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How long does it take to refinance?

How long does it take to refinance?

While most people understand the benefits that refinancing can bring, they also know that the process will take time and effort on their part. But exactly how much time does it take to refinance?

If you’ve never gone through the process before, you may be curious as to how long the different steps take.  

Firstly, it is important to note that there are two stages to the refinancing process; before you refinance and the actual refinancing.

Before you refinance you need to have a clear idea of what your aim is. This will be what guides you through your decision making. It could be to lower your monthly repayment amount, consolidate debt or many other reasons. Establishing this aim is your first step.

After this, make sure you locate all the necessary info about your current loan and any relevant paperwork. Once you have gathered all the information you need you can start comparing alternative loans and pick out an option that suits your aim. With a specific product in mind you can then begin to calculate switch costs and determine the break even point of your loan switch.

Following this initial process is complete, and you have a loan in mind that you want to switch to, you will begin the second phase of the refinancing process. Below is a step by step guide to this process as well as an infographic that will visually guide you through the journey.

The total amount of time it takes to refinance once you begin the process can range from three days, for the Fast Track process, to up to four weeks for the standard process. The three day Fast Track refinancing process, or FastRefi as it is sometimes known, is not offered by all lenders and you can discuss the estimated length of refinancing with a lender in your initial contact with them.

What is the Fast Track refinancing process?

The Fast Track refinancing process is a way of having your loan switched to a new lender in a total of three days. It is offered by lenders as a way of reducing the time between you making the decision to refinance and them closing the deal. The benefit for your new lender is that this gives your old lender less time to offer you incentives to stay. The benefit for you as a customer is that you can have the process completed in a matter of days rather than worrying about it for an extended period of time. 

The main way that the time taken to refinance is reduced in the Fast Track process is by your new lender paying your old lender the outstanding amount of debt before they are given the title to your home. While this cuts out a lot of back and forth communication between lenders, it also means your new lender takes on added risk by being out of pocket before the receive the security for the loan.

To compensate for this risk, the new lender may ask you to pay something called title insurance. This is designed to cover them if there is a hiccup in transferring the title of the home from the old lender after the loan has been settled. Your new lender may offer to cover this expense in some circumstances.  

Lenders that offer Fast Track refinancing 

What is the standard refinancing process? 

The standard refinancing process is when you complete the initial steps to apply for a new loan and then have to wait for your new lender to contact your current lender and arrange the terms of transferring the debt. This can take weeks during which time you will have to wait until your new loan is approved. As a result, the whole process usually takes between 2-4 weeks.

In the standard process, the lender’s will organise the transfer of debt and property title before the loan is settled, meaning you will not have to pay any form of title insurance. 

Low rate refinancing loans

Below are the steps that apply to both the Fast Track and standard refinancing process. 

Suitability talk

This initial step towards refinancing involves you reaching out to your chosen lender to have a chat about your potential suitability for the loan you are interested in. This will generally be conducted over the phone and take about 20-30 minutes. The lender will want to determine whether your employment status and financial situation will meet the serviceability criteria of the loan for which you wish to apply.

This chat is important because the lender should be able to give you a basic idea of whether or not your loan application will be rejected based on the initial information you provide. This can prevent you applying for a loan that is greatly unsuitable and help you avoid a black mark on your credit report from a knocked back application.

Sending identity and finance documentation

 After this initial chat, the lender will guide you in the next step of sending them documents to confirm your identity and what you have verbally told them about your financial status. What the lender needs will vary so ask them for a specific list to make sure you cover everything they need the first time around. They may be OK with documents being sent online or may prefer to receive them by mail. Again, make sure this is outlined in your initial contact to avoid confusion.

You should be able to get these documents sent off on the day after your first contact with the lender. Having these documents prepared before you get to this part of the process will help it go a lot smoother.

Valuation

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Once the lender has received your paper work, and decides to progress the application, they will organise a valuation of your property. Your property will need to be valued so the lender can determine the loan to value ratio which generally needs to be 80 per cent or less. This can be done remotely or physically and depending on which option the lender opts for the process can take differing amounts of time. This is likely to take place on the third day of your loan application, depending on the lender.  

Loan approval

If everything goes smoothly up until this point you will then have the lender approve the loan. The fast tracked version of refinancing will see you progress to this point within 72 hours. The standard process could take up to 2 weeks.

Settlement

After the loan is approved, your new lender will contact your old lender to have the property title and debt transferred. This is the settlement process which can take a couple of weeks to be completed and there may be fees involved.

Set up and discharge fees

Post settlement you will need to make sure you have paid any outstanding set up and discharge fees. Discharge fee range between $100-400 and setup fee are between $300-1,000. Some lenders will cover these fees, however, to make the switching process more attractive. 

The fees associated with switching loans will be covered by your new lender and rolled into the total amount that you owe them. if these fees are left to be paid over the full loan term they will cost you significantly more in interest charges. For this reason, making an extra repayment to cover any fees charged in the early days of your loan is advisable.  

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If I don't like my new lender after I refinance, can I go back to my previous lender?

If you wish to return to your previous lender after refinancing, you will have to go through the refinancing process again and pay a second set of discharge and upfront fees. 

Therefore, before you refinance, it’s important to weigh up the new prospective lender against your current lender in a number of areas, including fees, flexibility, customer service and interest rate.

What does unconditional approval from Aussie Home Loans mean for first time home buyers?

As an Aussie home loan first time home buyer, your loan application passes through multiple stages. Early in the process, you’ll receive conditional approval, which means the lender approves your loan application as long as you meet certain conditions. Some of these criteria include selling another property or repaying existing debt.

The next stage is unconditional approval which is the final decision from the lender. After considering all the relevant information, the lender is willing to offer you a certain amount to buy a specific property.

Unconditional approval is also known as formal or full approval but receiving this doesn’t mean you need to accept the money. If you choose to proceed and accept the funds, you’ll sign the loan documents to finalise the loan and receive the money. You can, at this time, clarify any doubts you have with your Aussie broker.

You’re likely to get conditional approval, sometimes called pre-approval, when you want to get clear on your budget. You’ll then apply for unconditional or formal approval once you’ve found a property and made an offer. This process will involve the lender reviewing your finances and the details of the property you wish to purchase to make sure you can repay a loan on that property.

As a first time buyer, it may help you with the purchasing process to seek pre-approval or conditional approval. This may speed up the final purchasing process and help you through the home loan process in steps rather than all at once.

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.

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.

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. 

Can I refinance if I have other products bundled with my home loan?

If your home loan was part of a package deal that included access to credit cards, transaction accounts or term deposits from the same lender, switching all of these over to a new lender can seem daunting. However, some lenders offer to manage part of this process for you as an incentive to refinance with them – contact your lender to learn more about what they offer.

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.

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. 

How long does ANZ take to approve a home loan?

The process of applying for a home loan usually stays the same across all lenders. On the other hand, the time it takes for a lender to approve the home loan differs from lender to lender. When it comes to ANZ, it takes anywhere between 15 to 18 business days to approve a home loan from the day of the application to approval. This timeframe is highly dependent on the credibility and availability of your documentation. You can apply for an ANZ home loan in two ways; a Quick Start home loan application or a full online application.

If you opt for the Quick Start home loan option, you’ll need to fill out a form with basic details. During this stage, you don’t need to add any supporting information. An ANZ representative will then call you within 48 hours. The representative will help take your application forward, including assessing all relevant information, documentation and conducting a credit check.

You can also submit your entire home loan application with ANZ online by filling out a comprehensive form with all the information and documentation needed.

Once ANZ has conducted the preliminary checks, you’ll be informed of the pre-approved amount they’re willing to offer. Based on this amount, you can set a budget for your property search and make sure you stay inside your budget. Pre-approval will last for three months but can be extended by applying with ANZ if you don’t find a property. But it’s best to find a property as soon as possible as ANZ may decide to change the amount if your financial situation changes.

After you find a property and have your offer accepted, ANZ may send an assessor to the property to verify it’s value. If everything is per their terms and conditions, ANZ will finalise your home loan’s approval and release the funds.

Will I have to pay lenders' mortgage insurance twice if I refinance?

If your deposit was less than 20 per cent of your property’s value when you took out your original loan, you may have paid lenders’ mortgage insurance (LMI) to cover the lender against the risk that you may default on your repayments. 

If you refinance to a new home loan, but still don’t have enough deposit and/or equity to provide 20 per cent security, you’ll need to pay for the lender’s LMI a second time. This could potentially add thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in upfront costs to your mortgage, so it’s important to consider whether the financial benefits of refinancing may be worth these costs.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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.