What is Lifetise? “Too often financial decisions make us feel a bit lost,” says Lifetise.com’s co-founders Caroline Hughes and Nick Wasmuth.
To help people out of the haze, these fin-tech whizzes have created a one-stop website where you can find “the tools to help you understand your money better and make plans that will let you afford the things you want in life”.
Where first-time buyers should start their spring house hunt in 2019
Not being shy of a challenge, their first tool, Homefinder, focuses on getting you on the property ladder. Their second tool, Childminder, tackles another major headache for many Londoners, childcare costs. More tools are in the pipeline.
Homefinder is about “highlighting the possible”, they say.
All too often, the first step on the journey towards home ownership involves wistfully studying the ads in estate agents’ windows, which can be demoralising if you don’t see much you can afford.
Homefinder aims to turn this on its head. You start by inputting your salary and savings, alongside the date you’d like to buy and the sort of property you’d like to live in.
It then kicks out a heatmap, based on recent sold prices, showing you where you can afford to buy.
Don’t expect miracles. The tool can’t change the reality that London’s homes are expensive. This means that many first-time buyers will find a map with an unaffordable red middle bit.
However, the map is sufficiently high level to show the outer boroughs in variable shades of affordable green, so you can see at a glance where you could buy.
Plus, the tool helps you understand your choices better. By tweaking your inputs you can see how extra savings from one less night out a week, or perhaps changing your wish list, affects your ability to buy a property.
Once you’ve got an idea of what you’d like, Homefinder’s dashboard walks you through the process of buying a home.
With just one click, your personalised plan is available to download. This sets out how much they think you can afford, what sort of deposit you’ll need and how much you need to save each month to get there.
It also gives you an indication of what to expect in terms of your monthly mortgage payments, stamp duty and other fees, to prevent any nasty surprises along the way.
Having a plan and sticking to it, however, are two very different things. To help keep you on track, Homefinder can email you every payday to remind you to save.
A guiding hand
It doesn’t stop there. Open a Lifetise account and it will be at your side throughout your house-hunting journey.
They’ll “show you property hunting, making an offer, booking a survey, instructing a solicitor and all the other tasks involved in getting your dream home”. All free.
Support comes in the form of how-to guides and articles sent directly to your email, which can be tailored to your particular situation, while the increasingly integrated platform connects you to experts
Lifetise doesn’t provide products. For that you need to look elsewhere. But even here Homefinder makes it easy with expertise just a click away.
If you want help in saving towards your deposit, Homefinder directs you to GoCompare’s savings page, where you can pick a savings account or Isa to suit your needs.
Another click takes you to ClearScore, where you can deal with any unexpected surprises on your credit score.
Keeping the online theme, Homefinder has hooked up with Trussle, a free online mortgage broker.
So it should be no surprise that when it comes to looking for an actual property, Homefinder directs you to big online property search sites such as Rightmove.
And there’s more to come. According to Caroline Hughes, they are working hard on building partnerships with other online providers to support your home-buying journey further.