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Why should you compare home loans

There are many reasons to compare home loans, and almost all of them benefit you in a positive way:

  • Are you missing out on home loan features or discounts because you haven't switched lenders in years?
  • Do you want some of the best home loan interest rates on the market? 

With thousands of home loans available on the Australian market, it can be difficult to work out which home loan is best for you. With a home loan comparison, you can look at the interest rates, features and benefits of several different home loans side by side and get a better idea of the value they offer before making any decisions. 

Whether you're after better rates or mortgage repayments lower than the Australian average, there are plenty of reasons to compare home loans with RateCity. 

Start your home loan comparison now

How to compare home loans

Consider beginning your home loan comparison by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How much do you want to borrow? - The more you choose to borrow for your home loan, the higher the cost of repayments.
  • How much deposit can you afford? - Home loans with lower interest rates are more likely to require higher upfront security deposits. If your deposit is less than 20% of the property's value, you may be required to pay Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI).
  • How long do you want your home loan term to be? - Many home loans have 30-year terms, though some can last for 25 years or less, or run for as long as 45 years. Generally, the longer your loan term, the less interest you’ll pay each month, but the more interest you’ll pay on the loan in total.
  • Are you buying a home as an owner-occupier or as an investor? - Investors are often charged higher home loan interest rates than owner-occupiers.
  • What features do you want in a mortgage? - The best home loan isn't always the one with the lower rate. Rather, the best home loan is the one you're happy with, and that may mean other features, such as allowing you to make extra repayments, supporting an offset account, or a redraw facility. 

Once you've worked out some of your preferences, you can start to narrow down your list of potential home loan options for your mortgage comparison.

Example: Finding a low rate investment loan

Roy is a first-time investor who wants the lowest current home loan interest rate on the market. He has a deposit of $100,000 and wants a loan of $500,000. By selecting a loan term of 30 years using RateCity’s compare home loans function, he discovers more than 1000 potential loans available  for comparison.

Roy previously asked his bank, one of the big four banks, about the cost of a home loan. During his home loan comparison, Roy discovers there are at least five lenders on RateCity that can shave up to $80 a month off what his bank offered, with interest rates below 4.2%. Over 30 years, that adds up to a significant saving of over $28,000.

Roy wants to know more about one of the loans on offer, due to its low rate and low fees. He clicks the ‘View Now’ button and is directed to the lender’s website, where he can find more information about their home loan offers, as well as the lender's contact details.

How to find the lowest home loan rates on RateCity

To see what current mortgage interest rates are available in Australia and find the lowest interest rates you're likely to be eligible for, start by following these steps:

  • Enter some basic home loan search details at RateCity, such as whether you’re an owner occupier or an investor; how much you plan to borrow compared to the property's total value, or; your preference between fixed and variable interest rates.
  • Use more search filters to further narrow down your list of home loans. The more details you can provide, the more precise your mortgage comparison search results can be.
  • Sort RateCity’s comparison table either by Advertised Rate (for interest rate only) or Comparison Rate (for the approximate cost of interest plus fees) to find the lowest available results for your home loan requirements.

Find the lowest home loan rates on RateCity

What's considered a good interest rate on a home loan?

An interest rate of 4% or lower is generally considered to be a good home loan interest rate when making a mortgage rate comparison, though it's important to remember that the mortgage with the lowest rate may not be the best home loan for your unique needs.

Some low-interest home loans are quite simple, offering fewer extra features and benefits. The lowest interest rates in Australia may not be available to every borrower, due to the specific financial requirements of different lenders. 

Australia's average home loan interest rate changes regularly, as mortgage offers are added to or removed from the market. Because every mortgage is different, you’ll need to decide what the best home loan is for your needs. 

Working out how much extra you may need to pay in interest for home loans with additional features can help you get a better idea of the value they may be able to offer your household.

What are the best home loan rates, and how do I get them?

A great home loan rate is what you'll be after regardless of whether you're a first-home buyer, purchasing something new, or investing, but the best home loan rates are constantly changing.

Instead of focusing on the best home loan rates, consider looking for the best rates as they apply to your needs. 

Everyone's needs are different, and so the best mortgage rates on RateCity might be great for someone with an excellent credit score, but unattainable for someone with a few marks here and there. This is called "borrowing power", and it can shift loan rates in positive and negative ways. 

To get a gauge on what your borrowing power is like, look into your credit score and find out whether the best rates are possible for you.

Get your credit rating checked

How to customise your home loan comparison results

When you make a  home loan comparison, you can enter your preferred mortgage features to help find an option that better suits your needs.

Firstly, think about if you want a variable rate loan or a fixed rate loan:

  • Variable rate home loans – Variable interest rates may increase or decrease during your mortgage term, often in line with changes to Australia's official cash rate, but sometimes independently, depending on your lender. If your lender passes on a rate cut, you could save money on your mortgage repayments, but if rates rise, you could find yourself paying more.
  • Fixed rate home loans  Home loan interest rates can sometimes be fixed for a limited time, often from one to five years. During this time, your mortgage repayments will stay the same, for simple and consistent budgeting. This can protect you from higher repayments if interest rates rise, but you could also miss out on savings if interest rates fall.
  • Split rate home loans - Some borrowers also choose to split their home loan interest rates between fixed and variable interest rates to lock in a bit of certainty in case of rate rises, while also making the most of low rates when they're available.

You can also choose between making principal and interest repayments or interest-only repayments on your home loan:

  • Principal and interest (P&I) repayments – These home loan payments let you gradually repay the money you've borrowed while also covering your interest charges. While P&I repayments tend to be more expensive from month to month than paying interest only, they let you make steady progress towards clearing your debt, and can help to minimise the total interest you’re charged over the loan term.
  • Interest-only (IO) repayments - Some lenders allow you to delay repaying your debt and simply pay the interest charges for a limited time (generally between one and five years). This can help make your repayments more affordable in the short term, though you may end up paying more total interest over the loan’s full term as your repayments won’t be reducing the principal amount owing.

Learn more about home loans with the RateCity guide

Select your home loan features

After you’ve chosen your preferred type of home loan, interest rate and repayments, you can compare mortgages with some popular home loan features, such as an offset account, a redraw facility, or extra repayments.

  • Offset account - An offset account allows you to reduce the interest you pay by using money in a separate, but linked account to offset what you owe. For example, if you owe $300,000 but have $50,000 in an offset account, you’ll be charged interest as if you only owed $250,000, shrinking your repayments slightly.
  • Extra repayments - Some lenders allow you to make extra mortgage repayments if you have a good month, receive a one-off windfall, or find youself able to afford higher regular repayments. This can help you clear your loan balance more quickly, and reduce the total interest you’re charged on your loan.
  • Redraw facility - A redraw facility lets you withdraw any extra home loan repayments you’ve made if you need that money back in your pocket, which can be useful for covering unexpected expenses without having to take on more debt with a credit card or personal loan.

Choose your fees

One of the benefits when you compare home loans with a financial comparison website like RateCity is that as well as looking at home loan interest rates, you can also compare fees. High fees on a home loan can negate the impact of a low interest rate, so they’re important to consider.

Some of the fees you’re likely to encounter during your mortgage comparison include:

  • Upfront fees – These are the fees the lender will charge when you start your loan. They sometimes include establishment fees, conveyancing fees, stamp duty and Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI). Upfront fees vary significantly between lenders.
  • Ongoing fees – These are the monthly or yearly fees your lender may charge for the upkeep of your loan.
  • Redraw fees – For some loans that feature a redraw facility, making a redraw may require paying a fee.
  • Discharge fees – At the conclusion of your loan, your lender may charge a termination fee to cover the administration costs.

Example: Flexibility seals the deal

Louise already has a home loan, but it doesn’t offer many benefits. She instead wants to refinance onto a loan where she can offset interest and make extra repayments once a year when she gets her tax refund. However, she doesn’t want to pay a high interest rate or high fees for those benefits.

To compare home loans, Louise enters her preferences at RateCity and finds there are a dozen loans through a home loan comparison with no ongoing fees, but many features. Even better, many of those home loans have interest rates lower than 4%, when at the moment she has a 4.5% interest rate. By switching, she stands to save more than $1600 a year.

Current Home Loan New Home Loan
Interest Rate 4.5% 4.0%
Loan Amount Owing $500,000 $500,000
Remaining Loan Term 25 years 25 years
Monthly Repayment $2779 $2639
Total Interest Paid $333,749 $297,755
Total Loan Cost $833,749 $791,755
Above examples are hypothetical and for illustrative purposes only. Calculation source: MoneySmart

Other types of home loans to compare

RateCity also allows you to compare less common types of home loans, such as low doc loans.

A low documentation loan is for borrowers who do not have the documents that are typically required to apply for a mortgage, such as:

  • Regular payslips
  • Steady employment history
  • Clean credit history

As a result, lenders often treat these customers as higher default risks, and decline their applications for standard home loans.

If you are in this position, it may be helpful to compare the low doc options on the market, as the current home loan interest rates on offer can vary significantly.

Find low documentation home loans in Australia

How home loan calculators can help

Working out what type of loan you need is just one part of the job. You also should work out how much you can borrow, what you'll be charged, and then evaluate the best home loan rate for you using all available information.

Home loan calculators offer a way to work through questions like "what is my borrowing power" and "how much stamp duty will I be charged", as well as other questions you may have about mortgage rates.

If anything, home loan calculators can help you make a better home loan comparison by doing the math for you, and working out how much money you have to buy your home.

Even if you're beyond the home buying stage and are looking to refinance, a mortgage calculator could assist in home refinancing, giving you the chance to see home loan interest rates that have the potential to improve your position.

Check out RateCity's home loan calculators

Frequently asked questions

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 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.  

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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 can I calculate interest on my home loan?

You can calculate the total interest you will pay over the life of your loan by using a mortgage calculator. The calculator will estimate your repayments based on the amount you want to borrow, the interest rate, the length of your loan, whether you are an owner-occupier or an investor and whether you plan to pay ‘principal and interest’ or ‘interest-only’.

If you are buying a new home, the calculator will also help you work out how much you’ll need to pay in stamp duty and other related costs.

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.

What is the average length of a home loan?

Most Aussie lenders offer home loans with a 30-year term, meaning that you should pay back the full loan amount and the interest you owe on the amount in 30 years. 

However, home loans can also have a shorter or longer term. They may be as low as ten years or up to 45 years, depending on the product and lender. 

It’s worth remembering that a longer loan term usually means you’ll end up paying a lot more interest in total, but your scheduled repayments may be more manageable. In contrast, you could opt for a shorter loan term if you are comfortable making large repayments in exchange for paying less interest over the term of the loan.

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 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 is the Home Loan Rate Promise?

The Home Loan Rate Promise 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 two reasons it pays to check your rate with the Home Loan Rate Promise:

  • 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 Home Loan Rate Promise*

What is a fixed home loan?

A fixed rate home loan is a loan where the interest rate is set for a certain amount of time, usually between one and 15 years. The advantage of a fixed rate is that you know exactly how much your repayments will be for the duration of the fixed term. There are some disadvantages to fixing that you need to be aware of. Some products won’t let you make extra repayments, or offer tools such as an offset account to help you reduce your interest, while others will charge a significant break fee if you decide to terminate the loan before the fixed period finishes.

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 an interest-only loan? How do I work out interest-only loan repayments?

An ‘interest-only’ loan is a loan where the borrower is only required to pay back the interest on the loan. Typically, banks will only let lenders do this for a fixed period of time – often five years – however some lenders will be happy to extend this.

Interest-only loans are popular with investors who aren’t keen on putting a lot of capital into their investment property. It is also a handy feature for people who need to reduce their mortgage repayments for a short period of time while they are travelling overseas, or taking time off to look after a new family member, for example.

While moving on to interest-only will make your monthly repayments cheaper, ultimately, you will end up paying your bank thousands of dollars extra in interest to make up for the time where you weren’t paying off the principal.

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 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.