Not all exit' fees have been banned!
The fixed versus variable home loan debate
Choosing between variable, fixed and split rate home loans can be like engaging in the chance game of paper, rocks, scissors. Choosing your opponents next move can be just as hard as trying to predict the property market and interest rate changes.
Looking beyond the rate, other home loan features to get excited about
Many of us get hung up on interest rates when comparing different home loans. It’s easy to understand why – “the lower the rate, the better the loan” is a very simple formula to understand.
How long does it take to break even after refinancing?
One of the most common questions that property owners who are considering refinancing have is around the cost of the process: "How long will it be until I cover my switch cost and actually start saving?"
Why now could be the time to fix your rate
A week ago today, the RBA decided to keep the cash rate on hold at the historic low of 1.5 per cent. With only one more meeting left this year and no meeting held in January, economists predict that the cash rate is likely to remain steady for at least a few months to come.
Laine Gordon is the Head of Public Relations at RateCity. With a background in journalism, Laine brings over a decade of experience in personal finance to the team. She is passionate about helping people get out of debt, save money, and make better decisions about their own finances.
Share this article
Today's top home loans products
We are giving away, for one lucky entrant, the chance to win $1 million. Here’s how it will work:
On 21 May 2020, one winner will be drawn from all the entries. This winner will then get a one in 200 shot at winning one million dollars. Even if they’re unlucky and don’t win the one million, they’ll still leave $5000 richer.
The Rate Guarantee 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 three reasons it pays to check your rate with the RateCity Rate Guarantee:
- 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 Rate Guarantee*
- Everyone who checks their home loan will be entered in the draw for a chance to win $1 million!^
Real Time RatingsTM ranks home loans according to cost and flexibility. This allows you to compare products using a simple score out of five.
Our world-first system analyses almost 4,000 mortgages based on your individual requirements. Best of all, the results are generated in real time, so if a lender has just hiked its interest rates or introduced extra fees, our system has factored this in.
Tip: You can use RateCity how much can I borrow calculator to get a quick answer.
How much money you can borrow for a home loan will depend on a number of factors including your employment status, your income (and your partner’s income if you are taking out a joint loan), the size of your deposit, your living expenses and any other debt you might hold, including credit cards.
A good place to start is to work out how much you can afford to make in monthly repayments, factoring in a buffer of at least 2 – 3 per cent to allow for interest rate rises along the way. You’ll also need to factor in additional costs that come with purchasing a property such as stamp duty, legal fees, building inspections, strata or council fees.
If you are planning on renting the property, you can factor in the expected rental income to help offset the mortgage, but again it’s prudent to add a significant buffer to allow for rental management fees, maintenance costs and short periods of no rental income when tenants move out. It’s also wise to factor in changes in personal circumstances – the typical home loan lasts for around 30 years and a lot can happen between now and then.
A deposit of 20 per cent or more is ideal as it’s typically the amount a lender sees as ‘safe’. Being a safe borrower is a good position to be in as you’ll have a range of lenders to pick from, with some likely to offer up a lower interest rate as a reward. Additionally, a deposit of over 20 per cent usually eliminates the need for lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI) which can add thousands to the cost of buying your home.
While you can get a loan with as little as 5 per cent deposit, it’s definitely not the most advisable way to enter the home loan market. Banks view people with low deposits as ‘high risk’ and often charge higher interest rates as a precaution. The smaller your deposit, the more you’ll also have to pay in LMI as it works on a sliding scale dependent on your deposit size.
RateCity wants to prove that it pays to check your home loan rate, and provide some extra motivation for doing so. We want to encourage people to take an active interest in their home loans, and gain a thorough understanding of what they’re paying and how much they could save.
Real Time RatingsTM looks at your individual home loan requirements and uses this information to rank every applicable home loan in our database out of five.
This score is based on two main factors – cost and flexibility.
Cost is calculated by looking at the interest rates and fees over the first five years of the loan.
Flexibility is based on whether a loan offers features such as an offset account, redraw facility and extra repayments.
Real Time RatingsTM also includes the following assumptions:
- Costs are calculated on the current variable rate however they could change in the future.
- Loans are assumed to be principal and interest
- Fixed-rate loans with terms greater than five years are still assessed on a five-year basis, so 10-year fixed loans are assessed as being only five years’ long.
- Break costs are not included.
To check your rate, start by entering your contact details and home loan information at ratecity.com.au. We’ll compare your current home loan to other options in our database, and let you know how much you could save by refinancing.
If we can’t beat your current rate, you can claim a $100 gift card by confirming your home loan details with us.*
Whether we find you a lower rate or not, all entries will go in the draw to win a chance at $1 million.^
Any Australian resident who is over 18 and currently has a personal home loan is eligible for our Rate Guarantee. See terms and conditions.
Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI) is an insurance policy, which protects your bank if you default on the loan (i.e. stop paying your loan). While the bank takes out the policy, you pay the premium. Generally you can ‘capitalise’ the premium – meaning that instead of paying it upfront in one hit, you roll it into the total amount you owe, and it becomes part of your regular mortgage repayments.
This additional cost is typically required when you have less than 20 per cent savings, or a loan with an LVR of 80 per cent or higher, and it can run into thousands of dollars. The policy is not transferrable, so if you sell and buy a new house with less than 20 per cent equity, then you’ll be required to foot the bill again, even if you borrow with the same lender.
Some lenders, such as the Commonwealth Bank, charge customers with a small deposit a Low Deposit Premium or LDP instead of LMI. The cost of the premium is included in your loan so you pay it off over time.
This competition is only available to Australian residents who are over 18 and check their home loan interest rate at RateCity. However, you are not required to refinance your home loan or apply for any financial products.
You can still enter if you don’t have a home loan yet – enter how much you plan to borrow and the details of the property you’re considering, and we’ll compare mortgage offers that may suit your needs and estimate how much you could save compared to a loan with an average interest rate.
The home loan market is complex. With almost 4,000 different loans on offer, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to work out which loans work for you.
That’s where Real Time RatingsTM can help. Our system automatically filters out loans that don’t fit your requirements and ranks the remaining loans based on your individual loan requirements and preferences.
Best of all, the ratings are calculated in real time so you know you’re getting the most current information.
Work out your mortgage repayments using a home loan calculator that takes into account your deposit size, property value and interest rate. This is divided by the loan term you choose (for example, there are 360 months in a 30-year mortgage) to determine the monthly repayments over this time frame.
Over the course of your loan, your monthly repayment amount will be affected by changes to your interest rate, plus any circumstances where you opt to pay interest-only for a period of time, instead of principal and interest.
To work out how much you could save, we run the home loan details you’ve provided through our database, and search for similar home loan options that we think would be suitable for you.
We then calculate the costs of these loan options over 15 years (to keep our calculations consistent) and compare them to the cost calculations for your current home loan.
We work closely with lenders to get updates as quick as possible, with updates made the same day wherever possible.
If your entry is selected as our winner, we’ll notify you in writing within two business days of the draw. Your name will also be published online on the RateCity from 22/05/2020.
We use your current mortgage details to calculate the potential savings if you were to change lenders, and also to help us point you to loans that may meet your needs.
For example – if you live in the house you own, we’ll make sure we show you the owner-occupier rates, which are typically cheaper than investor rates. Or if you have less than 20% equity in your property, then we won’t show you the deals that require a greater amount of equity.
You can only enter the draw for the chance to win $1 million once. However, you can get additional entries by inviting your friends to check their own home loan rates.
When you complete your initial entry, you’ll receive a unique URL that you can send to your friends. For each friend that checks their home loan rates using this URL, you’ll receive one additional entry into the draw.
The mortgage market changes constantly. Every week, new products get launched and existing products get tweaked. Yet many ratings and awards systems rank products annually or biannually.
We update our product data as soon as possible when lenders make changes, so if a bank hikes its interest rates or changes its product, the system will quickly re-evaluate it.
Nobody wants to read a weather forecast that is six months old, and the same is true for home loan comparisons.
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.