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A secure web-based platform called Ownly is helping home buyers understand exactly what they can afford to purchase.
It’s a zero-paperwork transparent process that determines the user’s home buying budget in less three minutes. Ownly reflects the trend towards digital transactions in real estate where home buyers can make decisions in a less hurried manner.
Logel Homes in Calgary is the first multi-family builder in Alberta to embrace this new platform. Sales and marketing manager Reilly LePage says the buying experience starts online anyway, so Ownly is another convenient tool for customers to take advantage of in the digital evolution of real estate.
“When our customers visit our sales centre, they tell us they’ve come because of the transparency on our website. They can see what’s available, what the prices are and the locations of the homes they’ve seen online,” he says.
From Logel’s website, customers can choose a floor plan, view the final price and reserve that floor plan. In partnership with Ownly Verified, that customer can also calculate what they can afford.
“We like it because it’s stronger than just going online, using a lender’s pre-approval tool and just guessing at income and debts. This is bank-level encryption — it doesn’t store your information — it just takes an assessment of the accounts where liabilities and assets flow through. It sees everything and spits out your buying power in a split second,” LePage says.
For right-sizers with property to sell, the platform connects with Honest Door to review the most current MLS data to get a ballpark home evaluation.
Ownly verifies the purchasers and then they can actually reserve the home they like and is within their budget. That simply involves choosing their favourite floor plan using the floor plate chart and building location shown on Logel’s website. A sales representative follows up within 24 hours to complete the transaction and the hold is good for seven days. There’s a $40 charge if the customer doesn’t follow through with the purchase.
“Our collaboration with Logel Homes is a significant milestone for Ownly, but it’s also a pivotal moment for the entire real estate landscape in Alberta. For the first time, buyers can have real-time insights into their affordability, giving them the power to make informed decisions without unnecessary red tape,” says Jason Hardy, co-founder and CEO of Ownly.
Rising interest rates on the other hand are greatly affecting affordability and do nothing to make home buyers feel empowered or in control. Even after a deal is finalized and the home building process is underway, the dream of homeownership might disappear if the buyer hasn’t taken steps to ensure they still qualify for their mortgage by the time the home is built.
Liz Lipton, customer experience manager with Calgary builder Shane Homes, says their area sales managers offer counsel to buyers to prevent rising interest rates from pulling the rug out from underneath them.
“We as a builder don’t have any control over mortgage rates, but we do give homeowners advice,” she says.
First, get a mortgage rate hold for 12 to 24 months — 18 months is ideal — so there are no surprises prior to possession. It doesn’t take that long to build a home, even with the current supply chain issues and labour shortages, but it helps ensure that the buyer knows what their payment is going to be.
“Thankfully, the price of the home won’t change. We don’t add extra charges on to adjust for inflation or anything like that,” Lipton says.
She also recommends that once the build begins, don’t change jobs or borrow money for a major purchase like a car or a boat. “Try to keep things as consistent as possible for the duration of that build,” she says.
For those who haven’t successfully acquired a mortgage rate hold, stay in touch with the mortgage broker. Buyers who have passed the stress test and been approved may not keep that approval status if interest rates have risen during the course of the build.
“When it comes time to finalize everything with their lawyer, they may have to come up with a higher down payment if that happens,” she says.