ooba celebrates 15 years in business
In 1999 a company was launched that would change the face of the residential property market and it is still going strong 15 years later. ooba says it wants to continue to enhance its bond origination value proposition to homebuyers and lenders, while pursuing innovation and diversification.
Rhys Dyer is the first to admit that ooba has seen many highs and lows since its inception 15 years ago. Dyer, ooba's CEO, says interest rates peaked at 25% when the company was launched, reaching a low of 8.5% in 2012. Changes in the regulatory environment have also proved a challenge. “The introduction of the National Credit Act in 2007 forced us to adapt our strategy as it undoubtedly had an impact on customers’ ability to afford a home loan,” concedes Dyer. In addition, market conditions were severely affected by the world financial crisis in 2008, which saw banks' appetite for new home loan lending severely constricted.
Nevertheless, ooba has proved resilient during these tough times. Dyer believes the secret lies in the company's winning customer proposition. “We are able to submit customers' home loan applications to multiple lenders (ooba now has 9 different home loan lenders on its panel), thus ensuring a significantly better chance of a competitive approval,” asserts Dyer. This would explain why ooba has such a high rate of approval – more than seven out of ten applications that it processes are approved. To date, the company has approved more than 400 000 home loans.
Pioneering innovation supported by expertise
As a leader in the bond origination industry, ooba constantly strives to reinvent itself. “We were the first to develop an application form that could be used across all banks, as well as the first to develop an electronic home loan submission process,” says Dyer. The company was also the first bond originator to launch its own insurance products and recently introduced a new mobile app with more bond calculators than any other app on the market. It is a firm favourite with both home buyers and real estate agents.
With a staff complement of 385, the company has a national footprint with twenty four regional offices, and is responsible for over 20% of all new home loan applications in the market.
Dyer believes the residential property market presents an exciting opportunity for first-time buyers, who now make up 54% of their customers. While approval rates and house prices are climbing, he is nevertheless cautious about the overall outlook. “Slow economic growth, low savings rates, lower income growth and rising house prices, coupled with a rising interest-rate outlook, remain a barrier to home ownership for many South Africans.
“In this environment, consumers’ ability to afford and finance residential property and banks’ appetites to lend will be the key drivers of the housing market over the next few years. This is where the role of home loan originators becomes even more important as we work on behalf of the home buyers to secure the best bond deals available.”
Dyer believes that ooba will continue to lead in the South African bond origination business.
“We are driven by the knowledge that we provide an important service – we put more South Africans in new homes than anyone else – and we will never lose focus of this,” says Dyer. “At the same time, it is important to innovate, to stay ahead of market changes and to continue to offer our customers the related services and support they need. We believe that with this winning mix of business, we’ll be leading the market for the next 15 years and beyond.”
As the leading ‘Experts in Home Finance’ ooba is firmly established to continue to offer the best service and advice to home buyers.