Investors beware: house prices don't always rise

Investors beware: house prices don't always rise

Investing in bricks and mortar is a safe bet, right? According to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), this is not always the case as the central bank warns home investment won’t always bring home the bacon. 

Recent comments from Glenn Stevens, RBA Governor, could make some Australians nervous by reminding them that house prices don’t always rise and aren’t a guaranteed safe investment.

However, careful financial planning, diversified investments and a high interest savings account may help cushion homeowners from potential pitfalls.

What’s the deal with house prices?

Addressing The Econometric Society Australasian Meeting and the Australian Conference of Economists in Hobart on July 3, Stevens had some sage comments.

“The rise in the value of loan approvals over the past year of around 20 percent is certainly significant,” said Stevens.

Thanks to a record-low cash rate (2.5 percent), a climate of affordable home loans has been evident across the country. Demand from home buyers, investors and foreign buyers and limited housing stocks in some areas has seen dramatic price rises.

However, homeowners should ensure their homes are not their sole financial safety net.

“The first is that in forming expectations about future price gains and deciding their financing structure, people should not assume that prices always rise. They don’t; sometimes they fall,” Stevens noted.

Will prices continue to rise?

“First, with dwelling prices having fallen between 2010 and 2012, some recovery was not in itself particularly cause for concern, certainly not initially,” Stevens explained. 

However, some buyers have become frustrated with the increasing prices. For instance, Sydney dwelling prices have soared 15.94 percent year-on-year to July 8, according to RP Data daily indices. 

Melbourne has followed closely behind, with a 10.48 percent year-on-year hike. 

That said, softening markets may be imminent. For example, while Sydney prices have increased dramatically year-on-year, in the three months to July 8, growth was just 1.31 percent.

In Melbourne, it was 0.36 percent, while dwelling values in Adelaide dropped by 0.85 percent in the three months to July 8.

For many Australians, homeownership is generally a long-term commitment. Property cycles will see dwelling values lift and drop, putting homeowners in a more comfortable position if they’re financially able to hold onto their properties in the long term.

The RBA is monitoring the situation accordingly.

What’s on the agenda?

Stevens explained that one factor behind the low cash rate is the desire for a pickup in housing construction, which is much-needed in cities with burgeoning populations, such as Sydney and Melbourne.

“Some pick-up in housing prices as a result of lower interest rates was to be expected; it shows that monetary policy is working and is part of the normal transmission process.”

However, Stevens was cautious, noting that this approach loses its persuasiveness if property valuations continue to soar, with potential for markets to swing the other way.

Appropriate financial planning can help Australians realise their individual financial goals.

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Learn more about home loans

Cash or mortgage – which is more suitable to buy an investment property?

Deciding whether to buy an investment property with cash or a mortgage is a matter or personal choice and will often depend on your financial situation. Using cash may seem logical if you have the money in reserve and it can allow you to later use the equity in your home. However, there may be other factors to think about, such as whether there are other debts to pay down and whether it will tie up all of your spare cash. Again, it’s a personal choice and may be worth seeking personal advice.

A mortgage is a popular option for people who don’t have enough cash in the bank to pay for an investment property. Sometimes when you take out a mortgage you can offset your loan interest against the rental income you may earn. The rental income can also help to pay down the loan.

What are the features of home loans for expats from Westpac?

If you’re an Australian citizen living and working abroad, you can borrow to buy a property in Australia. With a Westpac non-resident home loan, you can borrow up to 80 per cent of the property value to purchase a property whilst living overseas. The minimum loan amount for these loans is $25,000, with a maximum loan term of 30 years.

The interest rates and other fees for Westpac non-resident home loans are the same as regular home loans offered to borrowers living in Australia. You’ll have to submit proof of income, six-month bank statements, an employment letter, and your last two payslips. You may also be required to submit a copy of your passport and visa that shows you’re allowed to live and work abroad.

When do mortgage payments start after settlement?

Generally speaking, your first mortgage payment falls due one month after the settlement date. However, this may vary based on your mortgage terms. You can check the exact date by contacting your lender.

Usually your settlement agent will meet the seller’s representatives to exchange documents at an agreed place and time. The balance purchase price is paid to the seller. The lender will register a mortgage against your title and give you the funds to purchase the new home.

Once the settlement process is complete, the lender allows you to draw down the loan. The loan amount is debited from your loan account. As soon as the settlement paperwork is sorted, you can collect the keys to your new home and work your way through the moving-in checklist.

When does Commonwealth Bank charge an early exit fee?

When you take out a fixed interest home loan with the Commonwealth Bank, you’re able to lock the interest for a particular period. If the rates change during this period, your repayments remain unchanged. If you break the loan during the fixed interest period, you’ll have to pay the Commonwealth Bank home loan early exit fee and an administrative fee.

The Early Repayment Adjustment (ERA) and Administrative fees are applicable in the following instances:

  • If you switch your loan from fixed interest to variable rate
  • When you apply for a top-up home loan
  • If you repay over and above the annual threshold limit, which is $10,000 per year during the fixed interest period
  • When you prepay the entire outstanding loan balance before the end of the fixed interest duration.

The fee calculation depends on the interest rates, the amount you’ve repaid and the loan size. You can contact the lender to understand more about what you may have to pay. 

Why does Westpac charge an early termination fee for home loans?

The Westpac home loan early termination fee or break cost is applicable if you have a fixed rate home loan and repay part of or the whole outstanding amount before the fixed period ends. If you’re switching between products before the fixed period ends, you’ll pay a switching break cost and an administrative fee. 

The Westpac home loan early termination fee may not apply if you repay an amount below the prepayment threshold. The prepayment threshold is the amount Westpac allows you to repay during the fixed period outside your regular repayments.

Westpac charges this fee because when you take out a home loan, the bank borrows the funds with wholesale rates available to banks and lenders. Westpac will then work out your interest rate based on you making regular repayments for a fixed period. If you repay before this period ends, the lender may incur a loss if there is any change in the wholesale rate of interest.

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.

What happens to my home loan when interest rates rise?

If you are on a variable rate home loan, every so often your rate will be subject to increases and decreases. Rate changes are determined by your lender, not the Reserve Bank of Australia, however often when the RBA changes the cash rate, a number of banks will follow suit, at least to some extent. You can use RateCity cash rate to check how the latest interest rate change affected your mortgage interest rate.

When your rate rises, you will be required to pay your bank more each month in mortgage repayments. Similarly, if your interest rate is cut, then your monthly repayments will decrease. Your lender will notify you of what your new repayments will be, although you can do the calculations yourself, and compare other home loan rates using our mortgage calculator.

There is no way of conclusively predicting when interest rates will go up or down on home loans so if you prefer a more stable approach consider opting for a fixed rate loan.

How to apply for a pre-approval home loan from Bendigo Bank?

Applying for pre-approval on your home loan gives you confidence in your ability to secure finance while looking at potential new homes. You can get a free and personalised pre-approval home loan from Bendigo Bank in just a few minutes, without any credit checks or paperwork. 

Bendigo Bank offers pre-approval for home loans that allow you to understand the home loan size you may be able to get before looking for a new home. 

With the pre-approval, Bendigo Bank provides an estimate of your borrowing power. This figure incorporates stamp duty, lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) and any first home buyer incentives you may be eligible for. You may also qualify for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme initiative, depending on your circumstances. 

To apply for a pre-approval on your home loan from Bendigo Bank, all you need to do is fill in a smart form. You could also contact the bank directly on 1300 236 344.

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.

How do I apply for a home loan pre-approval from Commonwealth Bank?

To apply for a Commbank home loan pre-approval, you can either call the bank at 13 2224 or meet one of the bank’s lending specialists. You can set up a meeting online if you wish. You’ll need to do some homework before contacting the bank, such as gathering information on the kind of properties you’d like to buy and their prices.

Preparing a financial summary, which lists all your income sources as well as significant expenses, can also help determine how much you can afford to borrow. You may also want to check your credit score before applying for pre-approval.

It’s worth remembering that a CBA home loan pre-approval doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the loan. Once you get the pre-approval, you’ll have about three to six months to decide on a property and apply for the home loan. The bank will then confirm that the property is suitable for the loan before fully approving it.

Does the Home Loan Rate Promise apply to discounted interest rate offers, such as honeymoon rates?

No. Temporary discounts to home loan interest rates will expire after a limited time, so they aren’t valid for comparing home loans as part of the Home Loan Rate Promise.

However, if your home loan has been discounted from the lender’s standard rate on a permanent basis, you can check if we can find an even lower rate that could apply to you.

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.

What is the Home Loan Rate Promise?

The Home Loan Rate Promise is RateCity putting its money where its mouth is. We believe that too many Australians are paying too much for their home loans. We’re so confident we can help Aussies save money, if we can’t beat your current rate, we’ll give you a $100 gift card.*

There are two reasons it pays to check your rate with the Home Loan Rate Promise:

  • You can find out how much you could save on your home loan by switching to a loan with a lower interest rate
  • If we can’t beat your current rate, you can claim a $100 gift card with our Home Loan Rate Promise*

What are the benefits of getting a pre-approved home loan from Citibank?

While hunting for your dream home, getting a Citibank home loan pre-approval can have multiple benefits, which include:

  • You'll have an idea on your personal price range, which can save time to find your home.
  • With a pre-approved home loan, you may find yourself with more financial control to better decide how much you can spend.
  • A Citibank pre-approved home loan is a commitment  by a lender that signals you're ready to jump into the property market.

You can apply for pre-approval by providing basic details, such as name, email, and phone number on the bank’s website. Alternatively, you can contact the bank on 1300 361 922 or find a home lending officer on the website.