Conditions improve for first home buyers

Conditions improve for first home buyers

Rising incomes and stagnate house prices mean home buyers are taking less time to save for their first home deposit, research suggests.

Couples buying their first property took about three years and nine months on average to save a deposit in 2012 – about three months less than in 2011, according to findings from a Bankwest study.

“People are starting to think that it’s a good time to buy and feeling more comfortable about buying,” said Bankwest retail chief executive Vittoria Shortt.

Falling interest rates also mean the average first home buyer with a variable rate home loan is about $700 a year better off this year compared to last year, RateCity data shows.

“Variable borrowers have seen their interest rates fall by 67 basis points on average this year, which has saved them almost $673 in repayments for a $300,000 home loan and almost $1346 for a $600,000 mortgage,” said Michelle Hutchison, spokeswoman for RateCity.

And that’s before December rate cuts are factored in later this month, she adds.

Tips to help you buy in 2013

As first home buyer conditions improve, the dream of owning a home may seem more achievable for many Australians.

Latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the number of first mortgages financed in September this year was 4 percent higher than September 2011.

So if you’re a first home buyer with a goal of securing your first property in the New Year, here are some tips to help make the dream a reality.

First, you’ll need to set a budget and start a savings plan. There are some great online budget planners available now, such as the government’s Money Smart budget tool, which will do most of the hard work for you. Try also using a mortgage calculator to determine the monthly financial commitment you’ll be facing. 

Hutchison urges borrowers to plan for a buffer of at least 2 percentage points higher than current rates – that is worth an extra $400 per month for a $300,000 home loan.

“Even though the Reserve Bank dropped the cash rate last week it’s inevitable that interest rates will eventually rise, and borrowers should plan ahead to avoid financial difficulty,” she said.

Second, do your homework before it comes time to apply for a loan.

There are hundreds of mortgage options available in the market so it pays to compare home loans before you decide on one. While the interest rate will be significant when it comes to pricing, it’s also important to compare fees and the various home loan features. For instance, do you require an offset facility – a kind of transaction account which can help to reduce the amount of interest paid on a home loan? If you’re planning to build or renovate, then a construction facility may be necessary.    

“There’s a lot of money to be saved using a site like RateCity and comparing your home loan to what’s on the market so use this time to shop around,” said Hutchison.

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Learn more about home loans

What is a fixed home loan?

A fixed rate home loan is a loan where the interest rate is set for a certain amount of time, usually between one and 15 years. The advantage of a fixed rate is that you know exactly how much your repayments will be for the duration of the fixed term. There are some disadvantages to fixing that you need to be aware of. Some products won’t let you make extra repayments, or offer tools such as an offset account to help you reduce your interest, while others will charge a significant break fee if you decide to terminate the loan before the fixed period finishes.

What is the amortisation period?

Popularly known as the loan term, the amortisation period is the time over which the borrower must pay back both the loan’s principal and interest. It is usually determined during the application approval process.

Why should you trust Real Time Ratings?

Real Time Ratings™ was conceived by a team of data experts who have been analysing trends and behaviour in the home loan market for more than a decade. It was designed purely to meet the evolving needs of home loan customers who wish to merge low cost with flexible features quickly. We believe it fills a glaring gap in the market by frequently re-rating loan products based on the changes lenders make daily.

Real Time Ratings™ is a new idea and will change over time to match the frequently-evolving demands of the market. Some things won’t change though – it will always rate all relevent products in our database and will not be influenced by advertising.

If you have any feedback about Real Time Ratings™, please get in touch.

How can I get a home loan with no deposit?

Following the Global Financial Crisis, no-deposit loans, as they once used to be known, have largely been removed from the market. Now, if you wish to enter the market with no deposit, you will require a property of your own to secure a loan against or the assistance of a guarantor.

What is bridging finance?

A loan of shorter duration taken to buy a new property before a borrower sells an existing property, usually taken to cover the financial gap that occurs while buying a new property without first selling an older one.

Usually, these loans have higher interest rates and a shorter repayment duration.

What is the flexibility score?

Today’s home loans often try to lure borrowers with a range of flexible features, including offset accounts, redraw facilities, repayment frequency options, repayment holidays, split loan options and portability. Real Time Ratings™ weights each of these features based on popularity and gives loans a ‘flexibility score’ based on how much they cater to borrowers’ needs over time. The aim is to give a higher score to loans which give borrowers more features and options.

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 is a building in course of erection loan?

Also known as a construction home loan, a building in course of erection (BICOE) loan loan allows you to draw down funds as a building project advances in order to pay the builders. This option is available on selected variable rate loans.

What is an ombudsman?

An complaints officer – previously referred to as an ombudsman -looks at formal complaints from customers about their credit providers, and helps to find a fair and independent solution to these problems.

These services are handled by the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, a non-profit government organisation that addresses and resolves financial disputes between customers and financial service providers.

Interest Rate

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.

Do other comparison sites offer the same service?

Real Time RatingsTM is the only online system that ranks the home loan market based on your personal borrowing preferences. Until now, home loans have been rated based on outdated data. Our system is unique because it reacts to changes as soon as we update our database.

How often is your data updated?

We work closely with lenders to get updates as quick as possible, with updates made the same day wherever possible.

What is a construction loan?

A construction loan is loan taken out for the purpose of building or substantially renovating a residential property. Under this type of loan, the funds are released in stages when certain milestones in the construction process are reached. Once the building is complete, the loan will revert to a standard principal and interest mortgage.

Mortgage Calculator, Interest Rate

The percentage of the loan amount you will be charged by your lender to borrow.