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Born out of a desire to "entirely disrupt" the real estate market, an online-only Canadian mortgage assistance firm is making particularly great strides amid COVID-19.
And the Toronto-based company plans to make its mark in Manitoba next.
Using automated algorithms, Mortgauge promises to match prospective buyers from coast to coast with the right fit for a home within 48 hours.
"We really are the future of the homebuying experience," said founder and CEO Alex Leduc, who began the company just over two years ago.
After seeing severe "disjointedness" in the real estate market over his 10 years in the mortgage financing sector, Leduc said he "could not believe the lack of central access to resources."
"The whole process of buying a home in Canada continues to be simply too long, too daunting and too unbearable."
“The whole process of buying a home in Canada continues to be simply too long, too daunting and too unbearable.” — Mortgauge founder and CEO Alex Leduc
Leduc then left his day job and began to learn how to code and program an online-based software that now finds the right match not only for homebuyers, but also for those looking to refinance their mortgages.
"It’s a one-stop shop to empower people who would be spending countless days and long-drawn fees on something we can help them do themselves," he said.
As the pandemic progressed, an increase in "home-buying sentiment" and measures to move the real estate market online nearly doubled the company’s clientele, said Holly Medwid, head of growth at Mortgauge.
The website also hosts a special portal for brokers and realtors who can provide prospective buyers with a link to a dashboard for credit checks and preapproval — "eliminating the disappointment factor and cutting down on time," said Medwid.
"We were COVID-safe before the pandemic," she said. "So when things began to go virtual, we beat the curve by maximizing our online output."
As a Manitoba native herself, Medwid believes recent record-breaking numbers in the province’s housing market is why it’s the logical next step for Mortgauge’s expansion.
“We’re here to disrupt the industry and save Canadians thousands of dollars on legal fees and extra talking paid by the hour when they really don’t have to.” — Holly Medwid, head of growth at Mortgauge
Recent figures from WinnipegREALTORS show sales in the months of June and July this year far exceeded those made in May 2019.
"I think it’s such an important goal in life to buy a home," she said. "So when people hear ‘no’ from one financier to qualify for purchasing a house, we’re here to push on your behalf and ask, ‘are you sure? Why not?’
"We’re here to disrupt the industry and save Canadians thousands of dollars on legal fees and extra talking paid by the hour when they really don’t have to."
But local realtors — like Jennifer Queen of RE/MAX and Peter Squire of WinnipegREALTORS — aren’t so sure.
"I wouldn’t necessarily call them market disruptors," said Queen. "While there are clients that would likely appreciate cheaper fees and answers quickly online, there will always be clients that prefer to meet someone in a brick and mortar scenario and talk through what is best for them."
But both Squire and Queen agree that Mortgauge will make a good fit for millennial Manitobans.
"There is no one size fits all in any market," said Queen.
Those looking to sign up for Mortgauge will need to register online with documents ready to be uploaded virtually. Within two days, users can be preapproved for their target properties and get their pick of homes — from apartments, condos, bungalows to houseboats.
Unlike traditional realtor fees, commission fees on property sales will be split between clients and Mortgauge equally.
Temur Durrani reports on the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for this Free Press reporting position comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.
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