The partnership between Mortgage Choice and Athena Home Loans announced in October 2022 is now bearing fruit, with the national brokerage and non-bank lender launching their new suite of products.
Mortgage Choice Freedom, powered by Athena is a suite of “fair value” home loans that were co-designed and co-developed by Athena and Mortgage Choice brokers, with the needs of Australian borrowers front of mind.
The Mortgage Choice Freedom Saver, Mortgage Choice Freedom Flex and Mortgage Choice Freedom Fixed products feature Athena’s revolutionary home loan features such as rate match for new and existing customers, automatic rate drops as a customer reduces their loan to value ratio, and no lender fees.
“Mortgages are widely recognised as the biggest monthly expense for households in Australia,” Mortgage Choice CEO Anthony Waldron (pictured above centre) said. “With 12 interest rate rises since May 2022, and more potentially on the horizon, it’s more important than ever that lenders are giving borrowers a fair go.”
“Historically, Australian banks haven’t rewarded borrowers for their loyalty – in fact, long-term customers often watch in disbelief as the bank they’ve been loyal to for years offers new customers much lower rates and other deals like cashback offers. With Mortgage Choice Freedom, it won’t matter if you’re an existing customer or new, you’ll receive the same rate on a like-for-like variable loan.”
Reserve Bank data reveals that customers loyal to their lender are paying an average of 41 basis points more on their mortgage than new customers. It’s estimated that this ‘loyalty tax’ will cost Australians $8.9 billion this year alone.
Athena’s assessment of RBA mortgage data shows new customers that keep new customer rates for the life of the loan can save up to $1,799 per year, or up to $44,998 across the life of their loan.
A survey of more than 1,000 Australians in May, which was commissioned by Mortgage Choice and conducted by Honeycomb Strategy, showed that 88% of mortgage holders believe lenders should give existing customers the same interest rate and deals as new customers.
This is Athena’s first product launch in the third-party broker channel and its CEO and co-founder Nathan Walsh (pictured above right with Athena co-founder and CEO Michael Starkey) said the partnership was about bringing together “shared values”.
“We know that Athena’s innovative home loan products resonate with a lot of borrowers in the market,” said Walsh. “However, these borrowers often want expert advice on all their options from a professional they trust. With almost 70% of Australians now using a mortgage broker to source their home loan, it made a lot of sense for us to partner with Mortgage Choice – which has been a trusted name in broking for more than 30 years.”
Waldron said the Mortgage Choice broker network worked side by side with Athena in developing a product that would quickly and seamlessly move customers from application to approval. Athena Home Loans uses version 2.0 of Simpology’s LoanApp lodgement technology, which is already designed to reduce the time to pre-approval and loan acceptance.
“Early in the partnership we established a broker working group which was heavily consulted throughout the project, right down to the value proposition for brokers and their customers,” Waldron said. “During April we ran a successful pilot with 100 brokers, and in May opened up Mortgage Choice Freedom to our full network.”
Mortgage Choice broker Simon Rayhanabad said he believed the “fair value” proposition should be offered in all lending solutions.
“Unlike other industries and businesses, finance seems to be the only one that does not reward loyalty, and so when describing the concept to applicants, my enthusiasm about fair value is contagious,” said Rayhanabad.
Speaking about Mortgage Choice Freedom, Mortgage Choice broker Chantelle Rangel said: “I submitted a refinance loan application for a client that included an estimated value for their current property. The actual valuation came in higher than expected, so the LVR was lower, and her rate automatically reduced by 0.15% without me having to do anything. That hasn’t happened before with any lender.”
“These three Mortgage Choice Freedom products are just the beginning,” said Waldron. “We are working with Athena on an ambitious roadmap and are looking forward to delivering even more value for Australian borrowers over the coming months.”