Few will argue that buying a house is a stressful activity. For those considering that major life jump from renter to owner, the business of purchasing your own pile of bricks and mortar can be one of the most challenging tasks of adult life.
Not alone is it probably the biggest single purchase in life, the logistics of acquiring a home can be a minefield of bureaucracy for the uninitiated.
Lintil, an Irish-founded startup launched earlier this year, aims to streamline and simplify the home-buying journey through a free-to-use platform assisting purchasers every step from finding a home to closing the deal.
“The traditional way of buying and selling a home has barely evolved over the last 40 years and is still almost done entirely offline, requiring all buyers to coordinate between several different parties, causing unnecessary confusion and stress,” explains Emmet Creighton, co-founder and CEO.
The company was set to launch in March 2020 — however, the arrival of the pandemic that same month forced the postponement all of their plans.
“While the impact of Covid-19 was significant, it eventually worked in our favour as people began to realise most things can be done online rather than in person,” Emmet explains.
The digitisation of processes proved a boost for Lintil, which officially launched in July 2021.
“We ran trials for months before the launch and are extremely confident that our virtual home-buying assistant will dramatically improve what before this, was an arduous process,” he says.
Headquartered in Dublin, the company currently has 3,000 members in Ireland and 26,000 in Britain. Operating as a virtual home-buying assistant, Lintil tracks all stages and steps of the buying journey, allowing home-buyers to book discounted quotations from all services in the market, including, mortgage brokers, solicitors, insurance companies and property surveyors.
We’ve had an overwhelming response from homebuyers signing up and telling us they’ve been waiting for a solution like this for a long time.
Having worked as a property solicitor for several years, helping high-level clients to purchase real estate in Ireland, he witnessed first-hand how frustrating the process can be.
With many clients relying on his advice across the entire journey, he decided to create a platform catering to all of the first-time buyers’ needs with co-founder Dr Jonathan McLaughlin, a former mathematics, science and technology lecturer.
“Because we can negotiate at scale, Lintil can broker discounted quotations from mortgage brokers, solicitors, insurance companies, property surveyors and more,” he explains of the process.
Lintil is riding the crest of a wave at the moment because we are doing something that’s positive — in a market that’s crowded with negative news.
“Last year during the height of the pandemic we opened a Facebook page to help potential purchasers through the process, something we did mainly to keep ourselves and our staff busy and motivated. But it has now gone on to become the largest home-buyers group in Ireland, with a quarter of those people having gone on to become customers of Lintil.
“It was a real example of putting something out there to help people, and which can back to benefit us in a business sense.”
Lintil acts as a concierge service, Emmet explains, a hand-holding process from finding the property right to the final stage of handing over the keys.
“The house buying process can involve up to 14 different services, including banks, insurance, surveyors and so forth. Our job is to survey the market and get the best service providers currently operating at the best possible price.
Lintil effectively introduces clients to those services, and for which we take a fee from those services for doing that. Everything we do for the client is free.”
Barely six months on the road, Lintil continues to surpass its founders’ expectations, with angel investors already on board and major expansion plans ready to commence in 2022.
“The reaction has been hugely positive from every quarter, to put it mildly,” he says. “We have big plans for the UK in particular, with a number of major companies over there already involved with us.
"In addition, we are fielding a considerable amount of interest from companies throughout the EU who are keen to have us set up in their territories. But while the reaction from the marketplace has been extremely positive, we are acutely aware that these are still very early days for Lintil, and we are proceeding in a measured manner to accommodate that.”
Timing in business is key to any startup success, an area where Lintil’s arrival has been bolstered by a number of market changes.
“2019 was the first year where more business was done on the mobile phone that on desktop computer — a huge paradigm shift in how people interacted with the internet and commerce. The Lintil demographic, those between 25 and 45 who are buying their first home, are used to buying everything on their phones but are now moving toward purchasing things through ‘conversational commerce’ such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Everybody is well used to buying on their phone, tracking its journey from the source to eventually arriving at your door.
Lintil was additionally helped by the restrictions of Covid-19, where people stopped physically visiting offices or having face-to-face meetings in favour of the safer method of using the mobile as their conduit:
“People would traditionally, for example, automatically hire a solicitor in Cork to purchase a house in Cork — which need not be the case at all. A solicitor in Donegal will do the job just as well, without the necessity of being on site in Cork or wherever.
“The same goes for insurance, mortgage brokerages and property surveying. What Covid did was open up the entire market to home buyers — with Lintil investigating that market on their behalf to source the best services at the best rate.”
As part of the process, Lintil will also rate the service after each transaction:
“It self-polices itself, if one particular service is not up to scratch, we move on to the next one.
The days of having to visit six or seven different offices, with a gathering trail of paperwork behind you are gone.
This change was already well under way up to 2019 anyway, the pandemic just expedited it further,” he concludes. “Businesses like Lintil are here to do that work on behalf of the client — and it will become more commonplace as we move forward.”