Mutual benefits: what's a non-bank?

Mutual benefits: what's a non-bank?

While Australia’s big four banks – ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac –often dominate headlines with their high profit returns, non-banks have been quietly raising their profile by banding together.

Unlike the publicly listed big banks, which have  a responsibility to maximise profits for shareholders, credit unions, mutual building societies and mutual banks focus on their members – or customers. Each member owns the organisation they belong to and can vote in its governance. Profits are reinvested into products, competitive mortgage rates and savings rates, or paid back to members.

Historically, credit unions and mutual banks were linked to specific professions, such as teachers, nurses or the police force. Now many are open to anyone.

Close to 4.5 million Australians are members of credit unions, mutual building societies and mutual banks, and the mutual sector has combined assets of approximately $85 billion, according to industry body Customer Owned Banking Association. The sector is made up of 83 credit unions, 10 mutual banks and seven mutual building societies.

Non-banks offer the same kind of products as banks, often at more competitive rates, including credit cards, debit cards, mortgages, term deposits, car loans and personal loans.

Stronger banking competition

Research released last month by Essential Research, commissioned by the Customer Owned Banking Association, revealed that three-quarters of Australians believe consumers would benefit if there were stronger competitors to the big four banks. Additionally, more than half (57%) believe there is no genuine competition between the big four banks.

“Unfair advantages in the system have strengthened the market power of the big four banks, meaning less competition and less choice for consumers,” Customer Owned Banking Association CEO Louise Petschler said.

“Australians understand this – 69 percent of Australians believe there needs to be more competition in the banking sector. We believe that the system must change to create a level playing field for smaller players in the market, including customer owned banking institutions.”

The fifth pillar of banking

Collectively, credit unions, mutual banks and building societies are the fifth largest holder of household deposits in Australia – with a 10.5 percent share of household deposits as at September 2013 – which has prompted observers to dub them the “fifth pillar of banking”.

Former Labor Tresurer Wayne Swan referred to credit unions and other non-banks as the  “fifth pillar” of banking four years ago, at the height of the debate about the competitive dominance of the big four. Back in 2010, the then Treasurer said: “I’m determined to see another pillar in our banking system built from the combined competitive power of our mutuals, credit unions and building societies, because I’ve always been a big believer in their capacity to be a strong force for competition in the banking sector.”

Like any financial decision, if you are considering banking with a credit union, mutual bank or building society, it’s important to do your homework and choose the best option available for your needs.

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Learn more about home loans

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. 

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.

Do the big four banks have guarantor home loans?

Yes, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac all offer guarantor home loans. These mortgages are also offered by many other banks, credit unions and building societies.

What is a credit file?

A comprehensive summary of your credit history from an authorised credit reporting agency.

It includes your credit details, credit taken in the last five years, any default payments or credit infringements, arrears, repayment history, bankruptcy filings and a list of credit applications (including unapproved credit applications) in addition to your personal details.

What is a bad credit home loan?

A bad credit home loan is a mortgage for people with a low credit score. Lenders regard bad credit borrowers as riskier than ‘vanilla’ borrowers, so they tend to charge higher interest rates for bad credit home loans.

If you want a bad credit home loan, you’re more likely to get approved by a small non-bank lender than by a big four bank or another mainstream lender.

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.

How long does Bankwest take to approve home loans?

Full approval for a home loan usually involves a property valuation, which, Bankwest suggests, can take “a week or two”. As a result, getting your home loan approved may take longer. However, you may get full approval within this time if you applied for and received conditional approval, sometimes called a pre-approval, from Bankwest before finalising the home you want to buy.  

Another way of speeding up approvals can be by completing, signing, and submitting your home loan application digitally. Essentially, you give the bank or your mortgage broker a copy of your home’s sale contract and then complete the rest of the steps online. Bankwest has claimed this cuts the approval time to less than four days, although this may only happen if your income and credit history can be verified easily, or if your home’s valuation doesn’t take time.

Can I get a NAB home loan on casual employment?

While many lenders consider casual employees as high-risk borrowers because of their fluctuating incomes, there are a few specialist lenders, such as NAB, which may provide home loans to individuals employed on a casual basis. A NAB home loan for casual employment is essentially a low doc home loan specifically designed to help casually employed individuals who may be unable to provide standard financial documents. However, since such loans are deemed high risk compared to regular home loans, you could be charged higher rates and receive lower maximum LVRs (Loan to Value Ratio, which is the loan amount you can borrow against the value of the property).

While applying for a home loan as a casual employee, you will likely be asked to demonstrate that you've been working steadily and might need to provide group certificates for the last two years. It is at the lender’s discretion to pick either of the two group certificates and consider that to be your income. If you’ve not had the same job for several years, providing proof of income could be a bit of a challenge for you. In this scenario, some lenders may rely on your year to date (YTD) income, and instead calculate your yearly income from that.

Can I apply for an ANZ non-resident home loan? 

You may be eligible to apply for an ANZ non-resident home loan only if you meet the following two conditions:

  1. You hold a Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa or its predecessor, the Temporary Skilled Work (subclass 457) visa.
  2. Your job is included in the Australian government’s Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List. 

However, non-resident home loan applications may need Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval in addition to meeting ANZ’s Mortgage Credit Requirements. Also, they may not be eligible for loans that require paying for Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI). As a result, you may not be able to borrow more than 80 per cent of your home’s value. However, you can apply as a co-borrower with your spouse if they are a citizen of either Australia or New Zealand, or are a permanent resident.

Why should I get an ING home loan pre-approval?

When you apply for an ING home loan pre-approval, you might be required to provide proof of employment and income, savings, as well as details on any on-going debts. The lender could also make a credit enquiry against your name. If you’re pre-approved, you will know how much money ING is willing to lend you. 

Please note, however, that a pre-approval is nothing more than an idea of your ability to borrow funds and is not the final approval. You should receive the home loan approval  only after finalising the property and submitting a formal loan application to the lender, ING. Additionally, a pre-approval does not stay valid indefinitely, since your financial circumstances and the home loan market could change overnight.

 

 

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

To ensure that you find the right type of property, it’s a good idea to get pre-approval on your home loan. This helps you to know the maximum amount you’ll be able to borrow from the lender. Westpac offers “Approval in Principle”, which allows you to look for properties and narrow your search based on the amount you can borrow. 

You can apply for a Westpac pre-approval home loan by requesting a callback, applying online or visiting your local branch. Westpac will take some basic details about your income and debt to help them with their decision. Based on this information, Approval in Principle will be given and is valid for 90 days from when it is approved. You can request an extension or renewal of the Approval in Principle if you don’t find a property within 90 days. Provided that there is no change in your financial situation, your approval will be extended for another 90 days.

Should I apply for a NAB home loan pre-approval?

Buying a new home is an exciting event in anybody’s life. Getting pre-approval means you know what you can afford so you don’t waste time looking at properties outside your budget. With a NAB Bank home loan pre-approval, you can look for your new home with confidence. The lender knows you’re serious about the purchase and also exhibits a willingness to lend you money.

Applying for a NAB home loan pre-approval is relatively straightforward. You might be asked to provide proof of employment and income, details of any savings as well as any on-going debts. NAB may also conduct a credit check on you to see if you’d be a risky borrower. If NAB offers you pre-approval after these checks, you’ll know how much money they’re willing to lend you. The NAB Bank home loan pre-approval is valid for 90 days from application, so don’t apply too early and be aware of this when looking for a property. If your pre-approval expires before you find a property you’ll need to reapply.

You can apply online for NAB home loan pre-approval, visit your nearest NAB branch, call on 13 79 79, or set up an appointment. If you choose to book an appointment, it can be done in person, via video, over a call or you can have a NAB Bank representative visit you.

 

 

 

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.