The great variable rate roller coaster
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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.
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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 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.
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.
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.
How much deposit will I need to buy a house?
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.
How much debt is too much?
A home loan is considered to be too large when the monthly repayments exceed 30 per cent of your pre-tax income. Anything over this threshold is officially known as ‘mortgage stress’ – and for good reason – it can seriously affect your lifestyle and your actual stress levels.
The best way to avoid mortgage stress is by factoring in a sizeable buffer of at least 2 – 3 per cent. If this then tips you over into the mortgage stress category, then it’s likely you’re taking on too much debt.
If you’re wondering if this kind of buffer is really necessary, consider this: historically, the average interest rate is around 7 per cent, so the chances of your 30 year loan spending half of its time above this rate is entirely plausible – and that’s before you’ve even factored in any of life’s emergencies such as the loss of one income or the arrival of a new family member.
How long should I have my mortgage for?
The standard length of a mortgage is between 25-30 years however they can be as long as 40 years and as few as one. There is a benefit to having a shorter mortgage as the faster you pay off the amount you owe, the less you’ll pay your bank in interest.
Of course, shorter mortgages will require higher monthly payments so plug the numbers into a mortgage calculator to find out how many years you can potentially shave off your budget.
For example monthly repayments on a $500,000 over 25 years with an interest rate of 5% are $2923. On the same loan with the same interest rate over 30 years repayments would be $2684 a month. At first blush, the 30 year mortgage sounds great with significantly lower monthly repayments but remember, stretching your loan out by an extra five years will see you hand over $89,396 in interest repayments to your bank.
Why do I need to enter my contact details?
We ask for your contact details so we can get in touch with you if you are eligible for a gift card from the Home Loan Rate Promise.
We may also use your information to keep you up to date on future RateCity initiatives and news, if you select this option. You can opt out at any time.
If, after checking how much you could save on a lower home loan rate, you choose to get more help from a home lender or mortgage broker, you can choose to let us pass your contact details directly on to this lender or broker so they can contact you.
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 to apply for a home loan pre-approval from St. George?
By applying for a home loan pre-approval, you can establish how much you can afford to borrow and look for houses within that pre-approved budget. Getting home loan pre-approval from St. George is a fairly simple process that can be completed within 15 minutes.
The first step in this process is completing a home loan application. Once that application is submitted, a home loan expert from St. George will contact you to understand your requirements and your current financial position. You could also directly contact a home loan expert at the bank by calling 13 33 30 or by visiting your nearest branch.
Once the application has been processed, the home loan expert will ask for some basic documentation to confirm your borrowing capacity. After this, you should be issued a home loan pre-approval, subject to certain conditions.
Based on your home loan pre-approval from St. George, you can then find a property and make an offer. Your home loan expert will arrange to have the property valued and may request for more documentation, taking your home loan application to the next step.
Why should I get a Bankwest pre-approval home loan?
A Bankwest pre-approval home loan will give you a clear idea of how much you can afford to borrow, thus ensuring you restrict your search to houses within your budget. Not only will you save time, but you can also avoid a potential financial disaster if you happen to make an offer or a down-payment on a property and then realise you can’t afford it. A Bankwest pre-approval home loan can also tell the seller that you're serious about the purchase.
At the time of applying for a Bankwest pre-approval home loan, you will need to provide proof of ID, evidence of employment and regular income, details on your expenses, as well as any on-going debts. The lender might make enquiries about your credit rating too. Once you’re pre-approved, you will receive intimation on how much money Bankwest is willing to lend you.
Can I salary sacrifice my home loan?
You can pay for your home loan straight from your pre-tax salary by salary sacrificing. Of course, this will depend on your employer’s policy.
Salary sacrifice for home loans is offered exclusively for owner-occupied properties, so it cannot be used for investments.
Your employer may need to pay Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT), but non-profit organisations are exempt from this tax up to a certain limit. Some organisations may charge you an administrative fee to set this up.
Keep in mind not all lenders accept salary sacrifice payments on your mortgage. Some lenders, like NAB, accept salary sacrificing for home loans.
Salary sacrificing won’t work for everyone, but in certain circumstances there are benefits to paying your home loan from your pre-tax income. These include reduced tax liability and potentially paying off your home loan quicker.
Does Westpac offer loan maternity leave options?
Having a baby or planning for one can bring about a lot of changes in your life, including to the hip pocket. You may need to re-do the budget to make sure you can afford the upcoming expenses, especially if one partner is taking parental leave to look after the little one.
Some families find it difficult to meet their home loan repayment obligations during this period. Flexible options, such as the Westpac home loan maternity leave offerings, have been put together to help reduce the pressure of repayments during parental leave.
Westpac offers a couple of choices, depending on your circumstances:
- Parental Leave Mortgage Repayment Reduction: You could get your home loan repayments reduced for up to 12 months for home loans with a term longer than a year.
- Mortgage Repayment Pause: You can pause repayments while on maternity leave, provided you’ve made additional repayments earlier.
When applying for a home loan while pregnant, Westpac has said it will recognise paid maternity leave and back-to-work salaries. All you need is a letter from your employer verifying your return-to-work date and the nature of your employment. Your partner’s income, government entitlements, savings and investments will may help your application.