Former musician turned money expert reveals how to get the best mortgage deal
When a mortgage broker inadvertently attributed two wives to Daniel Hegarty, the 38-year-old not only almost missed out on his dream home but realised the mortgage industry could do with a rethink.
Having already had a successful career in music – first in his own band and then writing for and playing with headline acts such as Robbie Williams, S Club 7, Pink and the Sugababes – Daniel decided to set up online mortgage broker Habito in 2015.
You had a successful music career – did you live a pop star lifestyle back then?
It was a life predominantly spent in a van full of sweaty 20-something dudes – not what most people imagine when they think of a ‘pop star lifestyle’. But I did what I loved and I was in my late teens, so I thought it was pretty great.
How secure did you feel?
I liked the freedom of touring. But after a couple of years, I wondered what it would be like to have an office job, a laptop and a commute. So I pivoted at 25 into my second career in tech, which led me to become an entrepreneur.
Did you make any extravagant purchases?
I bought a Synthi AKS, which is an amazing and unusable synth from the 1960s. I still have it and look at it warmly most days.
What financial mistakes did you see pop stars making?
For the avoidance of doubt, I was an anonymous session musician – so a long way from being a pop star.
Mistakes would be thinking that because ‘leaving the money to someone else’ has a history of working out badly for musicians, some don’t take or pay for expert advice.
Any job that doesn’t pay a monthly salary needs thoughtful, professional financial planning.
Have you had any bad experiences yourself?
Six years ago I had an absolutely horrifying experience with a mortgage broker. I made the application, and the broker managed to write down me, my wife and my wife.
That confused the bank, which then rejected it – presumably on the basis of suspected bigamy. The application was then re-sent, but instead of taking my wife off once, they had taken me off – which triggered another ten-day cycle with the bank.
We came quite close to losing the house. It was a shocking insight into an industry I had been almost entirely ignorant of. But it was enough to spur me on. I wanted to build a mortgage company fit for the modern age that would make mortgages easier.
Is property the best financial investment around?
Most people don’t buy homes as a financial investment. Unless you’re a buy-to-let investor, people buy homes as a place to live, raise families, be part of a community, enjoy life, grow old.
Think long-term and buy a home that’s right for your needs, at a price that you can afford and that you plan to enjoy for several years. The rest is just noise.
Has your attitude to money changed over the years?
Childcare costs and nursery fees are eye-watering. I had no idea until becoming a dad.
What financial advice would you pass on?
Haggle on the big stuff more. We’re a nation that loves couponing, two-for-one offers and discount codes – we focus a lot of saving pennies here and there. But switch your mortgage – around 27 per cent of Brits don’t – and you’d save around £4,000. I’d love for people to see that they can use their mortgage a lot more dynamically.
When did you realise you were financially secure?
Getting the keys to our dream home made me feel more secure, but I still have a mortgage repayment to make every month.
What would you buy if money was no object?
It’s really geeky but I’d love an old mixing desk from the 1970s. They’re totally impractical and permanently broken, but they’re beautiful and get you away from the laptop.
Are you a spender or a saver these days?
I think lockdown has turned a lot of people into savers.
Can money really bring you happiness?
It brings choices, which brings happiness by way of feeling like the maker of your own destiny.
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