Mortgages simpler than ever
October 2020
Hyppo.CH is an innovative online mortgage platform that has the answers to all the questions a potential buyer may have about purchasing a property in Switzerland. For the first time in Swiss history, mortgages are broken down into plain, simple language – no fewer than five languages in fact. It covers everything from how much a down payment should be to which residence permits are required. Nothing is left out, the explanations are simple and every step is clearly signposted with intuitive visual guides. Free to use and accessible at home and on the go.
With interest rates historically low, home ownership has become a much more attractive option for those who intend to settle down in Switzerland. Why would you put 2-3k CHF into your landlord's pocket every month if you could pay half as much to your bank? And that already includes the so-called amortisation that helps you build equity and wealth over time. Yes, we also thought it was stupid.

«ut if you ever tried to do your own research on mortgages, you know how difficult it is. Especially if you are an expat. Different system, different language, different rules: these factors quickly deter expats from pursuing home ownership in a foreign country.

Most mortgage calculators offered by today's banks are virtually useless. They do not answer most of the questions that arise apart from the price tag you can afford. "Would you like to learn more? Please get in touch with our advisors". Additionally, websites and brochures offered by financial institutions are packed full of complex words you have never heard of. And why would you? How often do you buy flats and houses that you happen to know all the terminology? As our research has shown, many people never go beyond checking a simple mortgage calculator and there are 3 main reasons for that.

Reason 1
They realise that they cannot afford what they want.

Reason 2
They are simply too early in the process and would like to do more research.

Reason 3
They believe that the process is too complex and abandon the idea of becoming a home owner for an indefinite period of time.

Sprinkle in a dose of legalese and the cost of having everything translated – with no guarantee that the end product will be any clearer – and the task seems virtually impossible. It comes as little wonder, then, that rental contracts continue to reign among expats, despite many wanting to plant lasting roots and gain a foothold on the Swiss property ladder.

This is a missed opportunity, we thought. So we have committed to change it.
Taking into account our ambitious goal - rethinking the entire process of becoming a home owner in Switzerland - the main challenge was to become real specialists in this field. We have invested many hours reading specialised literature and talking to bank employees to become world-class experts in home financing. This initial research made it absolutely clear to us what kind of challenges customers face once they start digging into the topic (long story short: it is an absolute nightmare). The rest was much easier: once we knew where the problem lies, all we needed to do was to prepare several solutions to those problems and find out what works best.
Hyppo.CH looks at home ownership from an entirely new perspective. Unlike other apps and calculators, Hyppo does not assume that our customers are already finance-savvy. Nor does it expect them to become so. The main goal of Hyppo is to explain that your own home has never been more affordable than now and to make the process as clear and straightforward as possible. Apart from standard things like

  • whether you qualify to buy
  • what you can afford
  • how high the monthly payments are

Hyppo.CH delves into more advanced topics which customers learn about at much later stages (if at all). One such topic is hidden costs; which can be up to 5% of the property price. A mortgage advisor will usually leave these fees out of the conversation as they are not covered by a mortgage, which means that you must pay them out of pocket.
The other important question that prospective home owners must look into before buying is whether it makes economic sense to keep renting. Buying a property is a good idea only if the numbers add up. If they don't, it's easy to become saddled with unmanageable amounts of debt. That's why Hyppo.CH has a feature that compares the monthly costs of renting a property with those involved in owning one. It states how many years it will take before owning turns a 'profit' over renting and lays out some handy additional factors to consider before taking the property plunge.
But the most advanced feature is Hyppo's unique financial planner. During our research phase we found that less than 10% of potential customers know that they can use their pension savings to finance one part of the down payment. This can easily make your dream home affordable and become the clincher when you decide whether to go for a mortgage or not.
Early June 2019
We searched through englishforum.ch to understand what kind of challenges foreigners face when planning to become homeowners in Switzerland
Late June 2019
Simplistic prototype to present the idea internally
August 2019
First UX iteration and internal testing
September 2019
2nd UX iteration and testing

Key findings:
Foreigners still struggle to understand how the Swiss mortgage system works.
Graphs and information displayed were too complex.
October 2019
3rd UX iteration

Complete redesign of app flow and diagrams based on user feedback.
November 2019
4th UX iteration and another round of testing

Card-based interface introduced to simplify navigation between complex topics.

Key findings:
Card design received positive feedback
Wording and certain interactions were hard to understand
Taxes add too much complexity
January 2020
5th UX iteration and another round of testing

Brushing up and preparing for launch.

Key findings:
Very good reception by users
Smaller changes regarding wording and interaction needed

March 2020
Official launch
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Original Figma source file