Can a home loan be used for renovations?
Traditional real estate advice says to buy the worst house in the best street – you can pay less today and renovate tomorrow. But renovating still costs money, so you may want to look into the options for using your home loan to help take care of your budget.
There are a few different ways you can potentially use a home loan to pay for a renovation, both directly and sometimes indirectly.
Get a construction loan
If a real estate listing uses phrases like “fixer-upper”, “renovator’s dream” or “bring your builder”, there’s a chance you may not be able to use a regular home loan to buy this property, as its value may not be enough to secure the mortgage. If a property (including vacant land) requires extensive building or renovation work, a special construction loan may be used to pay for it.
Unlike a traditional mortgage, you don’t receive all of the money as a lump sum at the start of a construction loan. Instead, you draw down money in stages as you progress through the project, to pay for each stage of construction. You’ll usually make interest-only repayments on the money drawn down from a construction loan until the work is completed, whereupon the mortgage will revert to a more typical principal and interest home loan.
Keep in mind that a construction loan is typically more involved than other home loans, as your lender will conduct regular valuations throughout the construction project to help ensure the property maintains its value. There may also be other terms and conditions involved, such as having the work carried out by qualified and licensed builders and tradespeople – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do it yourself as an owner-builder, unless you have the right qualifications, licenses and insurances.
Borrow extra money to renovate
If you’re buying a property or refinancing an existing home loan, you may have the option to borrow a little more than you’d normally need and use this extra cash to pay for renovations.
Keep in mind that getting a bigger loan may require you to hold a bigger deposit or more equity, especially if you want to avoid paying for Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI). Also, a bigger loan means making bigger repayments, costing you more from month to month.
Finally, by paying interest on the cost of your renovation over a term of 20 to 30 years, your project could ultimately end up costing a lot more in the long term than it would by paying for it upfront.
Use your redraw
Have you been making extra repayments on your home loan for a few years? If you’re well ahead on your mortgage repayments, there may be a simple way to renovate your property, using your home loan’s redraw facility.
This mortgage feature lets you take any extra repayments you’ve previously made back out of your home loan again when you need them, such as for last-minute emergencies like medical bills or car repairs, or for projects like renovations.
Keep in mind that redrawing money from your home loan can effectively undo some of the good work you’d done of making the extra repayments in the first place. Extra repayments can help reduce your home loan’s principal, bringing you closer to exiting your loan earlier and shrinking your interest charges. Using this money for renovations may mean your loan takes longer to repay, costing you more in interest charges over the long term.
Unlock your equity with a line of credit
The current value of your home, minus the amount still owing on your mortgage, is called your equity. If you’ve been making regular mortgage repayments (including extra repayments) for a few years, and your property has increased in value since you bought it, you may have more equity available in your property than you realise.
Equity can be used for a range of purposes, including securing access to credit. A line of credit may let you borrow money against the value of your home equity, including spending on renovation projects.
A line of credit works a lot like credit card, except the maximum credit limit is effectively your home equity, so you can usually borrow more money. Much like a credit card, you’ll only be charged interest on the money you borrow, and the repayments are flexible. This can be handy if you plan to renovate a property over a longer period and pay off each stage of the project one at a time.
Of course, much like a credit card, it’s important to keep an eye on those interest charges, and avoid letting them build up to a point where you can no longer comfortably afford to pay off your debt.
Use a personal loan, secured by your equity
Another potential use for your home equity is to secure a personal loan, separate from your home loan. Secured personal loans often have lower interest rates than unsecured personal loans, and because they typically have shorter loan terms than home loans (often anywhere from 12 months to 10 years), you may pay less total interest on the cost of your renovations.
However, there are risks involved. Chiefly, if you default on personal your loan, this could mean losing your security – in this case, your house. Additionally, personal loans often have higher interest rates than most home loans.
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Personal Finance Editor
Mark Bristow is RateCity's Home & Personal Finances Editor, and an experienced analyst, researcher, and producer. Working for over ten years, Mark previously wrote and researched commercial real estate at CoreLogic, and has seen articles published at Lifehacker and Business Insider, among others.
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How do I apply for a home improvement loan?
When you want to renovate your home, you may need to take out a loan to cover the costs. You could apply for a home improvement loan, which is a personal loan that you use to cover the costs of your home renovations. There is no difference between applying for this type of home improvement loan and applying for a standard personal loan. It would be best to check and compare the features, fees and details of the loan before applying.
Besides taking out a home improvement loan, you could also:
- Use the equity in your house: Equity is the difference between your property’s value and the amount you still owe on your home loan. You may be able to access this equity by refinancing your home loan and then using it to finance your home improvement. Speak with your lender or a mortgage broker about accessing your equity.
- Utilise the redraw facility of your home loan: Check whether the existing home loan has a redraw facility. A redraw facility allows you to access additional funds you’ve repaid into your home loan. Some lenders offer this on variable rate home loans but not on fixed. If this option is available to you, contact your lender to discuss how to access it.
- Apply for a construction loan: A construction loan is typically used when constructing a new property but can also be used as a home renovation loan. You may find that a construction loan is a suitable option as it enables you to draw funds as your renovation project progresses. You can compare construction home loans online or speak to a mortgage broker about taking out such a loan.
- Look into government grants: Check whether there are any government grants offered when you need the funds and whether you qualify. Initiatives like the HomeBuilder Grant were offered by the Federal Government for a limited period until April 2021. They could help fund your renovations either in full or just partially.
Can I take a personal loan after a home loan?
Are you struggling to pay the deposit for your dream home? A personal loan can help you pay the deposit. The question that may arise in your mind is can I take a home loan after a personal loan, or can you take a personal loan at the same time as a home loan, as it is. The answer is that, yes, provided you can meet the general eligibility criteria for both a personal loan and a home loan, your application should be approved. Those eligibility criteria may include:
- Higher-income to show repayment capability for both the loans
- Clear credit history with no delays in bill payments or defaults on debts
- Zero or minimal current outstanding debt
- Some amount of savings
- Proven rent history will be positively perceived by the lenders
A personal loan after or during a home loan may impact serviceability, however, as the numbers can seriously add up. Every loan you avail of increases your monthly installments and the amount you use to repay the personal loan will be considered to lower the money available for the repayment of your home loan.
As to whether you can get a personal loan after your home loan, the answer is a very likely "yes", though it does come with a caveat: as long as you can show sufficient income to repay both the loans on time, you should be able to get that personal loan approved. A personal loan can also help to improve your credit score showing financial discipline and responsibility, which may benefit you with more favorable terms for your home loan.
Is a home equity loan secured or unsecured?
Home equity is the difference between its current market price and the outstanding balance on the mortgage loan. The amount you can borrow against the equity in your property is known as a home equity loan.
A home equity loan is secured against your property. It means the lender can recoup your property if you default on the repayments. A secured home equity loan is available at a competitive rate of interest and may be repaid over the long-term. Although a home equity loan is secured, lenders will assess your income, expenses, and other liabilities before approving your application. You’ll also want a good credit score to qualify for a home equity loan.
Can I borrow extra on my mortgage for furniture?
Yes, you may be able to borrow extra on your mortgage for furniture. This may be done by considering a home equity loan. A home equity loan may allow you to access the equity in your mortgage for furniture via:
- A line of credit – A pre-approved credit limit based on your equity.
- A lump sum payment – Like a persona loan, with equity in your home loan used as security.
If you want to avoid borrowing more money, consider accessing cash deposited into your offset account or drawing down on extra repayments with a redraw facility to fund furniture purchases.
How do you determine which home loan rates/products I’m shown?
When you check your home loan rate, you’ll supply some basic information about your current loan, including the amount owing on your mortgage and your current interest rate.
We’ll compare this information to the home loan options in the RateCity database and show you which home loan products you may be eligible to apply for.
What is the average length of a home loan?
Most Aussie lenders offer home loans with a 30-year term, meaning that you should pay back the full loan amount and the interest you owe on the amount in 30 years.
However, home loans can also have a shorter or longer term. They may be as low as ten years or up to 45 years, depending on the product and lender.
It’s worth remembering that a longer loan term usually means you’ll end up paying a lot more interest in total, but your scheduled repayments may be more manageable. In contrast, you could opt for a shorter loan term if you are comfortable making large repayments in exchange for paying less interest over the term of the loan.
Can you borrow the deposit for a home loan?
Most lenders will want the majority of your home loan deposit to be made up of ‘genuine savings’ which is income earned from your job. While a small number of lenders may let you use a personal loan or a credit card to help cover the cost of your deposit, this may potentially cost you more in interest, and put your finances at higher risk.
If you haven’t saved a full deposit, it may be possible to effectively borrow the deposit for a mortgage with the help of a guarantor. This is usually a parent of other family member who guarantees your mortgage with the equity in their own property.
It may also be possible to borrow the money for a home loan deposit from a family member (e.g. the Bank of Mum & Dad) or a friend, provided you draw up a formal legal agreement to pay this money back, showing your mortgage lender that you’re taking responsibility.
Can I get a home renovation loan with bad credit?
If you're looking for funds to pay for repairs or renovations to your home, but you have a low credit score, you need to carefully consider your options. If you already have a mortgage, a good starting point is to check whether you can redraw money from that. You could also consider applying for a new home loan.
Before taking out a new loan, it’s good to note that lenders are likely to charge higher interest rates on home repair loans for bad credit customers. Alternatively, they may be willing to lend you a smaller amount than a standard loan. You may also face some challenges with getting your home renovation loan application approved. If you do run into trouble, you can speak to your lender and ask whether they would be willing to approve your application if you have a guarantor or co-signer. You should also explain the reasons behind your bad credit rating and the steps that you’re taking to improve it.
Consulting a financial advisor or mortgage broker can help you understand your options and make the right choice.
How much deposit do I need for a home loan from ANZ?
Like other mortgage lenders, ANZ often prefers a home loan deposit of 20 per cent or more of the property value when you’re applying for a home loan. It may be possible to get a home loan with a smaller deposit of 10 per cent or even 5 per cent, but there are a few reasons to consider saving a larger deposit if possible:
- A larger deposit tells a lender that you’re a great saver, which could help increase the chances of your home loan application getting approved.
- The more money you pay as a deposit, the less you’ll have to borrow in your home loan. This could mean paying off your loan sooner, and being charged less total interest.
- If your deposit is less than 20 per cent of the property value, you might incur additional costs, such as Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI).
What is a secured home loan?
When the lender creates a mortgage on your property, they’re offering you a secured home loan. It means you’re offering the property as security to the lender who holds this security against the risk of default or any delays in home loan repayments. Suppose you’re unable to repay the loan. In this case, the lender can take ownership of your property and sell it to recover any outstanding funds you owe. The lender retains this hold over your property until you repay the entire loan amount.
If you take out a secured home loan, you may be charged a lower interest rate. The amount you can borrow depends on the property’s value and the deposit you can pay upfront. Generally, lenders allow you to borrow between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of the property value as the loan. Often, you’ll need Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) if the deposit is less than 20 per cent of the property value. Lenders will also do a property valuation to ensure you’re borrowing enough to cover the purchase.
Can first home buyers apply for an ING home loan?
First home buyers can apply for an ING home loan, but first, they need to select the most suitable home loan product and calculate the initial deposit on their home loan.
First-time buyers can also use ING’s online tool to estimate the amount they can borrow. ING offers home loan applicants a free property report to look up property value estimates.
First home loan applicants struggling to understand the terms used may consider looking up ING’s first home buyer guide. Once the home buyer is ready to apply for the loan, they can complete an online application or call ING at 1800 100 258 during regular business hours.
What is a draw down?
The transfer of money from a lending institution to a borrower. In a typical home loan, the funds are drawn down all at once in order to buy the property. In a construction loan, the money is drawn down in several stages to pay the builders as they progress through each phase of the project. In a line of credit loan, you can draw down money up to a limit based on your loan’s available equity.
What is an interest-only loan? How do I work out interest-only loan repayments?
An ‘interest-only’ loan is a loan where the borrower is only required to pay back the interest on the loan. Typically, banks will only let lenders do this for a fixed period of time – often five years – however some lenders will be happy to extend this.
Interest-only loans are popular with investors who aren’t keen on putting a lot of capital into their investment property. It is also a handy feature for people who need to reduce their mortgage repayments for a short period of time while they are travelling overseas, or taking time off to look after a new family member, for example.
While moving on to interest-only will make your monthly repayments cheaper, ultimately, you will end up paying your bank thousands of dollars extra in interest to make up for the time where you weren’t paying off the principal.
How can I pay off my home loan faster?
The quickest way to pay off your home loan is to make regular extra contributions in addition to your monthly repayments to pay down the principal as fast as possible. This in turn reduces the amount of interest paid overall and shortens the length of the loan.
Another option may be to increase the frequency of your payments to fortnightly or weekly, rather than monthly, which may then reduce the amount of interest you are charged, depending on how your lender calculates repayments.