Australians sacrificing lifestyle for mortgages

Australians sacrificing lifestyle for mortgages

Australians are making financial sacrifices in order to secure home loans, according to new research from Westpac.

Saving up sufficient funds for a home deposit requires discipline — there’s nothing new about that. However, it appears that soon-to-be homeowners are sacrificing their spending in order to get on the property ladder faster. 

The findings outline some of the challenges involved with becoming a homeowner, though those who have secured real estate will no doubt be glad with the security it provides. 

What’s holding Aussies back?

According to the 2014 Westpac Home Ownership Report, 40 percent of homeowners say the single most difficult aspect of buying a home is saving a deposit. 

A high-interest savings account is a sage option for those looking to save an appropriate deposit, particularly as it has an incentive to refrain from making withdrawals from the account.

This option was reinforced by Gai McGrath, Westpac General Manager of Retail Banking.

“You can also make your money work harder for you by putting your savings in a high interest savings account, which rewards you for making regular contributions,” McGrath said.

How are Aussies pushing forward?

Many individuals saving for a home loan deposit have made sacrifices to their lifestyle in order to reach their savings goal faster.

The study found that 72 percent of savers made such sacrifices. Almost eight in 10 of home-deposit savers elected to eat at restaurants less often, while 61 percent chose to entertain at home, rather than spending their hard-earned dollars out on the town or at other entertainment venues.

“Small changes in your discretionary spending can result in big savings over time. This could be anything from going without that second takeaway coffee each day, reducing how often you go out for dinner or taking your lunch to work. All of these small changes can add up to thousands of dollars of savings a year,” McGrath stated.

It’s no wonder Australians are skimping on their favourite luxuries in order to save, given recent house price trends. 

Sydney dwelling values have soared by 15.4 percent year-on-year to June according to the RP Data-Rismark June Hedonic Home Value Index. The median dwelling price as of June 30 was $690,000 – making a 20 percent deposit a whopping $138,000.

In Melbourne, the average price over the same period was $560,000, while in Darwin it was $535,000. Overall, the combined capital median dwelling price at June 30 was $545,000, putting pressure on homeowners to save up big money.

The importance of being realistic

A spot of reality is key, too. 

According to McGrath, home-deposit savers are setting themselves up for disappointment if they don’t carefully analyse where they can cut down on spending, and where they can’t.

“If you’ve set yourself the goal of saving your deposit in two years, it’s unrealistic to think you can sacrifice everything for two years. Choose key areas where you can make sustainable but impactful sacrifices,” she noted.

Obtaining financial advice can help potential homeowners achieve their property goals faster, too.

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Learn more about home loans

How common are low-deposit home loans?

Low-deposit home loans aren’t as common as they once were, because they’re regarded as relatively risky and the banking regulator (APRA) is trying to reduce risk from the mortgage market.

However, if you do your research, you’ll find there is still a fairly wide selection of banks, credit unions and non-bank lenders that offers low-deposit home loans.

Who offers 40 year mortgages?

Home loans spanning 40 years are offered by select lenders, though the loan period is much longer than a standard 30-year home loan. You're more likely to find a maximum of 35 years, such as is the case with Teacher’s Mutual Bank

Currently, 40 year home loan lenders in Australia include AlphaBeta Money, BCU, G&C Mutual Bank, Pepper, and Sydney Mutual Bank.

Even though these lengthier loans 35 to 40 year loans do exist on the market, they are not overwhelmingly popular, as the extra interest you pay compared to a 30-year loan can be over $100,000 or more.

Savings over

Select a number of years to see how much money you can save with different home loans over time.

e.g. To see how much you could save in two years by switching mortgages,  set the slider to 2.

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Your current home loan interest rate. To accurately calculate how much you could save, an accurate interest figure is required. If you are not certain, check your bank statement or log into your mortgage account.

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The amount you currently owe your mortgage lender. If you are not sure, enter your best estimate.

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These are the loans that may be suitable, based on your pre-selected criteria. 

What factors does Real Time Ratings consider?

Real Time RatingsTM uses a range of information to provide personalised results:

  • Your loan amount
  • Your borrowing status (whether you are an owner-occupier or an investor)
  • Your loan-to-value ratio (LVR)
  • Your personal preferences (such as whether you want an offset account or to be able to make extra repayments)
  • Product information (such as a loan’s interest rate, fees and LVR requirements)
  • Market changes (such as when new loans come on to the market)

What is a redraw fee?

Redraw fees are charged by your lender when you want to take money you have already paid into your mortgage back out. Typically, banks will only allow you to take money out of your loan if you have a redraw facility attached to your loan, and the money you are taking out is part of any additional repayments you’ve made. The average redraw fee is around $19 however there are plenty of lenders who include a number of fee-free redraws a year. Tip: Negative-gearers beware – any money redrawn is often treated as new borrowing for tax purposes, so there may be limits on how you can use it if you want to maximise your tax deduction.

Mortgage Calculator, Repayment Frequency

How often you wish to pay back your lender. 

How does a redraw facility work?

A redraw facility attached to your loan allows you to borrow back any additional repayments that you have already paid on your loan. This can be a beneficial feature because, by paying down the principal with additional repayments, you will be charged less interest. However you will still be able to access the extra money when needed.

How personalised is my rating?

Real Time Ratings produces instant scores for loan products and updates them based what you tell us about what you’re looking for in a loan. In that sense, we believe the ratings are as close as you get to personalised; the more you tell us, the more we customise to ratings to your needs. Some borrowers value flexibility, while others want the lowest cost loan. Your preferences will be reflected in the rating. 

We also take a shorter term, more realistic view of how long borrowers hold onto their loan, which gives you a better idea about the true borrowing costs. We take your loan details and calculate how much each of the relevent loans would cost you on average each month over the next five years. We assess the overall flexibility of each loan and give you an easy indication of which ones are likely to adjust to your needs over time. 

What is appreciation or depreciation of property?

The increase or decrease in the value of a property due to factors including inflation, demand and political stability.

What happens to your mortgage when you die?

There is no hard and fast answer to what will happen to your mortgage when you die as it is largely dependent on what you have set out in your mortgage agreement, your will (if you have one), other assets you may have and if you have insurance. If you have co-signed the mortgage with another person that person will become responsible for the remaining debt when you die.

If the mortgage is in your name only the house will be sold by the bank to cover the remaining debt and your nominated air will receive the remaining sum if there is a difference. If there is a turn in the market and the sale of your house won’t cover the remaining debt the case may go to court and the difference may have to be covered by the sale of other assets.  

If you have a life insurance policy your family may be able to use some of the lump sum payment from this to pay down the remaining mortgage debt. Alternatively, your lender may provide some form of mortgage protection that could assist your family in making repayments following your passing.

Mortgage Calculator, Loan Term

How long you wish to take to pay off your loan.