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.
Australia no longer has no-deposit home loans – or 100 per cent home loans as they’re also known – because they’re regarded as too risky.
However, some lenders allow some borrowers to take out mortgages with a 5 per cent deposit.
Another option is to source a deposit from elsewhere – either by using a parental guarantee or by drawing out equity from another property.
If you want to take out a low-deposit home loan, it might be a good idea to consult a mortgage broker who can give you professional financial advice and organise the mortgage for you.
Another way to take out a low-deposit home loan is to do your own research with a comparison website like RateCity. Once you’ve identified your preferred mortgage, you can apply through RateCity or go direct to the lender.
A construction loan is loan taken out for the purpose of building or substantially renovating a residential property. Under this type of loan, the funds are released in stages when certain milestones in the construction process are reached. Once the building is complete, the loan will revert to a standard principal and interest mortgage.
The answer to this question is dependent on your personal circumstances – there is no best time for refinancing that will apply to everyone.
If you want a lower interest rate but are happy with the other aspects of your loan it may be worth calling your lender to see if you can negotiate a better deal. If you have some equity up your sleeve – at least 20 per cent – and have done your homework to see what other lenders are offering new customers, pick up the phone to your bank and negotiate. If they aren’t prepared to offer you lower rate or fees, then you’ve already done the research, so consider switching.
A split loan lets you fix a portion of your loan, and leave the remainder on a variable rate so you get a bet each way on fixed and variable rates. A split loan is a good option for someone who wants the peace of mind that regular repayments can provide but still wants to retain some of the additional features variable loans typically provide such as an offset account. Of course, with most things in life, split loans are still a trade-off. If the variable rate goes down, for example, the lower interest rates will only apply to the section that you didn’t fix.
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