A tool to compare offers in an apples-to-apples manner, enabling borrowers to shop around for mortgage offers confidently, while also simplifying the process for Own Up’s internal Home Advisor team.


︎︎︎Background

Understanding mortgage offers is complicated, overwhelming, and difficult for many people. At the same time borrowers want the lowest fees, lowest rate, and the best lender — but don't have the tools, time or knowledge to confidently shop and compare.


︎︎︎Approach

From foundational interviews, I heard about:
✳ The need for a holistic comparison
✳ Borrowers make their own spreadsheets to compare offers
Different elements of the comparison matters more to borrowers
✳ Borrowers new to the process expect Own Up to advise them of what they should be comparing


︎︎︎The Experience


I. Entering the tool
Discoverability of the comparison shopping tool was important for better engagement, and to test out if the tool would pique someone's curiosity. A person could easily compare an offer they might have found interesting to another using the button.




II. Optimized Analysis
The analysis is divided into four distinct categories to cater to differing priorities for homebuying situations:
✳ Breakeven: The number of years to recover the money spent on the house
✳ Lower lender fees
✳ Lower monthly payments
✳ Lower overall lifetime cost




III. Generating subsequent comparisonsAllowing people to edit offers in the same space pushes for a single page experience, reducing drop offs and without having to restart all over again.





IV. All in one placeA single page experience on mobile, and a single modal on desktop allows for a focused experience, and minimal cognitive load for a distraction-free process.




︎︎︎The Design Process


Ideation 
The first step for me to explore was to define an entry point into Comparison Shopping (CS). The two goals at this time were to:
✳ Figure out the simplest way of getting into the tool
✳ Find out the most intuitive approach of making the tool known





User FlowSelecting option II for it's direct visibility and simplicity as an entry point, I developed a flow to determine a rough idea of the interactions that could be in the experience.



Selecting Offer B
This was a key function but also one that could introduce complexity in the comparison process. The first few versions relied on selecting Offer B existed on a selection modal on top of the tool. Keeping simplicity in mind again, the MVP moved towards keeping the experience in one page on mobile (and echo consistently on desktop as well).

Analysis
The main goal was to keep this analysis comprehensible on the first look. I tried a couple of different approaches by switching around hierarchy for the most relevant information. At this point, the team collectively decided to nix the option of selecting "goals" to mitigate the risk of not being able to directly answer a specific user goal — but instead of adopting an advisory approach of recommending what someone should be looking to compare between two offers.



Testing

The [V4] prototype was tested with 5 different people with a mix of experiences ranging from first time home buyers to more experienced home buyer. Their feedback validated where we did well, and what we needed to do to get to the MVP. Overall, we heard that generating comparisons brings value to the product.



Impact

✳Post-launch, comparison shopping has maintained an engagement rate of ~60%, and 80% of users generated at least 1 analysis.
✳People who use comparison shopping are 2.5x more likely to complete a transaction with Own Up compared to those who don’t.

Reflection & Next steps

Comparing offers is helpful and delivers value to Own Up’s customers. It also adds on to the company‘s internal values of trust and transparency. Additionally, it makes sure people are not misunderstanding the competitiveness of offers just based on rates.

The next step that I charted out with the team is to work on the second milestone of comparison shopping where we allow people to input external offers and received analyses.