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Getting a home loan in Australia can seem like a daunting prospect, whether you’re preparing to buy your first home or are an experienced investor. Even if you find a property you can afford, it’s easy to feel uncertain about whether the bank will approve your mortgage application.

To help you apply for home loans with confidence, here are our tips for getting a home loan, including what you’ll need before you apply, the steps involved in the application process, and how to increase your chances of getting a home loan approved.

What you’ll need for a home loan

Applying for a home loan in Australia can be a complex process, and different banks and lenders may have different requirements for their mortgage applications.

Some of the more common requirements from lenders include:

  • Proof of identity (drivers licence, passport or similar)
  • Proof of residence (utility bills or similar addressed correspondence)
  • Proof of employment/income (payslips, bank statements, tax records)
  • Proof of savings (bank statements)
  • Proof of current assets (other properties, stocks, cars etc.) and debts (other loans, credit cards etc.)

Other requirements may be necessary for some other types of mortgages, such as if you’re refinancing an existing loan, or if you’re applying for a home loan with the help of a guarantor.

How to get a home loan

When you’re preparing to buy your first home, it’s important to understand how the home loan application process works in Australia:

1.     Research and comparison

As well as researching to find the right property for you to live or invest in, you’ll need to look at the different home loan options from different banks and lenders to find one that suits your personal finances.

If you need help comparing your options, you can use a comparison website, or get in touch with a mortgage broker to take you through the process.

2.     Apply

Gather up the necessary information and documentation, and submit your home loan application with the lender of your choice.

Be sure to double-check all the documents so you can be confident there are no errors that could affect your home loan application.

3.     Conditional approval

If your application has been all good so far, the lender should agree to finance your property purchase, provided the valuation checks out and your documents are verified to be correct.

At this stage, you should receive a formal document from your lender listing the conditions that will need to be fulfilled before they will agree to provide you with a home loan.

Just remember that conditional approval (sometimes known as a formal pre-approval) doesn’t mean your mortgage is 100% locked in – it’s still possible for your home loan application to fall through and for you to lose your deposit – but it’s usually enough to let you bid on a property at an auction or make an offer for a private treaty sale.

Is conditional approval the same as pre-approval?

Pre-approval and conditional approval are two different stages of the home loan application process.

Pre-approval indicates that your mortgage application ticks the boxes on the lender’s approval criteria, but nothing is locked in yet.

Pre-approvals are often computer-generated quite quickly after your application is received (sometimes in less than an hour), and can be used to show that you’re serious about your property search, but aren’t a formal agreement like a conditional approval.

4.     Valuation

The lender will assess the value of the property you’re buying to confirm that it matches the amount you are borrowing, so they can be confident that if you end up defaulting on your mortgage payments, the sale of the property would let them recover their money.

Sometimes this involves a physical valuation, where an agent of the bank comes out to inspect the property in person. In other cases, an online valuation is conducted based on previous sales data and other related information.

It is possible for a mortgage application to fall through at this stage if the property’s valuation isn’t enough to secure the home loan, or if it affects your Loan to Value Ratio (LVR) to the point that you have to pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI).

5.     Unconditional approval

If your application has checked out thus far, the value of your chosen property lines up with the amount you’re borrowing, and you’ve fulfilled any of the lender’s other terms and conditions, then the lender should be ready to formally approve your mortgage application.

This is the point when the lender will send you your official mortgage documents, agreeing to lend you the money you need to buy your property. You’re almost there! 

6.     Settlement

At this stage, all that’s typically left is to take care of some paperwork and fees.

At this point, you’ll likely need the help of a conveyancer – a legal professional who can help you through the settlement process, including transferring the property title into your name, and working out what stamp duty and other taxes and fees you need to pay.

Once you’ve signed all the papers, and paid all the fees, the property is yours – congratulations!

How to be approved for a home loan

There’s no way to guarantee that your home loan application will be approved by a lender, as each application is considered individually, based on each lender’s criteria and each borrower’s personal financial situation.

That said, there are a few methods to help prepare you in buying your first home and can increase your chances of getting a home loan from a lender:

Build a good credit score

Many lenders will take your credit score into account when assessing your home loan application. Your credit score is a general indicator of your financial responsibility, and is generated based on your credit history, which is your record of borrowing and repaying money.

If you’ve successfully applied for loans or credit cards in the past, and have paid them back on time and without issues, you’re likely to have a good credit history and thus a good credit score, meaning your lender is more likely to approve your mortgage application.

But if you’ve had money troubles in the past, have been declined for a loan or have defaulted on repayments, you could have a bad credit history and a poor credit score, which could affect the success of your home loan application.

Bad credit home loans

Avoid making multiple applications

If you apply for a home loan and get rejected, you may feel tempted to immediately apply for another mortgage with a different bank.

Similarly, it may sound like a good idea to “shop around” for home loans by firing off applications with several different banks and lenders all at once to see who will approve you.

However, these behaviours could not only mean being rejected for a home loan, but they could damage your credit score, making it harder for you to borrow money in the future.

Every time you apply for a loan, the lender performs a credit check, which is recorded in your credit history. If a lender sees multiple credit enquiries over a short period, they may think that you’ve already been rejected by other lenders, meaning they’re less likely to risk lending money to you.

If you’re rejected for a home loan, it’s often worth waiting a few months before making another home loan application, helping keep your credit history and credit score relatively healthy.

Save a strong deposit

Banks use the deposit on your mortgage to help guarantee the loan. The larger your deposit, the lower the lender’s financial risk. The lower the lender’s risk, the more likely they are to offer lower interest rates, cheaper fees, or extra benefits.

Many lenders prefer an upfront deposit of at least 20% of the property’s value, though some may accept smaller deposits of 10% or even 5%. 

It’s important to remember that if your home loan deposit is smaller than 20%, you’ll have a Loan to Value Ratio (LVR) that’s higher than 80%, and your lender will likely require you to pay for Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI), which could add thousands of dollars to your mortgage’s initial costs.

Keep in mind that some lenders may require you to show evidence that you’ve saved up your deposit funds out of your regular income, thus demonstrating your financial responsibility, before they’ll approve a loan application.

How to get a home loan with no deposit

If you can’t afford a mortgage deposit, unfortunately there aren’t any no-deposit or 100% home loan options available any more.

However, you may still be able to apply for a home loan without saving a deposit if you have the help of a guarantor – a family member who can afford to use the equity in their own property to guarantee your loan, and who will assume the responsibility if you default on your repayments.

Guarantor home loans:

Maintain a steady income

Before a bank will approve a home loan application, they’ll want to be confident that you can comfortably afford the mortgage repayments, now and in the future, without ending up in financial stress. Generally, if more than one-third of your income will go towards mortgage payments, you’re considered to be in mortgage stress.

When you apply for a mortgage, you’ll need to provide evidence of your regular income (e.g. payslips, tax records) and regular household expenses (bank statements, bills) to demonstrate that you can afford the mortgage on your current budget, and that your income is stable enough to keep up with these repayments for the duration of your loan term.

If you are a contractor, freelancer or small business owner and don’t have a regular income where you receive payslips and the like, you may find it more difficult to get a typical home loan application approved by a lender. Instead, you may need to apply for a low-doc or no-doc home loan from a specialist lender.

Low doc home loans:

Can I get a home loan on a low income?

Getting a home loan with a low income can be difficult, but not impossible, as long as your income is fairly consistent and you can afford the repayments.

You can use a home loan calculator to estimate how much you can afford to borrow while still meeting your other financial commitments.

Clear your debts and cancel your credit cards

If you already owe money on personal loans or credit cards, a bank may be hesitant to lend you more money to buy a property. The more money you currently owe, the greater the risk that you could end up in financial trouble if they were to lend you more. 

When it comes to credit cards and similar flexible lines of credit, many lenders calculate your debt risk based on your maximum available credit limit, rather than what you currently owe. Even if you’ve always paid your credit card bill on time in the past, it’s possible that tomorrow you could spend up to your limit, so they assume a worst-case scenario.

To help improve your likelihood of being approved for a mortgage, consider paying off your personal loans and car loans, and cancelling the credit cards you don’t need to reduce your potential debt risk.

Make sure your application is accurate

Having a mortgage application delayed or declined due to a small error in your paperwork can be incredibly frustrating.

Before filling out your forms, consider checking with the lender and/or a mortgage broker to find out if there are any sections that need extra care or attention.

Some documents required as part of your mortgage application may need to be witnessed and signed by a Justice of the Peace or similar authority to ensure their authenticity.

Making misleading, false or fraudulent statements on your home loan application can have major legal consequences. Don’t try it.

Frequently asked questions

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 does unconditional approval from Aussie Home Loans mean for first time home buyers?

As an Aussie home loan first time home buyer, your loan application passes through multiple stages. Early in the process, you’ll receive conditional approval, which means the lender approves your loan application as long as you meet certain conditions. Some of these criteria include selling another property or repaying existing debt.

The next stage is unconditional approval which is the final decision from the lender. After considering all the relevant information, the lender is willing to offer you a certain amount to buy a specific property.

Unconditional approval is also known as formal or full approval but receiving this doesn’t mean you need to accept the money. If you choose to proceed and accept the funds, you’ll sign the loan documents to finalise the loan and receive the money. You can, at this time, clarify any doubts you have with your Aussie broker.

You’re likely to get conditional approval, sometimes called pre-approval, when you want to get clear on your budget. You’ll then apply for unconditional or formal approval once you’ve found a property and made an offer. This process will involve the lender reviewing your finances and the details of the property you wish to purchase to make sure you can repay a loan on that property.

As a first time buyer, it may help you with the purchasing process to seek pre-approval or conditional approval. This may speed up the final purchasing process and help you through the home loan process in steps rather than all at once.

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.

Do first-time home loan applicants qualify for tax benefits?

If you’re a first-time homebuyer applying for a home loan, you could qualify for some tax deductions, but only if your property is a source of income for you. For instance, if you rent out the property, you could get tax deductions on the cost of constructing or renovating it, the loss in value of depreciating assets such as furniture or electrical fixtures, and the home loan interest. 

Homeowners using their property as a residence could also get a tax deduction if a part or all of it is used for business. These deductions include tax write-offs for depreciating assets and deductions for operating expenses like utilities’ payments and service charges for phones and the internet. However, people running businesses from their residences don’t qualify for a tax deduction on the interest paid on their home loans.

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.

Where can I get all the information about an ANZ first home buyer’s loan?

As a first home buyer, you may require help and hand-holding, and as such ANZ has the buying your first home section on its website full of important information. ANZ also has a form in this section you can fill out to get a free consultation from an ANZ First Home Coach and create your own plan for buying your first home. This coach will help you understand where your current income is being spent and plan for your home loan repayments. You’ll get a clear picture of the costs involved in purchasing a property and how to budget or save for these costs. The coach will help you understand different deposit options and manage your accounts to enhance your savings.

There are three types of ANZ first home loans - Standard Variable, Fixed, and Equity Manager. The features, interest rates, and terms for each are different, and you can compare them here.

When they apply for an ANZ home loan, first home buyers can also get guidance on applying for the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG). This is a one-off government grant that may be available to you when you’re buying your first home. The eligibility criteria for FHOG differs between the different states and territories, which is why it’s helpful to have expert advice when applying.

How much is the first home buyer's grant?

The first home buyer grant amount will vary depending on what state you’re in and the value of the property that you are purchasing. In general, they start around $10,000 but it is advisable to check your eligibility for the grant as well as how much you are entitled to with your state or territory’s revenue office.

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.  

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 long does ANZ take to approve a home loan?

The process of applying for a home loan usually stays the same across all lenders. On the other hand, the time it takes for a lender to approve the home loan differs from lender to lender. When it comes to ANZ, it takes anywhere between 15 to 18 business days to approve a home loan from the day of the application to approval. This timeframe is highly dependent on the credibility and availability of your documentation. You can apply for an ANZ home loan in two ways; a Quick Start home loan application or a full online application.

If you opt for the Quick Start home loan option, you’ll need to fill out a form with basic details. During this stage, you don’t need to add any supporting information. An ANZ representative will then call you within 48 hours. The representative will help take your application forward, including assessing all relevant information, documentation and conducting a credit check.

You can also submit your entire home loan application with ANZ online by filling out a comprehensive form with all the information and documentation needed.

Once ANZ has conducted the preliminary checks, you’ll be informed of the pre-approved amount they’re willing to offer. Based on this amount, you can set a budget for your property search and make sure you stay inside your budget. Pre-approval will last for three months but can be extended by applying with ANZ if you don’t find a property. But it’s best to find a property as soon as possible as ANZ may decide to change the amount if your financial situation changes.

After you find a property and have your offer accepted, ANZ may send an assessor to the property to verify it’s value. If everything is per their terms and conditions, ANZ will finalise your home loan’s approval and release the funds.

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. 



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.

What is a home loan?

A home loan is a finance product that allows a home buyer to borrow a large sum of money from a lender for the purchase of a residential property. The home is then put up as "security" or "collateral" on the loan, giving the lender the right to repossess the property in the case that the borrower fails to repay their loan.

Once you take out a home loan, you'll need to repay the amount borrowed, plus interest, in regular instalments over a predetermined period of time.

The interest you're charged on each mortgage repayment is based on your remaining loan amount, also known as your loan principal. The rate at which interest is charged on your home loan principal is expressed as a percentage.

Different home loan products charge different interest rates and fees, and offer a range of different features to suit a variety of buyers’ needs.

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).

How can I get a home loan with bad credit?

If you want to get a home loan with bad credit, you need to convince a lender that your problems are behind you and that you will, indeed, be able to repay a mortgage.

One step you might want to take is to visit a mortgage broker who specialises in bad credit home loans (also known as ‘non-conforming home loans’ or ‘sub-prime home loans’). An experienced broker will know which lenders to approach, and how to plead your case with each of them.

Two points to bear in mind are:

  • Many home loan lenders don’t provide bad credit mortgages
  • Each lender has its own policies, and therefore favours different things

If you’d prefer to directly approach the lender yourself, you’re more likely to find success with smaller non-bank lenders that specialise in bad credit home loans (as opposed to bigger banks that prefer ‘vanilla’ mortgages). That’s because these smaller lenders are more likely to treat you as a unique individual rather than judge you according to a one-size-fits-all policy.

Lenders try to minimise their risk, so if you want to get a home loan with bad credit, you need to do everything you can to convince lenders that you’re safer than your credit history might suggest. If possible, provide paperwork that shows:

  • You have a secure job
  • You have a steady income
  • You’ve been reducing your debts
  • You’ve been increasing your savings

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.

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 get a pre-approved home loan with Aussie?

Getting Aussie home loan pre-approval means receiving conditional support from Aussie Home Loans to borrow the money you need to buy a home. 

It’s an indication of the approximate amount Aussie may offer you, subject to some terms and conditions. Keep in mind, having a pre-approved home loan does not guarantee an actual approval of your loan when it comes time to buy.

Aussie home loan pre-approval often involves speaking to one of the lender’s brokers. You can make an appointment online. You’ll often have to submit your personal details and other information about your assets, income, liabilities and expenses.  It’s worth remembering that a pre-approved loan is usually valid for a few months.

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.