Looking to use your home equity to refinance?

Looking to use your home equity to refinance?

Whatever your reason for thinking about refinancing your home loan, your ability to do so will depend on a variety of factors, with your amount of available equity being one of the most important.

What is equity, and how much do you have?

Equity is essentially the difference between the current value of your property and the amount you owe on your mortgage principal. To put it another way, the equity in your home is how much of your property that you own for yourself, and not your mortgage lender.

You can find your level of equity using the following basic formula:

Equity = property value – amount owing on your mortgage principal

Keep in mind that your property value isn’t just the price you paid when you bought the place – it also includes any capital gains from making improvements to the property, or from increased demand in your local area.

Example:

Jacob buys a property worth $500,000, paying a 20% deposit of $100,000 and borrowing $400,000 in a home loan. Over the following years, he pays back another $100,000 onto the loan principal, leaving $300,000 owing. Meanwhile, Jacob’s improvements to his property and the increasing popularity of his local area leads to his property’s estimated market value rising by $100,000 to $600,000.

To work out his current level of equity, Jacob subtracts the amount owing on his mortgage ($300,000) from the current market value of his property ($600,000). Jacob has $300,000 in equity available to use when refinancing.

How can you use your equity to refinance?

There are a few ways that your equity can be used, depending on your refinancing goal. Generally, your equity will play a similar role to that of your deposit when you first took out your home loan – providing security and reducing the lender’s financial risk.

If you’re refinancing your existing loan to lower your interest rate, whether so you can enjoy more affordable mortgage repayments, or so you can pay back your loan’s principal more quickly, the more equity you have available in your mortgage, the more security you’ll offer your lender, and the lower an interest rate you’re likely to receive. You may also qualify for loans with access to useful features such as offset accounts and redraw facilities, which can provide further flexibility and options for managing your finances.

Example:

Jacob considers refinancing his home loan by switching to another lender with a lower interest rate. Because he has more than $120,000 in equity available (the minimum 20% deposit required to avoid paying Lender’s Mortgage Insurance), he qualifies for one of his new lender’s low-interest loans with an offset account and a redraw facility, so he can enjoy greater flexibility from his personal finances.

Home loans for refinancing:

 

If you’re refinancing in order to borrow more money, such as when you want to upgrade to a bigger house, the equity in your current home loan can serve as the deposit on a new home loan, with all of the same requirements.

Keep in mind that a new home loan comes with new fees, charges and expenses such as stamp duty, which often average to around 5% of the purchase price. Take this into account when estimating what you may be able to afford. 

Example:

Jacob considers selling his current place and buying a new one in a better area, which will require refinancing his mortgage and borrowing more money.

With $300,000 in equity available, and assuming that his new loan will require a minimum 20% deposit to avoid Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI), Jacob could theoretically buy a place worth up to $1.5 million… assuming he can afford the repayments and the costs of refinancing!

To hopefully keep his finances more manageable, Jacob instead looks at homes worth up to $1.2 million, using $240,000 of his equity as a deposit and keeping the remaining $60,000 available to cover the other costs.

It’s also possible to keep your current home loan and property, and to use your equity to fund the purchase an investment property. However, in this case, you likely won’t be able to put all of the equity in your current loan towards taking out a new one – many lenders require you to maintain a minimum Loan to Value Ratio (LVR) in your mortgage to help limit the financial risk involved. You’ll need to take LVR into consideration when determining the amount of usable equity in your home.

Example:

Another option for Jacob is to use the equity in his home to take out a second mortgage to purchase an investment property. Because Jacob’s lender requires that he maintains a minimum LVR of 80%, his property value for determining his usable equity effectively becomes $480,000 ($600,000 – 20%). This in turn means that Jacob’s usable equity is only $180,000, rather than the original $300,000 figure.

Assuming Jacob’s second mortgage requires a 20% deposit to avoid LMI, he could potentially buy an investment property valued at up to $900,000, but it may be more affordable to look at $720,000 properties, using $144,000 as the deposit and keeping $36,000 to cover the other expenses involved.

Another option is to take out a home equity loan, also known as a line of credit, where you borrow money from your lender using the equity in your home loan as collateral. This line of credit could be used to finance a home renovation, to buy a new car, or to pay for a dream holiday.

Much like the previous investment property example, you may be limited on how much you can borrow in a home equity loan, as your lender may require you to keep a certain percentage of your home’s value invested in the property in order to secure the mortgage.

Example:

Another option for Jacob is to use his equity to pay for that big round-the-world trip he’s always wanted to go on. As previously determined, he has $300,000 of equity in his home loan, but only $180,000 of this is usable equity.

By approaching his lender and organising a home equity line of credit, Jacob can set off on his trip, armed with what is effectively a credit card with a $180,000 limit. 

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Learn more about home loans

Is a home equity loan secured or unsecured?

Home equity is the difference between its current market price and the outstanding balance on the mortgage loan. The amount you can borrow against the equity in your property is known as a home equity loan.

A home equity loan is secured against your property. It means the lender can recoup your property if you default on the repayments. A secured home equity loan is available at a competitive rate of interest and may be repaid over the long-term. Although a home equity loan is secured, lenders will assess your income, expenses, and other liabilities before approving your application. You’ll also want  a good credit score to qualify for a home equity loan. 

What is equity? How can I use equity in my home loan?

Equity refers to the difference between what your property is worth and how much you owe on it. Essentially, it is the amount you have repaid on your home loan to date, although if your property has gone up in value it can sometimes be a lot more.

You can use the equity in your home loan to finance renovations on your existing property or as a deposit on an investment property. It can also be accessed for other investment opportunities or smaller purchases, such as a car or holiday, using a redraw facility.

Once you are over 65 you can even use the equity in your home loan as a source of income by taking out a reverse mortgage. This will let you access the equity in your loan in the form of regular payments which will be paid back to the bank following your death by selling your property. But like all financial products, it’s best to seek professional advice before you sign on the dotted line.

What is a line of credit?

A line of credit, also known as a home equity loan, is a type of mortgage that allows you to borrow money using the equity in your property.

Equity is the value of your property, less any outstanding debt against it. For example, if you have a $500,000 property and a $300,000 mortgage against the property, then you have $200,000 equity. This is the portion of the property that you actually own.

This type of loan is a flexible mortgage that allows you to draw on funds when you need them, similar to a credit card.

What is equity and home equity?

The percentage of a property effectively ‘owned’ by the borrower, equity is calculated by subtracting the amount currently owing on a mortgage from the property’s current value. As you pay back your mortgage’s principal, your home equity increases. Equity can be affected by changes in market value or improvements to your property.

How to use the ME Bank reverse mortgage calculator?

You can access the equity in your home to help you fund your needs during your senior years. A ME Bank reverse mortgage allows you to tap into the equity you’ve built up in your home while you continue living in your house. You can also use the funds to pay for your move to a retirement home and repay the loan when you sell the property.

Generally, if you’re 60 years old, you can borrow up to 15 per cent of the property value. If you are older than 75 years, the amount you can access increases to up to 30 per cent. You can use a reverse mortgage calculator to know how much you can borrow.

To take out a ME Bank reverse mortgage, you’ll need to provide information like your age, type of property – house or an apartment, postcode, and the estimated market value of the property. The loan to value ratio (LVR) is calculated based on your age and the property’s value.

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 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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.

Can I get a NAB first home loan?

The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme of NAB helps first home buyers purchase a property sooner by reducing the upfront costs required. This scheme is offered based on a Government-backed initiative, with10,000 available places announced in October 2020.

Suppose your application for the NAB first home buyer loan is successful. In that case, you’ll only need to pay a low deposit, between 5 and 20 per cent of the property value and won’t be asked to pay lender's mortgage insurance (LMI). You’ll also receive a limited guarantee from the Australian government to purchase the property.

If you’re applying for the NAB first home buyer home loan as an individual, you need to have earned less than $125,000 in the last financial year. Couples applying for the NAB first home loan need to have earned less than $200,000 to be eligible. To be considered a couple, you need to be married or in a de facto relationship. A parent and child, siblings or friends are not considered a couple when applying for a NAB first home loan.

The NAB First Home Loan Deposit Scheme is currently offered only to purchase a brand new property, rather than an established property.

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).