Jumping the home loan hurdles

Jumping the home loan hurdles

Lynne Blundell investigates the smartest strategies for securing a home loan.

September 14, 2009

What a difference a year makes. Just over 12 months ago interest rates were on the rise and banks were offering home loans for 100 percent of the value of a property. Then the global financial crisis hit, interest rates went into free fall and banks tightened up their lending requirements.

Right now interest rates are at their lowest level for decades. First-time buyers are back in the market following the boost to the federal government’s First Home Owners Scheme and there are signs that the housing sector is recovering. But banks are more cautious about lending and there is talk of interest rate rises.

It can be tough to qualify for a home loan but by having a strategy you can increase your chances, not only of getting the loan you want, but of meeting your payments if interest rates go up.

Deposit requirements are tougher
One casualty of the credit crunch has been the 100 percent loan. It is now pretty much impossible to borrow the full value of your home whether you are a first-time or repeat borrower. This can make things tough if you don’t have a savings history.

Most of the big banks now insist on a deposit of between 5 and 20 percent of the value of the property. Several major banks and some credit unions require a minimum of 10 percent.

If you want to borrow more than 80 percent of the purchase price you will need a deposit that consists of either equity in an existing property or what is referred to as ‘genuine savings’.

‘Genuine savings’ typically means:

•  Money regularly saved over a minimum of three months in a bank account in your own name

•  Term deposit in your name for a minimum of three months

•  Share certificates held in your name for a minimum of three months

•  Sale proceeds from a previous property you owned

•  Accessible superannuation.

Most banks will also insist on lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) if you want to borrow more than 80 percent of a property’s value. This covers them if you are unable to pay your mortgage for any reason in the future and is one way of overcoming the need for a large deposit.

For example, Westpac specifies in its conditions that if you want a standard variable home loan to buy a $500,000 home you will need a deposit of at least $100,000 (20 percent deposit) without mortgage insurance and a minimum of $25,000 (5 percent deposit) if you have mortgage insurance.

Allowing for upfront costs
And don’t forget your upfront costs such as stamp duty, legal fees and loan establishment fees. According to Westpac‘s calculations, when you are borrowing 80 percent of the value for a $500,000 house, upfront costs would typically add up to $21,416.

If you are borrowing more than 80 percent of the value you will need to add mortgage insurance to these costs. According to Westpac, this will cost around $6,720, bringing the total upfront costs with mortgage insurance to around $28,336.

Factoring in future interest rate rises
When choosing your mortgage it is also important to factor in the likelihood of interest rate rises.

While the Reserve Bank of Australia is holding the official interest rate at 3 percent for the time being, once the economy shows real signs of recovery they are likely to rise.

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens told a recent parliamentary committee hearing that people taking out home loans should prepare for future interest rate rises by factoring in an extra 2 percent.

“It used to be the practice, I thought, that certainly banks test whether the borrower could cope with a two percentage-point increase,” Mr Stevens told the House of Representatives Economics Committee hearing.

“I’m not endorsing 2 (percent, but) … lenders should be applying that test.”

Even a 1 percent rise in interest rates would increase repayments on an average variable mortgage of $270,000 (from 5.15 to 6.15 percent p.a.) by more than $162 per month or about $1,944 a year.

One strategy is to split your home loan into part fixed and part variable interest. Another is to repay as much as possible on your variable loan while interest rates remain low.

If you added $160 to your monthly repayments to the average $270,000 home loan now for example, you could potentially save about $40,000 and reduce the loan by four years.

By planning your future and thinking of what features you will need for your home loan, you will be sure to find the best deal when it comes time to compare and apply for a home loan.

 

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Learn more about home loans

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 low-deposit home loan?

A low-deposit home loan is a mortgage where you need to borrow more than 80 per cent of the purchase price – in other words, your deposit is less than 20 per cent of the purchase price.

For example, if you want to buy a $500,000 property, you’ll need a low-deposit home loan if your deposit is less than $100,000 and therefore you need to borrow more than $400,000.

As a general rule, you’ll need to pay LMI (lender’s mortgage insurance) if you take out a low-deposit home loan. You can use this LMI calculator to estimate your LMI payment.

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.

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.

How can I calculate interest on my home loan?

You can calculate the total interest you will pay over the life of your loan by using a mortgage calculator. The calculator will estimate your repayments based on the amount you want to borrow, the interest rate, the length of your loan, whether you are an owner-occupier or an investor and whether you plan to pay ‘principal and interest’ or ‘interest-only’.

If you are buying a new home, the calculator will also help you work out how much you’ll need to pay in stamp duty and other related costs.

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.

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.

How can I get ANZ home loan pre-approval?

Shopping for a new home is an exciting experience and getting a pre-approval on the loan may give you the peace of mind that you are looking at properties within your budget. 

At the time of applying for the ANZ Bank home loan pre-approval, you will be required to provide proof of employment and income, along with records of your savings and debts.

An ANZ home loan pre-approval time frame is usually up to three months. However, being pre-approved doesn’t necessarily mean you will get your home loan. Other factors could lead to your home loan application being rejected, even with a prior pre-approval. Some factors include the property evaluation not meeting the bank’s criteria or a change in your financial circumstances.

You can make an application for ANZ home loan pre-approval online or call on 1800100641 Mon-Fri 8.00 am to 8.00 pm (AEST).

What are the pros and cons of no-deposit home loans?

It’s no longer possible to get a no-deposit home loan in Australia. In some circumstances, you might be able to take out a mortgage with a 5 per cent deposit – but before you do so, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons.

The big advantage of borrowing 95 per cent (also known as a 95 per cent home loan) is that you get to buy your property sooner. That may be particularly important if you plan to purchase in a rising market, where prices are increasing faster than you can accumulate savings.

But 95 per cent home loans also have disadvantages. First, the 95 per cent home loan market is relatively small, so you’ll have fewer options to choose from. Second, you’ll probably have to pay LMI (lender’s mortgage insurance). Third, you’ll probably be charged a higher interest rate. Fourth, the more you borrow, the more you’ll ultimately have to pay in interest. Fifth, if your property declines in value, your mortgage might end up being worth more than your home.

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.

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. 

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.

How do I take out a low-deposit home loan?

If you want to take out a low-deposit home loan, it might be a good idea to consult a mortgage broker who can give you professional financial advice and organise the mortgage for you.

Another way to take out a low-deposit home loan is to do your own research with a comparison website like RateCity. Once you’ve identified your preferred mortgage, you can apply through RateCity or go direct to the lender.

What are the responsibilities of a mortgage broker?

Mortgage brokers act as the go-between for borrowers looking for a home loan and the lenders offering the loan. They offer personalised advice to help borrowers choose the right home loan for their needs.

In Australia, mortgage brokers are required by law to carry an Australian Credit License (ACL) if they offer credit assistance services. Which is the legal term for guidance regarding the different kinds of credit offered by lenders, including home loan mortgages. They may not need this license if they are working for an aggregator, for instance, as a franchisee. In both these situations, they need to comply with the regulations laid down by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

These regulations, which are stipulated by Australian legislation, require mortgage brokers to comply with what are called “responsible lending” and “best interest” obligations. Responsible lending obligations mean brokers have to suggest “suitable” home loans. This means loans that you can easily qualify for,  actually meet your needs, and don’t prove unnecessarily challenging for you.

Starting 1 January 2021, mortgage brokers must comply with best interest obligations in addition to responsible lending obligations. These require mortgage brokers to act in the best interest of their customers and also requires them to prioritise their customers’ interests over their own. For instance, a mortgage broker may not recommend a lender who gives them a commission if that lender’s home loan offer does not benefit that particular customer.