New Kiwibank app aims to ease home hunting pains

Kiwibank has centralised some of the key details about the property market in a new app that’s designed to enable prospective homebuyers to access all the information they need in one place.

The ‘Home Hunter’ app, which was designed in-house over the course of a year by Kiwibank employees Peter Fletcher-Dobson and Anand Ranchord​, can be accessed free of charge on Smartphones, desktops and tablets, and Kiwibank says that it is confident that the app will ease some of the barriers that homebuyers – first-timers in particular – find so daunting.

Making the housing market seem less intimidating has been top of the green bank’s agenda recently. Earlier this week, Kiwibank released a humorous video campaign that aims to inform first-time homebuyers that they don’t necessarily need a 20 percent deposit to purchase a new home.

After October’s legislative changes, which introduced the loan-to-value speed limits, many prospective homebuyers were dissuaded from even trying to qualify for a home loan on account of not having sufficient cash on hand. Through the video campaign and now the app, Kiwibank is attempting to restore prospective buyer confidence, and this sentiment is reiterated by Kiwibank’s head of brand and communications Regan Savage when he says, “There are ways through it. And there is hope.”

A key feature of the video campaign was that it was complemented by an easy-to-use website that reduced the complicated home mortgage rules to three simple questions.

Pre-loan approval

The ‘Home Hunter’ app further consolidates the simplicity of Kiwibank’s system by making it possible for prospective homebuyers to receive their information from one source. Now, instead of visiting multiple websites or making various phone calls to disparate corporations, homebuyers can get pre-approval for their mortgage and proceed with house hunting, all from within the app.

Kiwibank CEO Paul Brock says, “The end-to-end process of securing pre-approval could be done before you’ve finished your morning coffee.”

Peruse available listings

Once the pre-approval step has been completed, the app can then access homes that fall within the user’s price range. Users are able to view full photo spreads of the real estate listings, obtain the agents’ details and find out when open homes will be taking place.

Augmented reality

But the utility of the app doesn’t end there. Through the technology of augmented reality, an app user can scan houses on the street to determine if they are for sale or not. If the house is on the market, then the user can immediately access information on the history and estimated price of the home.   

Sunshine tracker

Given how cold Kiwi homes tend to be during the winter, the app also comes with a feature that enables users to determine how many hours of sunlight a home will receive during a day. The app thereby assists users in the decision-making process by giving them objective information, which can be considered in conjunction with estimates or sales pitches from real estate agents

Work in progress

The app’s co-creator Fletcher-Dobson is excited about the app but admits that there is still work to be done.

“We think it’s already pretty great, but when you develop an App there is no finish line, so we want to hear people’s feedback and ideas if they think we can make it even better,” says Mr Fletcher-Dobson.

To track the public’s response, the Kiwibank team has established a Facebook community, where app users can share their stories and opinions on the app. In addition to this, Fletcher-Dobson says, “[Kiwibank] will be selecting a group of serious home hunters to document their journey as they use Home Hunter.”

“We think that by sharing their experiences, the rest of us will learn a thing or two,” says Mr Fletcher-Dobson.

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