There is no shortage of financial comparison websites. These websites are widely used by home buyers today to determine how much they can borrow to buy a home or an investment property.
While financial comparison websites have their benefits, they need to be used with caution. Here we explain the limitations of comparison websites and things to bear in mind when you use them.
Beware of Bias
First things first: all financial comparison sites need to be used with caution. Leading consumer advocacy group, Choice, have previously voiced their concern at financial comparison sites promoting providers they have a commercial relationship with.
That being said, it is important that you carefully filter the ‘Top pick’ products that appear. Ensure you look for the button that allows you to compare all products. Ratings and rankings on comparison sites are sometimes given without a clear explanation, so it’s important to find out how the ratings work and compare with other sites.
‘Sponsored links’ are often paid advertising, which means the financial provider has paid top dollar to have their product displayed in a premium position. Some comparison sites will also make a commission when you click on a link or fill out a form. Choice maintains that in other cases, host websites might skew the way information is displayed in order to get more clicks on the profitable links.
Lastly, a lot of financial comparison websites will often only cover a portion of the market, not the whole market. So make sure you check a variety of websites to ensure you get the best and most accurate information.
A lot, if not all financial comparison websites don’t factor in the intangibles. Put simply, a mortgage calculator can only give you figures and won’t factor in the additional costs associated with maintaining a home. For example, one popular rule of thumb says that you should set aside one percent of the purchase price of your home per year for ongoing maintenance. if your home cost $400,000, you should budget $4,000 per year for maintenance.
Most financial comparison websites will offer you estimates and not actual figures. Factors such as inflation can have a huge impact on your mortgage repayments but most, if not all financial calculators will not factor it in.
Speak to the Experts
Using comparison websites is a good way to see what’s out there. However you should check the details so you’re comparing apples with apples. Speaking to a financial expert means you’ll get the full, accurate picture when it comes to getting the most suitable product to meet your needs.