Google is experimenting with another foray into the mainstream UK housing market, but this time with the launch of a mortgage comparison website.
This now appears on the very top of the page when you google keywords such as ‘compare mortgages UK’, ‘mortgages UK’ and even just ‘mortgages’.
The site, which bears all the hallmarks of a trial, says it offers ‘fast, simple and clear comparison’ and invites users to say whether they are looking for a purchase mortgage or a remortgage. You then press a ‘compare’ button, without leaving the Google page.
It then switches through to the comparison page, but this currently only lists ‘sponsored’ results’ from a handful of lenders: Woolwich, ING Direct, Lloyds TSB, NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland.
The website, Compare UK Mortgages, follows Google’s acquisition of Beat That Quote, the UK comparison website for mortgages and other financial products, in March for £37.7m.
Analysts said then that Google only bought it to can it, in order to go after the whole industry amid rumours that Google’s IT specialists were working on a mortgage comparison website based on the software used by Beat That Quote.
At the time, Google said that with Beat That Quote’s expertise “and our technology, we will be able to provide new and innovative ways for consumers to find the right financial products and save money”.
Google is still clearly doing its homework and is using its mortgage comparison trial to run a feedback survey, asking users how they have searched for a mortgage before.
Google has a similar mortgage comparison service in the States.
In the UK, however, as agents know, property has not been altogether good news for the internet giant. It tried to launch the ultimate property search feature, using Google Maps.
Despite the fact that it was free to estate agents to use for their listings, unlike Rightmove, it failed to gain any traction and was aborted in February after just seven month – with red faces all round.
Whether the new mortgage comparison site, using the normal Google search rather than mapping, provides a re-entry into the wider housing market, such as For Sale listings, remains to be seen.