Looking for your first mortgage?

Buying your first home can be a stressful experience. It's a big step, especially if you’re used to living with your parents, or renting while studying or working. Plus, getting a mortgage can seem incredibly complex at first glance.    

However, the benefits of buying property are often worth the hassle and expense of getting a mortgage, whether you’re buying a home to live in or an investment property.

Find and compare first home buyer home loans

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2.59%

Variable

2.64%

Reduce Home Loans

$1.4k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

4.45

/ 5
More details

2.89%

Variable

2.92%

Reduce Home Loans

$1.4k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

2.58

/ 5
More details

1.98%

Fixed - 1 year

2.38%

Homestar Finance

$1.3k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

3.46

/ 5
More details

2.06%

Fixed - 3 years

2.38%

Homestar Finance

$1.3k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

3.66

/ 5
More details

2.18%

Fixed - 1 year

2.58%

Homestar Finance

$1.3k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

3.15

/ 5
More details

3.02%

Variable

3.05%

Yard

$1.4k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 90%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

2.18

/ 5
More details

Learn more about home loans

What is the best first home loan?

Because everyone’s financial situation is different, the best first home loan for you may not be the best option for somebody else. It’s important to compare different home loans and look at all the options, including:

  • Interest rate: The lower the rate, the lower your mortgage payments. Some banks offer special discounted interest rates for first home buyers, but once the introductory “honeymoon” period ends, you’ll revert to a higher rate, which could put pressure on your budget.
  • Fees: May be charged annually, or when you use certain loan features.
  • Comparison rate: Combines a loan’s interest rate and standard fees and charges. This can give you a better idea of its overall cost, such as when a mortgage offers a low interest rate but charges high fees that may cost more in total.

It's also worth comparing the features and benefits of different home loans, to work out which ones may help you better manage your repayments and enjoy extra value.

Some popular home loan features and benefits include:

  • Extra repayments: Pay off your loan faster, so you’re charged less interest.
  • Redraw facility: Take extra repayments back out of your loan if you need the cash.
  • Offset account: A separate savings or transaction account linked to your home loan, included when calculating your home loan’s interest charges to help you save some money. For example, if you have a $350,000 mortgage and $10,000 in your offset account, you’ll be charged interest as if you only owed $340,000.

How much can I afford to borrow for my first home loan?

To estimate if you can afford your first home loan, you can use a mortgage repayment calculator. Try entering different borrowing amounts and loan terms, and see how the repayments would fit into your household budget.

Remember, choosing a longer home loan term means your monthly repayments will be smaller, but you’ll likely pay more interest in total, while a shorter loan term will cost more from month to month, but the loan may cost less overall.

It’s important to work out if your first home loan would likely put your finances under stress, where a change in circumstances could leave you unable to afford your repayments. If a home loan may put you into mortgage stress, a lender may decline your application.

Lenders calculate mortgage stress in different ways. One commonly-accepted benchmark is that if more than one third of your household's income would go towards home loan repayments, the loan may put you into mortgage stress. You can use our mortgage stress calculator to estimate your risk.

How much do I need to save for a deposit?

Before you can buy your first property, you’ll need to pay a percentage of its value as an upfront deposit to secure your home loan. The more you can afford to pay as a deposit, the more comfortable the lender will feel about lending you money. This may let you enjoy lower interest rates or fees, or more useful home loan features and benefits.

Most lenders prefer that you pay a home loan deposit of at least 20 per cent of the property’s value. That’s a lot of money, especially if you’re buying in an Australian capital city.  It can take years of dedicated saving to get a 20 per cent deposit together, and during this time property prices may rise higher!

What if my deposit is a gift?

Generous friends or family may offer to help you with your home loan deposit. However, many lenders will want your deposit to be made up of “genuine savings” – that is, income earned from your job – to show that you’re a financially responsible borrower.

If part or all of your deposit will be a gift, consider holding the money for 6 months or more in a savings account to demonstrate your financial discipline, or organise a plan to pay back the gifted money in the future. Contact your lender to learn more about its requirements.

Some lenders will let you apply for a home loan with a smaller deposit of 10, 5 or even 2 per cent of the property’s value. However, this means the lender will need to take out a Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI) policy to cover the risk that you’ll default on your loan. LMI protects the bank, not the borrower, and most lenders pass on the cost of LMI to you. The lower your deposit, the more the LMI may cost, which can reach tens of thousands of dollars. Our LMI Calculator can help you plan your budget in advance.

What other upfront costs are involved when buying property?

As well as budgeting for paying your first home loan’s deposit and LMI, there are other upfront costs you may need to consider:

  • Stamp duty: A state or territory government tax on the sale of land. As a first home buyer, you may qualify for an exemption or discount on stamp duty. Our stamp duty calculator can help you estimate the cost.
  • Conveyancing fees: Hiring a solicitor to manage the legal transfer of a property’s ownership.
  • Application fees: Covers the admin cost of processing your home loan application and setting up your mortgage.
  • Valuation fee: Covers the cost of confirming the value of the property you’re buying, as part of the home loan application process.

How can I get help with my first mortgage?

Finding, applying, and paying for your first home loan can sound intimidating, but you don’t have to go it alone.

You may be able to get help from the following:

Mortgage brokers

If you’re not sure which bank offers the best first home loan deal for you, you could consider getting in touch with a mortgage broker.

These home loan experts can:

  • recommend specific home loans to you, based on your financial situation;
  • negotiate with banks on your behalf to help you secure better deals, and;
  • tell you about special mortgage offers that aren’t typically advertised.

Using a mortgage broker to apply for a mortgage is usually free, as the broker is paid a commission by the bank or lender if the loan application is successful.

Guarantors

If you’re having trouble saving a home loan deposit, or if you’d like a home loan with no deposit, you may be able to get help from a guarantor. This is a close family member (usually a parent or grandparent) that uses the value of their own property to guarantee part or all of your home loan deposit. If you default on your home loan, your guarantor will become responsible for your mortgage payments.

Becoming a guarantor is a big commitment, so it’s important for everyone involved to be aware of the risks. However, once you’ve spent some time paying off your mortgage, it may be possible to refinance to a loan without a guarantor.

First home owner grants

Australia’s state and territory governments offer a range of grants, incentives, exemptions and other concessions to first home buyers who fulfil certain terms and conditions, such as purchasing newly built properties.

Check with your state or territory government to learn more about its first home owners grant:

First Home Loan Deposit Scheme

First introduced in 2020, this federal government initiative allows you to apply for a mortgage from selected lenders with a deposit of just 5 per cent, with the government guaranteeing the rest so you don’t need to pay LMI.  

Only 10,000 spots are available in the scheme each financial year, and to be eligible your income must be under the maximum threshold ($125,000 per annum for singles, or $200,000 per annum for couples).

Frequently asked questions

What are the pros and cons of no-deposit home loans?

It’s no longer possible to get a no-deposit home loan in Australia. In some circumstances, you might be able to take out a mortgage with a 5 per cent deposit – but before you do so, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons.

The big advantage of borrowing 95 per cent (also known as a 95 per cent home loan) is that you get to buy your property sooner. That may be particularly important if you plan to purchase in a rising market, where prices are increasing faster than you can accumulate savings.

But 95 per cent home loans also have disadvantages. First, the 95 per cent home loan market is relatively small, so you’ll have fewer options to choose from. Second, you’ll probably have to pay LMI (lender’s mortgage insurance). Third, you’ll probably be charged a higher interest rate. Fourth, the more you borrow, the more you’ll ultimately have to pay in interest. Fifth, if your property declines in value, your mortgage might end up being worth more than your home.

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 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.

How do I take out a low-deposit home loan?

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.

What is a low-deposit home loan?

A low-deposit home loan is a mortgage where you need to borrow more than 80 per cent of the purchase price – in other words, your deposit is less than 20 per cent of the purchase price.

For example, if you want to buy a $500,000 property, you’ll need a low-deposit home loan if your deposit is less than $100,000 and therefore you need to borrow more than $400,000.

As a general rule, you’ll need to pay LMI (lender’s mortgage insurance) if you take out a low-deposit home loan. You can use this LMI calculator to estimate your LMI payment.

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.

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 change jobs while I am applying for a home loan?

Whether you’re a new borrower or you’re refinancing your home loan, many lenders require you to be in a permanent job with the same employer for at least 6 months before applying for a home loan. Different lenders have different requirements. 

If your work situation changes for any reason while you’re applying for a mortgage, this could reduce your chances of successfully completing the process. Contacting the lender as soon as you know your employment situation is changing may allow you to work something out. 

What if I can't pay off my guaranteed home loan?

If you can’t pay off your guaranteed home loan, your lender might chase your guarantor for the money.

A guaranteed home loan is a legally binding agreement in which the guarantor assumes overall responsibility for the mortgage. So if the borrower falls behind on their mortgage, the lender might insist that the guarantor cover the repayments. If the guarantor fails to do so, the lender might seize the guarantor’s security (which is often the family home) so it can recoup its money.

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 calculate monthly mortgage repayments?

Work out your mortgage repayments using a home loan calculator that takes into account your deposit size, property value and interest rate. This is divided by the loan term you choose (for example, there are 360 months in a 30-year mortgage) to determine the monthly repayments over this time frame.

Over the course of your loan, your monthly repayment amount will be affected by changes to your interest rate, plus any circumstances where you opt to pay interest-only for a period of time, instead of principal and interest.

What is a debt service ratio?

A method of gauging a borrower’s home loan serviceability (ability to afford home loan repayments), the debt service ratio (DSR) is the fraction of an applicant’s income that will need to go towards paying back a loan. The DSR is typically expressed as a percentage, and lenders may decline loans to borrowers with too high a DSR (often over 30 per cent).

How much can I borrow with a guaranteed home loan?

Some lenders will allow you to borrow 100 per cent of the value of the property with a guaranteed home loan. For that to happen, the lender would have to feel confident in your ability to pay off the mortgage and in the security provided by your guarantor.

Do mortgage brokers need a consumer credit license?

In Australia, mortgage brokers are defined by law as being credit service or assistance providers, meaning that they help borrowers connect with lenders. Mortgage brokers may not always need a consumer credit license however if they’re operating solo they will need an Australian Credit License (ACL). Further, they may also need to comply with requirements asking them to mention their license number in full.

Some mortgage brokers can be “credit representatives”, or franchisees of a mortgage aggregator. In this case, if the aggregator has a license, the mortgage broker need not have one. The reasoning for this is that the franchise agreement usually requires mortgage brokers to comply with the laws applicable to the aggregator. If you’re speaking to a mortgage broker, you can ask them if they receive commissions from lenders, which is a good indicator that they need to be licensed. Consider requesting their license details if they don’t give you the details beforehand. 

You should remember that such a license protects you if you’re given incorrect or misleading advice that results in a home loan application rejection or any financial loss. Brokers are regulated by the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC), as per the National Consumer Credit Protection (NCCP) Act. 

How to break up with your mortgage broker

If you find a mortgage broker giving you generic advice or trying to sell you a competitive offer from an unsuitable lender, you might be better off  breaking up with the mortgage broker and consulting someone else. Breaking up with a mortgage broker can be done over the phone, or via email. You can also raise a complaint, either with the broker’s aggregator or with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority as necessary.

As licensed industry professionals, mortgage brokers have the responsibility of giving you accurate advice so that you know what to expect when you apply for a home loan. You may have approached the mortgage broker, for instance, because you have questions about the terms of a home loan a lender offered you. 

You should remember that mortgage brokers are obliged by law to act in your best interests and as part of complying with The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) regulations. If you feel you didn’t get the right advice from the mortgage broker, or that you lost money as a result of accepting the broker’s suggestions regarding a lender or home loan offer, you can file a complaint with the ASIC and seek compensation. 

When you first speak to a mortgage broker, consider asking them about their Lender Panel, which is the list of lenders they usually recommend and who may pay them a commission. This information can help you decide if the advice they give you has anything to do with the remuneration they may receive from one or more lenders.

What happens when you default on your mortgage?

A mortgage default occurs when you are 90 days or more behind on your mortgage repayments. Late repayments will often incur a late fee on top of the amount owed which will continue to gather interest along with the remaining principal amount.

If you do default on a mortgage repayment you should try and catch up in next month’s payment. If this isn’t possible, and missing payments is going to become a regular issue, you need to contact your lender as soon as possible to organise an alternative payment schedule and discuss further options.

You may also want to talk to a financial counsellor. 

How personalised is my rating?

Real Time Ratings produces instant scores for loan products and updates them based what you tell us about what you’re looking for in a loan. In that sense, we believe the ratings are as close as you get to personalised; the more you tell us, the more we customise to ratings to your needs. Some borrowers value flexibility, while others want the lowest cost loan. Your preferences will be reflected in the rating. 

We also take a shorter term, more realistic view of how long borrowers hold onto their loan, which gives you a better idea about the true borrowing costs. We take your loan details and calculate how much each of the relevent loans would cost you on average each month over the next five years. We assess the overall flexibility of each loan and give you an easy indication of which ones are likely to adjust to your needs over time. 

Do other comparison sites offer the same service?

Real Time RatingsTM is the only online system that ranks the home loan market based on your personal borrowing preferences. Until now, home loans have been rated based on outdated data. Our system is unique because it reacts to changes as soon as we update our database.

How does Real Time Ratings work?

Real Time RatingsTM looks at your individual home loan requirements and uses this information to rank every applicable home loan in our database out of five.

This score is based on two main factors – cost and flexibility.

Cost is calculated by looking at the interest rates and fees over the first five years of the loan.

Flexibility is based on whether a loan offers features such as an offset account, redraw facility and extra repayments.

Real Time RatingsTM also includes the following assumptions:

  • Costs are calculated on the current variable rate however they could change in the future.
  • Loans are assumed to be principal and interest
  • Fixed-rate loans with terms greater than five years are still assessed on a five-year basis, so 10-year fixed loans are assessed as being only five years’ long.
  • Break costs are not included.

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