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Learn more about home loans

Who offers the best home loan?

Finding the best home loan isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are many types of home loans to choose from, and the best home loan for one person may not be the best for the next person. Before you apply for pre-approval, it’s important to look for the home loan that's "best" for your personal financial situation, where you can fulfil the eligibility criteria and also comfortably afford the repayments. 

For example, the big four banks offer home loans with features and benefits that could suit a variety of different home owners, including branch access and other bundled financial services. Smaller online-only non-bank lenders may offer home loans with lower interest rates, resulting in more affordable monthly repayments, but these lenders may only operate online or over the phone, and only offer home loans. 

At RateCity, you can compare home loans to find some of the best options for your financial situation. You can also use RateCity's Real Time Ratings™ to compare some of the best-rated mortgage options in different categories.

How do I decide which is the best mortgage for me?

Want to know how to get a mortgage? There are several questions to consider when weighing up home loan options to find the right one for you:

  • How long a loan term will I need to take out a mortgage for?
  • What are the best home loan rates? Are they fixed or variable rates?
  • Considering my loan amount, what will my mortgage repayments be? Can I make additional repayments?
  • Are there any added fees to include in my calculations, such as upfront or application fees, annual fees or other ongoing fees?
  • Can I sustain a good lifestyle while paying off this mortgage?
  • Am I a first home buyer, or am I refinancing? Some home loans may be better suited to different types of borrowers.

Remember that while advice on the best home loans from friends and family might be useful, it shouldn't alone be the sole basis of your home loan decision. Everyone is different, which is why making your mortgage comparison to find the best home loan rates for your finances is so important.

Top mortgage factors to consider

When looking for the most suitable mortgage for your needs, here are a few of the factors to keep in mind:

Fixed or variable interest rate?

Before you start looking for the best mortgage interest rates, decide whether you're interested in a variable or fixed interest rate. Keep in mind that the best home loan rates for your finances may not necessarily be the lowest rates available.

Variable rate home loans

Most mortgages are based on a variable interest rate that will fluctuate over time, often in line with the Reserve Bank of Australia cash rate. If rates rise, so will your loan repayments, but if your bank passes on a rate cut, you could find yourself paying less interest on your home loan.

Fixed rate home loans

Some mortgages allow you to lock in a low fixed interest rate for a period of time, keeping your budgeting consistent to help you plan your future repayments. While this could see you miss out on some savings if mortgage rates were to fall, you'd also be protected from higher repayments if home loan rates were to rise.

What is the average interest rate for a home loan?

When you're comparing Australian home loan interest rates, finding a baseline average can help you better understand which home loans charge low or high interest.

Because mortgage rates change regularly, vary widely based on loan type, and aren't always available to all types of borrowers (e.g. low owner-occupier home loan rates aren't available to investors), the average of all home loan interest rates in the market rarely stays the same for very long.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) keeps track of average home loan interest rates in Australia. This can help you get a better idea of what to expect when you’re comparing different home loan offers.

Remember that there’s more to a home loan than just its interest rate. Even if a home loan has a higher than average interest rate, if it also offers features and benefits that suit your needs, it may still be a better choice than some home loans with cheaper interest rates. Compare different home loan options to learn more before you apply.

Finding the lowest interest rates

Once you've decided on which type of loan you would like, it's time to start comparing home loan interest rates to find the lowest mortgage rates in Australia. It's important to keep in mind that the lowest current mortgage rates aren't necessarily the best mortgage rates for all borrowers, as they may require borrowers to fulfil specific terms and conditions.

What is the comparison rate?

It's important to consider the fees and other charges when comparing home loans, and not just the interest rate. Sometimes a home loan with a low interest rate but high fees and charges can end up costing you more than a mortgage with a higher interest rate but low or no fees and charges. 

Comparison rates combine the cost of interest with standard fees and charges, giving you an indication of the overall cost of different home loans. It's important to consider home loans with different comparison rates when working out the best mortgage for your needs. 

How large is your home loan deposit?

Many of the lowest rates on the market are available only to borrowers who can afford a large deposit, often 20% or more of the property value. This is because the higher the deposit a borrower can afford when they apply for a new home loan, the less of a risk they represent to a lender.

Some home loans are available with smaller minimum deposits, such as 10% or even 5% of the property value, though these loans will likely require you to pay a higher interest rate, and as well as Lender's Mortgage Insurance (LMI).

Keep in mind that when you refinance a home loan, your equity in the property may be considered instead of a deposit to determine if you need to pay for LMI.

Lenders often express their deposit or equity requirements as Loan to Value Ratio (LVR), comparing the size of your mortgage to the valuation of your property. For example, a home loan product that requires a 20 per cent deposit would mean borrowing 80 per cent of the property value, for an 80 per cent LVR.

Are you an owner-occupier or an investor?

The interest rate on your home loan may also partially depend on whether you're planning to live in the property you buy as an owner-occupier, or rent it out as an investment property.

Due to the higher average risk of payment defaults, as well as government regulations, lenders generally charge higher interest rates for investment loans than they do for owner occupied home loans.

Customising your home loan search using RateCity's comparison tools can help you to compare mortgages that more closely match your circumstances, and determine which are the best home loan rates for your unique household.

Principal & interest or interest-only repayments?

When applying for a home loan, you may want to consider your repayment type. Most home loans charge principal & interest repayments, which are made up of part of your outstanding loan balance (the loan principal) plus an interest charge. 

However, some lenders will let you pay only the interest charges for a limited time. This may help to lower the cost of your home loan repayments  in the short term, though because you'll take longer to pay off your property, you may end up paying higher interest charges over the long term.

Looking at home loan fees

Another consideration when looking for the best Australian home loans is finding out what fees will be charged.

There are many different types of fees to be aware of when looking for the cheapest home loan for your needs. These can include:

  • Establishment fees
  • Settlement fees
  • Fees for using loan features such as an offset account of redraw facility, and;
  • Fees associated with making extra repayments.

Unfortunately, this doesn't cover the whole range of home loan fees out there that can be charged by different lenders, so when looking for the best mortgage for your needs, it's essential to thoroughly research potential loan options and enquire about what fees will be charged.

It is possible to find cheap home loans that charge relatively little to no fees, so don't feel obliged to pay thousands in unnecessary costs.

You can also often negotiate with a lender when refinancing or taking out a new loan to waive some of the upfront costs - if a lender wants your business, they may be willing to offer a discount to keep you happy.

For this reason, the best home loan rates for your needs may not necessarily be exactly what's advertised online, but may be arranged by contacting a lender and/or a mortgage broker.

How do I find and compare the best-rated home loans on RateCity?

Comparing home loans can seem challenging, but there are ways to make it easier. Using a comparison website like RateCity, you can compare a variety of home loan options side by side, and see which home loan interest rates, fees, features and benefits may best suit your needs. 

For a faster and simpler way to compare the top home loan on RateCity, you can start by checking their Real Time Ratings™. These star ratings are based on a combination of a loan’s overall cost (including interest and fees) and the flexibility offered by its features and other benefits. Real Time Ratings™ are updated every day, to reflect changes to interest rates and features from banks and lenders. 

To narrow down your search to just the top home loans in a category, you can check out the RateCity Home Loan Leaderboards. These collect the best-rated home loans on RateCity each day, and are updated when there are changes to the Real Time Ratings™. 

If a mortgage offer stays on the Home Loan Leaderboards for six months or more, it becomes eligible for the coveted RateCity Gold Award. If you see this gold badge on a home loan offer, you can be confident it’s one of the best-rated products in its category on RateCity.

Are the best home loans from banks or non-bank mortgage lenders?

One of the simplest ways to apply for a home loan is to visit your current bank, and find out what they can offer their customers. One advantage of getting a home loan from your bank is that they already know your details, which can help simplify the application process, and you should already have a good idea of what level of customer service they provide.  

However, your bank may not be the best bank for you to get a home loan from. They may charge higher interest rates or fees than you could comfortably afford, or may not offer the mortgage features that you’re interested in. Some of the best bank home loans may come from other banks, who offer more competitive home loan interest rates, lower fees, or features and benefits that better suit your financial situation. 

It’s often a good idea to compare home loan options from a variety of different banks and non-bank lenders before you make a loan application. Non-bank mortgage lenders can include credit unions, building societies and mutual banks. Some of these lenders offer low interest rates and low fees on their home loans in order to complete with the bigger banks. 

There are also online-only lenders and fintechs, which let you manage you money and your home loan from a smartphone app. Online-only lenders may be able to offer even lower rates and fees, as they don’t have to manage the ongoing expenses a network of offices or bank branches. Of course, this also means you wouldn’t have the option of meeting a banker in person at a branch, so consider whether this is important to you before you apply.

Frequently asked questions

Who has the best home loan?

Determining who has the ‘best’ home loan really does depend on your own personal circumstances and requirements. It may be tempting to judge a loan merely on the interest rate but there can be added value in the extras on offer, such as offset and redraw facilities, that aren’t available with all low rate loans.

To determine which loan is the best for you, think about whether you would prefer the consistency of a fixed loan or the flexibility and potential benefits of a variable loan. Then determine which features will be necessary throughout the life of your loan. Thirdly, consider how much you are willing to pay in fees for the loan you want. Once you find the perfect combination of these three elements you are on your way to determining the best loan for you. 

Which mortgage is the best for me?

The best mortgage to suit your needs will vary depending on your individual circumstances. If you want to be mortgage free as soon as possible, consider taking out a mortgage with a shorter term, such as 25 years as opposed to 30 years, and make the highest possible mortgage repayments. You might also want to consider a loan with an offset facility to help reduce costs. Investors, on the other hand, might have different objectives so the choice of loan will differ.

Whether you decide on a fixed or variable interest rate will depend on your own preference for stability in repayment amounts, and flexibility when it comes to features.

If you do not have a deposit or will not be in a financial position to make large repayments right away you may wish to consider asking a parent to be a guarantor or looking at interest only loans. Again, which one of these options suits you best is reliant on many factors and you should seek professional advice if you are unsure which mortgage will suit you best.

What is the best interest rate for a mortgage?

The fastest way to find out what the lowest interest rates on the market are is to use a comparison website.

While a low interest rate is highly preferable, it is not the only factor that will determine whether a particular loan is right for you.

Loans with low interest rates can often include hidden catches, such as high fees or a period of low rates which jumps up after the introductory period has ended.

To work out the best value for money, have a look at a loan’s comparison rate and read the fine print to get across all the fees and charges that you could be theoretically charged over the life of the loan.

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.  

What are the different types of home loan interest rates?

A home loan interest rate is used to calculate how much you’ll pay the lender, usually annually, above the amount you borrow. It’s what the lenders charge you for them lending you money and will impact the total amount you’ll pay over the life of your home loan. 

Having understood what are home loan rates in general, here are the two types you usually have with a home loan:

Fixed rates

These interest rates remain constant for a specific period and are a good option if you’re a first-time buyer or if you’re looking for a fixed monthly repayment. One possible downside of a fixed rate is that it may be higher than a variable rate. Also, you don’t benefit from any lowering of interest rates in the market. On the flip side, if rates go up, your rate won’t change, possibly saving you money.

Variable rates

With variable interest rates, the lender can change them at any time. This change can be based on economic conditions or other reasons. Changes in interest rates could be beneficial if your monthly repayment decreases but can be a problem if it increases. Variable interest rates offer several other benefits often not available with fixed rate home loans like redraw and offset facilities and free extra repayments. 

How do you determine which home loan rates/products I’m shown?

When you check your home loan rate, you’ll supply some basic information about your current loan, including the amount owing on your mortgage and your current interest rate.

We’ll compare this information to the home loan options in the RateCity database and show you which home loan products you may be eligible to apply for.


Does the Home Loan Rate Promise apply to discounted interest rate offers, such as honeymoon rates?

No. Temporary discounts to home loan interest rates will expire after a limited time, so they aren’t valid for comparing home loans as part of the Home Loan Rate Promise.

However, if your home loan has been discounted from the lender’s standard rate on a permanent basis, you can check if we can find an even lower rate that could apply to you.

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.

How do I apply for Westpac’s first home buyer loan?

If you’re a first home buyer looking to apply for a home loan with Westpac, they offer an online home loan application. They suggest the application can be completed in about 20 minutes. Based on the information you provide, Westpac will advise you the amount you can borrow and the costs associated with any possible home loan. 

You can use Westpac’s online mortgage calculators to estimate your borrowing power. You can also work out the time it might take to save up for the deposit, and the size of your home loan repayments

When applying for a home loan with Westpac, you’re assigned a home finance manager who can address your concerns and provide information. The manager will also offer guidance on any government grants you may be eligible for. 

What are the responsibilities of a mortgage broker?

Mortgage brokers act as the go-between for borrowers looking for a home loan and the lenders offering the loan. They offer personalised advice to help borrowers choose the right home loan for their needs.

In Australia, mortgage brokers are required by law to carry an Australian Credit License (ACL) if they offer credit assistance services. Which is the legal term for guidance regarding the different kinds of credit offered by lenders, including home loan mortgages. They may not need this license if they are working for an aggregator, for instance, as a franchisee. In both these situations, they need to comply with the regulations laid down by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

These regulations, which are stipulated by Australian legislation, require mortgage brokers to comply with what are called “responsible lending” and “best interest” obligations. Responsible lending obligations mean brokers have to suggest “suitable” home loans. This means loans that you can easily qualify for,  actually meet your needs, and don’t prove unnecessarily challenging for you.

Starting 1 January 2021, mortgage brokers must comply with best interest obligations in addition to responsible lending obligations. These require mortgage brokers to act in the best interest of their customers and also requires them to prioritise their customers’ interests over their own. For instance, a mortgage broker may not recommend a lender who gives them a commission if that lender’s home loan offer does not benefit that particular customer.

Can first home buyers apply for an ING home loan?

First home buyers can apply for an ING home loan, but first, they need to select the most suitable home loan product and calculate the initial deposit on their home loan. 

First-time buyers can also use ING’s online tool to estimate the amount they can borrow. ING offers home loan applicants a free property report to look up property value estimates. 

First home loan applicants struggling to understand the terms used may consider looking up ING’s first home buyer guide. Once the home buyer is ready to apply for the loan, they can complete an online application or call ING at 1800 100 258 during regular business hours.

How can I apply for a first home buyers loan with Commonwealth Bank?

Getting a home loan requires planning and research. If you are considering a home loan with the Commonwealth Bank, you can find the information you need in the buying your first home section of the bank’s website.

You can see the steps you should take before applying for the loan and use the calculators to work out how much you can borrow, what your monthly repayments would be and the upfront costs you’d likely pay.

You can also book a time with a Commonwealth first home loan specialist by calling 13 2221.

CommBank publishes a property report that may help you understand the real estate market. The bank has also created a CommBank Property App that you can use to search for property.  The link to download this app is available on the same webpage.

If you are eligible for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, CommBank will help you process your application. The scheme helps first home buyers to purchase a home with a low deposit. You can read details about this scheme here and speak with a CommBank home lending specialist to understand your options.

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 happens to my home loan when interest rates rise?

If you are on a variable rate home loan, every so often your rate will be subject to increases and decreases. Rate changes are determined by your lender, not the Reserve Bank of Australia, however often when the RBA changes the cash rate, a number of banks will follow suit, at least to some extent. You can use RateCity cash rate to check how the latest interest rate change affected your mortgage interest rate.

When your rate rises, you will be required to pay your bank more each month in mortgage repayments. Similarly, if your interest rate is cut, then your monthly repayments will decrease. Your lender will notify you of what your new repayments will be, although you can do the calculations yourself, and compare other home loan rates using our mortgage calculator.

There is no way of conclusively predicting when interest rates will go up or down on home loans so if you prefer a more stable approach consider opting for a fixed rate loan.

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.

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

Applying for pre-approval on your home loan gives you confidence in your ability to secure finance while looking at potential new homes. You can get a free and personalised pre-approval home loan from Bendigo Bank in just a few minutes, without any credit checks or paperwork. 

Bendigo Bank offers pre-approval for home loans that allow you to understand the home loan size you may be able to get before looking for a new home. 

With the pre-approval, Bendigo Bank provides an estimate of your borrowing power. This figure incorporates stamp duty, lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) and any first home buyer incentives you may be eligible for. You may also qualify for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme initiative, depending on your circumstances. 

To apply for a pre-approval on your home loan from Bendigo Bank, all you need to do is fill in a smart form. You could also contact the bank directly on 1300 236 344.

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. 

Can I get a home renovation loan with bad credit?

If you're looking for funds to pay for repairs or renovations to your home, but you have a low credit score, you need to carefully consider your options. If you already have a mortgage, a good starting point is to check whether you can redraw money from that. You could also consider applying for a new home loan. 

Before taking out a new loan, it’s good to note that lenders are likely to charge higher interest rates on home repair loans for bad credit customers. Alternatively, they may be willing to lend you a smaller amount than a standard loan. You may also face some challenges with getting your home renovation loan application approved. If you do run into trouble, you can speak to your lender and ask whether they would be willing to approve your application if you have a guarantor or co-signer. You should also explain the reasons behind your bad credit rating and the steps that you’re taking to improve it. 

Consulting a financial advisor or mortgage broker can help you understand your options and make the right choice.

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. 



What do people do with a Macquarie Bank reverse?

There are a number of ways people use a Macquarie Bank reverse mortgage. Below are some reasons borrowers tend to release their home’s equity via a reverse mortgage:

  • To top up superannuation or pension income to pay for monthly bills;
  • To consolidate and repay high-interest debt like credit cards or personal loans;
  • To fund renovations, repairs or upgrades to their home
  • To help your children or grandkids through financial difficulties. 

While there are no limitations on how you can use a Macquarie reverse mortgage loan, a reverse mortgage is not right for all borrowers. Reverse mortgages compound the interest, which means you end up paying interest on your interest. They can also affect your entitlement to things like the pension It’s important to think carefully, read up and speak with your family before you apply for a reverse mortgage.