For first time home buyers navigating the mortgage process is a complex and opaque process. Morty has built the online education and financing tool to automate steps of the mortgage process, providing resources like instant verifications for pre-approvals and real-time loan pricing with a few clicks. The online mortgage broker, launched in 2016, is licensed to operate in thirty-four states and is completely free for home buyers.
AlleyWatch spoke with COO and cofounder Nora Apsel to discuss how Morty is pioneering the digitalization of the mortgage industry, the company’s future plans for growth, and latest round of funding, which brings its total funding to $11.5M across three rounds.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised a Series A funding of $8.5M led by Prudence Holdings, with significant investments from Thrive Capital and Lerer Hippeau.
Tell us about the product or service that Morty offers.
Morty started as a single, transactional product that allowed homebuyers to complete a digitized mortgage application. With our latest product launch, we have released a new platform with three distinct stages that better align with the home buyer’s journey and their goals along the way, from building confidence in a strong, verified pre-approval to locking the perfect loan based on the homebuyer’s needs. Some of the features that allow us to accomplish that include:
- Clear, simple education around the financial attributes that help you qualify for a mortgage
- The Home Financing Score that minimizes any perceived risks with your mortgage eligibility
- Instant verifications to accelerate pre-approval through close, powered by integrations with industry leaders
- Pre-approval letter tailored for a specific property
- Transparent, dynamic, real-time loan pricing
What inspired you to start Morty?
Morty — a play on the word “mortgage” — was founded by four 30-something mortgage and tech entrepreneurs. Industry veteran Brian Faux (CEO), a former senior advisor for the U.S. Department of Housing, joined forces with Sarah Thomas (Cofounder), a former policy advisor at the Treasury Department, Adam Rothblatt (CTO), a former algorithmic trader at Goldman Sachs, and myself (COO), an engineer with a background in nonprofits and social impact startups. Our diverse backgrounds in mortgage, finance, and tech combined to form a shared vision of making shopping for and acquiring a mortgage easier and more transparent.
How is Morty different?
Morty is home buying made simple. We’re empowering first-time homebuyers to confidently secure and finance their home purchase in one easy-to-use platform. We help homebuyers navigate the complicated process of finding and securing financing to buy a home. We work with our buyers throughout every step of the home buying process, from pre-approval all the way to closing. Morty works with a variety of lenders, each offering different loans with different requirements and different closing costs. Instead of comparing lenders and loan options all alone, Morty’s borrowers benefit from our experience and expertise.
What market does Morty target and how big is it?
We reach over 75% of all first-time homebuyers who are thinking about or are learning more about purchasing their first home and that market is constantly growing.
Who do you consider to be your main competitors?
Our main competitor is really the status quo and the notion that you have to go to a brick and mortar bank to get a mortgage. To us, any company that is promoting the fact that you can efficiently get a mortgage online is helping move the entire industry forward.
What’s your business model?
Morty makes its money from lenders who pay a fee upon the close of a loan.
It can be intense, you’re able to meet a lot of people and you get feedback on your company and your pitch in a short period of time. There is a ton you can learn!.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Communicating why the mortgage industry has not changed in the past 20 years and how we make that process easier and more efficient for homebuyers.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Three things: the team, the market, and the product, and the understanding of what those three things can do with money behind them.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Focus! It’s more valuable to do one thing well than multiple things halfway.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Our goal for Morty is to generate more physical demand and strategic relationships in specific markets. We want to become the preferred mortgage partner for real-estate development, brokers, developers, and other market stakeholders to help power the future of first-time home transactions across all 50 states. At the same time, we want to make sure we grow our reach and engage with homebuyers earlier in the process.
Our goal for Morty is to generate more physical demand and strategic relationships in specific markets. We want to become the preferred mortgage partner for real-estate development, brokers, developers, and other market stakeholders to help power the future of first-time home transactions across all 50 states.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Calexico food truck.