Home loan break costs

Break Costs

What are home loan break costs?

Before 1 July 2011, if you had wanted to cancel your home loan contract before the loan term expired, you would have usually incurred break costs or exit fees. It was up to each lender to determine what their break costs were, and they were also calculated differently. These costs or fees were a major deterrent for consumers who were comparing home loan rates and wanting to switch home loans.

The Federal Government stepped in and legislated that from 1 July 2011, lenders were no longer able to charge customers who wished to repay their home loan early.

Despite these changes, if you refinance your home loan you may still be charged a discharge fee from your existing lender, plus application fees or upfront costs by your new lender. There are also government duties/charges to take into account when refinancing.

Refinancing home loans with no upfront costs:


Fixed rate break costs

If you have a fixed rate home loan and you are still in the fixed period, you may incur additional charges if you refinance and exit from your loan.

This is because the lender is essentially going to lose the money it was expecting to receive as income from your loan’s interest, leaving a gap in its previously prepared budget. As a result, the lender will calculate how much they will lose by you ending the loan contract ahead of schedule and charge you accordingly.

Because the break costs of leaving a fixed rate home loan early can prove quite expensive, it’s often worth considering whether it would be more affordable to wait for the fixed interest period to expire before looking into refinancing the loan. 

What do break costs mean for your refinance?

The more it costs to switch from one home loan to another, the less affordable your refinanced mortgage could ultimately turn out to be. Even if you switch to a mortgage offering a lower interest rate that saves you money on your home loan, it may take a long time for these savings to make up for these high switching costs and ultimately “break even” on your home loan. 

To help you work out which home loan terms will ideally suit your current financial situation when refinancing, Australia’s home loan comparison site, RateCity.com.au, has some great home loan calculators. Plus, you can compare fixed rate home loans, variable rate home loans and also review our home loan guide for information when choosing a home loan. 

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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.

How do I refinance my home loan?

Refinancing your home loan can involve a bit of paperwork but if you are moving on to a lower rate, it can save you thousands of dollars in the long-run. The first step is finding another loan on the market that you think will save you money over time or offer features that your current loan does not have. Once you have selected a couple of loans you are interested in, compare them with your current loan to see if you will save money in the long term on interest rates and fees. Remember to factor in any break fees and set up fees when assessing the cost of switching.

Once you have decided on a new loan it is simply a matter of contacting your existing and future lender to get the new loan set up. Beware that some lenders will revert your loan back to a 25 or 30 year term when you refinance which may mean initial lower repayments but may cost you more in the long run.

Who has the best home loan?

Determining who has the ‘best’ home loan really does depend on your own personal circumstances and requirements. It may be tempting to judge a loan merely on the interest rate but there can be added value in the extras on offer, such as offset and redraw facilities, that aren’t available with all low rate loans.

To determine which loan is the best for you, think about whether you would prefer the consistency of a fixed loan or the flexibility and potential benefits of a variable loan. Then determine which features will be necessary throughout the life of your loan. Thirdly, consider how much you are willing to pay in fees for the loan you want. Once you find the perfect combination of these three elements you are on your way to determining the best loan for you. 

Can I change jobs while I am applying for a home loan?

Whether you’re a new borrower or you’re refinancing your home loan, many lenders require you to be in a permanent job with the same employer for at least 6 months before applying for a home loan. Different lenders have different requirements. 

If your work situation changes for any reason while you’re applying for a mortgage, this could reduce your chances of successfully completing the process. Contacting the lender as soon as you know your employment situation is changing may allow you to work something out. 

What is a variable home loan?

A variable rate home loan is one where the interest rate can and will change over the course of your loan. The rate is determined by your lender, not the Reserve Bank of Australia, so while the cash rate might go down, your bank may decide not to follow suit, although they do broadly follow market conditions. One of the upsides of variable rates is that they are typically more flexible than their fixed rate counterparts which means that a lot of these products will let you make extra repayments and offer features such as offset accounts.

Remaining loan term

The length of time it will take to pay off your current home loan, based on the currently-entered mortgage balance, monthly repayment and interest rate.

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.

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 does going guarantor' mean?

Going guarantor means a person offers up the equity in their home as security for your loan. This is a serious commitment which can have major repercussions if the person is not able to make their repayments and defaults on their loan. In this scenario, the bank will legally be able to the guarantor until the debt is settled.

Not everyone can be a guarantor. Lenders will generally only allow immediate family members to act as a guarantor but this can sometimes be stretched to include extended family depending on the circumstances.

Mortgage Calculator, Loan Results

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

Mortgage Calculator, Repayments

The money you pay back to your lender at regular intervals. 

Mortgage Calculator, Loan Purpose

This is what you will use the loan for – i.e. investment. 

What is a valuation and valuation fee?

A valuation is an assessment of what your home is worth, calculated by a professional valuer. A valuation report is typically required whenever a property is bought, sold or refinanced. The valuation fee is paid to cover the cost of preparing a valuation report.

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.