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Would you pay to put your mortgage out to tender?

An Aussie start-up with a new take on online mortgage brokerage is betting a good number of people will. Flongle encourages consumers to carefully map out their ideal mortgage for a new property or refinancing, and then for a fee anonymously put it out to Flongle's network of lenders and brokers to bid on in a "mortgage contest".

In a way, it's not too different from the few "borrowers agents" already in the market who take a fee from the customer (instead of taking mortgage broker commissions from lenders) and run a mortgage contest on their behalf. They do this to show their independence and assure the customer they won't be pushing them in the direction of the lenders that pay the highest brokerage commission.

This lack of independence is a concern for some in the Australian market considering NAB and Commonwealth Bank together majority own around 50% of the country's mortgage broker networks.

So the mortgage contest idea isn't completely unique to Flongle (though it claims a world first). But founder, former mortgage broker and author Michael Lee, who has been pushing for improved home loan transparency for nearly ten years, has done a great job with the user experience and marketing.

* Slightly ridiculous sounding one-word online financial business kind of name? Check.

* Buy-in from the lenders and brokers? Check. He claims more than 50 lenders and mortgages are signed up and verified at launch.

* Online-first self-service business model? Check. Users can post mortgage requirements to be bid against for $399, or if they need personal guidance it's $799.

It's the requirements posting and matching that Flongle says sets it apart. And like a number of leading single-purpose financial businesses these days, they've got the online user experience well focused on getting customers onboard. With a nicely responsive site for different devices, they set out the steps, clearly communicate expected timeframes and invite users to create and save a mortgage contest for free.

Taking the form of a three-screen questionnaire it asks users for the usual financial details but also asks them to score on a sliding scale how important certain characteristics are to them -- offset account, redraw facilities, preference for smaller lenders etc.

This combined with the "One Last Form" that users can complete once and use to formally apply to any responding lender they choose, make for a well thought out user experience. 


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