Why you should compare mortgage rates when conducting a home loan health check

A home loan is the biggest financial commitment that most people will ever make. It's not just a big commitment, but a long one - generally 25 to 30 years.

That's why a home loan should never be something that you "set and forget" for two or three decades.

Instead, it should be something you review on a regular basis to ensure you're getting the best mortgage rates, the best fees and the best features for your household's unique needs.

In other words, it's time for your home loan health check.

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Advertised Rate

2.55%

Fixed - 1 year

Comparison Rate*

3.21%

Company
Adelaide Bank
Repayment

$744

monthly

Features
Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 79.9999%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied
Real Time Rating™

2.74

/ 5
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Advertised Rate

2.84%

Variable

Comparison Rate*

2.46%

Company
Athena Home Loans
Repayment

$828

monthly

Features
Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied
Real Time Rating™

1.92

/ 5
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Advertised Rate

3.39%

Variable

Comparison Rate*

3.59%

Company
Pepper
Repayment

$1,732

monthly

Features
Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 85%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied
Real Time Rating™

2.03

/ 5
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Advertised Rate

2.44%

Variable

Comparison Rate*

2.27%

Company
Homeloans.com.au
Repayment

$712

monthly

Features
Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 59.9999%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied
Real Time Rating™

3.07

/ 5
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Advertised Rate

2.27%

Variable

Comparison Rate*

2.33%

Company
Freedom Lend
Repayment

$662

monthly

Features
Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 70%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied
Real Time Rating™

3.77

/ 5
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Advertised Rate

2.27%

Variable

Comparison Rate*

2.33%

Company
Freedom Lend
Repayment

$662

monthly

Features
Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 70%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied
Real Time Rating™

3.63

/ 5
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Advertised Rate

2.54%

Variable

Comparison Rate*

2.37%

Company
Homeloans.com.au
Repayment

$741

monthly

Features
Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 79.9999%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied
Real Time Rating™

2.83

/ 5
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Advertised Rate

2.47%

Variable

Comparison Rate*

2.54%

Company
Freedom Lend
Repayment

$720

monthly

Features
Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied
Real Time Rating™

3.28

/ 5
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Advertised Rate

2.47%

Variable

Comparison Rate*

2.54%

Company
Freedom Lend
Repayment

$720

monthly

Features
Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied
Real Time Rating™

3.14

/ 5
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Advertised Rate

3.05%

Variable

Comparison Rate*

2.69%

Company
CUA
Repayment

$890

monthly

Features
Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied
Real Time Rating™

1.84

/ 5
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More details

Learn more about home loans

How do mortgage interest rates affect your home loan's health?

One reason to conduct regular home loan health checks is because a seemingly small difference in mortgage rates can make a big difference over the term of a loan.

Some people don't refinance their mortgage because they don't compare mortgage rates and realise there are lower-rate options on the market.

Other people never get around to refinancing because they keep telling themselves, "There's no rush, I'm only paying a few dollars extra per month”.

However, a small reduction in monthly repayments can add up to a saving in total costs over the life of the loan.

For example, imagine you have 20 years left on your mortgage and you manage to refinance from a home loan with an interest rate of 4.50 per cent to one at 4.00 per cent. Here’s how much you could save based on an outstanding loan of $300,000, $500,000 or $700,000:

  $300,000 $500,000  $700,000 
Total repayments at 4.50 per cent $455,508 $759,179 $1,062,851
Total repayments at 4.00 per cent $436,306 $727,176 $1,018,047
Savings $19,202 $32,003 $44,804

Hypothetical examples are for illustrative purposes only. Does not account for fees or interest rate changes over time. Source: MoneySmart

The cheapest loan isn't necessarily the best loan, but the interest rate is always an important factor when assessing the pros and cons of a mortgage.

By conducting a home loan health check, you can not only get an idea of how your home loan interest rate compares to the rest of the market, but you can also consider several alternative mortgage options.

Watch out for honeymoon rates

When you’re comparing home loan interest rates, check to see whether the lender’s low rate comes from a discount available as an introductory offer. Once this initial “honeymoon” period expires, the loan may revert to a higher interest rate, resulting in higher repayments.

Fees in your home loan health check

Conducting a home loan health check shouldn't mean just comparing mortgage interest rates. It's also important to look at home loan fees.

Many home loans come with ongoing fees, which can include:

  • monthly fees
  • annual fees
  • offset account fees 

Borrowers can also be slugged with fees for making use of some home loan features, like redrawing funds or making additional repayments.

Some lenders also get you on the way out by charging a discharge fee when you finally close the loan.

Fees can be a bit like interest rates in that paying a bit more in the short term can lead to a paying a lot more over the loan's full term. 

Imagine that you had 20 years left on your mortgage and you switched to a home loan with lower fees. Here’s how those savings can add up:

  • $100 per year = $2,000 over 20 years
  • $200 per year = $4,000 over 20 years
  • $300 per year = $6,000 over 20 years
  • $400 per year = $8,000 over 20 years
  • $500 per year = $10,000 over 20 years

Still not convinced about the benefits of a home loan health check?

Features in your home loan health check

Does your home loan offer the kind of features and benefits that could make managing your finances quicker and easier? 

A few examples include:

  • Extra repayments: Paying more than the minimum required amount onto your home loan can shrink your home loan principal, paying off your property faster and helping you save on interest charges. 
  • Redraw facility: This flexible feature gives you the option to take any extra repayments you make onto your home loan back out of your mortgage again if you need the cash. 
  • Offset account: A savings or transaction account linked to your home loan. Money saved in this account is used to “offset” your mortgage principal, so you can be charged less interest. For example, if you owe $300,000 on your mortgage, and have $20,000 saved in your offset account, you’ll be charged interest as if you only had $280,000 owing. 

Similarly, if you’re not getting a lot of use out of your current home loan’s features and benefits, refinancing to a more basic “no frills” home loan could mean enjoying a lower interest rate and/or cheaper fees. 

Home loan package deals

Some banks and mortgage lenders offer home loan bundles, which combine a home loan with a transaction account, credit card, or other financial products, and let you benefit from a discount on the lot.

How to refinance a mortgage

Once you've done a home loan health check and mortgage rate comparison, if you decide you do want to switch home loans, you'll have to refinance your mortgage.

How refinancing works: 

  1. Imagine you have a mortgage with Lender X, with an interest rate of 4.50%, outstanding debt of $300,000, and a remaining loan term of 20 years.
  2. After comparing more than 100 lenders, you decide you like the look of Lender Y, which is offering a similar home loan to Lender X, but with a mortgage interest rate of just 4.00%.
  3. If you decide to refinance, Lender Y would repay your debt to Lender X – you would owe nothing to your old lender, and instead owe $300,000 to your new lender.

However, before you sign on any dotted lines, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions, such as:

Did you check the comparison rate?

When you make a home loan comparison as part of a home loan health check, it’s important to consider the 'comparison rate', and not just the 'advertised rate'.

A home loan’s advertised rate only indicates the cost of mortgage interest, and doesn't include fees or other charges. Sometimes a home loan with a low interest rate but high fees can actually cost more over the long term than a home loan with a higher interest rate and low or no fees. 

A home loan’s comparison rate combines its interest rate with the cost of its standard fees and charges, giving you a better idea of its total overall cost. This can provide a quick and simple way to compare home loans and provide a better idea of which offers may cost more over the long term.  

With some loans, there will be no gap between the advertised and comparison rates, while others will have a significant gap of one percentage point or more.

Will you need to pay fees? And what for?

If you do refinance, you may have to pay a range of fees to both lenders. 

Your old lender may slug you with a discharge fee, and if you're exiting a fixed-rate loan ahead of schedule, you will probably have to pay break costs as well.

Your new lender will probably charge you any combination of standard set-up fees – establishment fee, valuation fee and settlement costs. All these fees could easily add up to more than $1000.

Has your property’s value fallen?

If your property is located in an area where values have fallen in recent years, refinancing could potentially cost you more money than you expect.  

For example, imagine that when you bought the property it cost you $500,000 and you borrowed $400,000. That would have given you a loan-to-value ratio (LVR) of 80% and allowed you to avoid paying Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI), which is generally only charged if you have an LVR above 80%.

Now imagine that two years later, you've decided to refinance, having reduced your debt to $385,000 – but you’ve also seen the value of your property fall to $475,000.

When Lender Y values your property as part of the refinancing process, it will discover that your LVR is now 81% and charge you LMI, which could cost you thousands.

Are you refinancing into a longer home loan?

When you refinance, you may want to check if your new loan term matches your old one. The default loan term for many mortgages is 30 years, so if you're not careful, you could accidentally exit from a mortgage that has 20 years left to run with Lender X, and sign up for a new 30-year mortgage with Lender Y.

A longer loan term means you’ll be in debt and paying interest for longer. This could end up costing you more money, even if the mortgage interest rate is lower: 

  • The total repayments for a $300,000 mortgage over 20 years at 4.50% is $455,508
  •  The total repayments for a $300,000 mortgage over 30 years at 4.00% is $515,609
  • That's a difference of over $60,000!

Hypothetical examples are for illustrative purposes only. Does not account for fees or interest rate changes over time. Source: MoneySmart.

You could save tens of thousands

Conducting regular home loan health checks is a no-brainer. Comparing home loans is quick, simple and free, plus there's no obligation to refinance.

Conducting your own home loan health check might reveal that there are alternative loans out there with mortgage rates, fees and features that could save you literally tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your loan.

If you’d like some help conducting your home loan health check, you could consider contacting a mortgage broker. These home loan experts can look at your current home loan and financial situation and make personal recommendations of mortgage offers that may better suit your goals and situation, including exclusive home loan deals that aren’t typically advertised. 

Frequently asked questions

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 an ongoing fee?

Ongoing fees are any regular payments charged by your lender in addition to the interest they apply including annual fees, monthly account keeping fees and offset fees. The average annual fee is close to $200 however there are almost 2,000 home loan products that don’t charge an annual fee at all. There’s plenty of extra costs when you’re buying a home, such as conveyancing, stamp duty, moving costs, so the more fees you can avoid on your home loan, the better. While $200 might not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, it adds up to $6,000 over the life of a 30 year loan – money which would be much better off either reinvested into your home loan or in your back pocket for the next rainy day.

Example: Anna is tossing up between two different mortgage products. Both have the same variable interest rate, but one has a monthly account keeping fee of $20. By picking the loan with no fees, and investing an extra $20 a month into her loan, Josie will end up shaving 6 months off her 30 year loan and saving over $9,000* in interest repayments.

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.

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. 

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 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).

What is a comparison rate?

The comparison rate is a more inclusive way of comparing home loans that factors in not only on the interest rate but also the majority of upfront and ongoing charges that add to the total cost of a home loan.

The rate is calculated using an industry-wide formula based on a $150,000 loan over a 25-year period and includes things like revert rates after an introductory or fixed rate period, application fees and monthly account keeping fees.

In Australia, all lenders are required by law to publish the comparison rate alongside their advertised rate so people can compare products easily.

How much are repayments on a $250K mortgage?

The exact repayment amount for a $250,000 mortgage will be determined by several factors including your deposit size, interest rate and the type of loan. It is best to use a mortgage calculator to determine your actual repayment size.

For example, the monthly repayments on a $250,000 loan with a 5 per cent interest rate over 30 years will be $1342. For a loan of $300,000 on the same rate and loan term, the monthly repayments will be $1610 and for a $500,000 loan, the monthly repayments will be $2684.

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.

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.

What is a variable home loan?

A variable rate home loan is one where the interest rate can and will change over the course of your loan. The rate is determined by your lender, not the Reserve Bank of Australia, so while the cash rate might go down, your bank may decide not to follow suit, although they do broadly follow market conditions. One of the upsides of variable rates is that they are typically more flexible than their fixed rate counterparts which means that a lot of these products will let you make extra repayments and offer features such as offset accounts.

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 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 long does Bankwest take to approve home loans?

Full approval for a home loan usually involves a property valuation, which, Bankwest suggests, can take “a week or two”. As a result, getting your home loan approved may take longer. However, you may get full approval within this time if you applied for and received conditional approval, sometimes called a pre-approval, from Bankwest before finalising the home you want to buy.  

Another way of speeding up approvals can be by completing, signing, and submitting your home loan application digitally. Essentially, you give the bank or your mortgage broker a copy of your home’s sale contract and then complete the rest of the steps online. Bankwest has claimed this cuts the approval time to less than four days, although this may only happen if your income and credit history can be verified easily, or if your home’s valuation doesn’t take time.

Can I apply for an ANZ non-resident home loan? 

You may be eligible to apply for an ANZ non-resident home loan only if you meet the following two conditions:

  1. You hold a Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa or its predecessor, the Temporary Skilled Work (subclass 457) visa.
  2. Your job is included in the Australian government’s Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List. 

However, non-resident home loan applications may need Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval in addition to meeting ANZ’s Mortgage Credit Requirements. Also, they may not be eligible for loans that require paying for Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI). As a result, you may not be able to borrow more than 80 per cent of your home’s value. However, you can apply as a co-borrower with your spouse if they are a citizen of either Australia or New Zealand, or are a permanent resident.

Interest Rate

Your current home loan interest rate. To accurately calculate how much you could save, an accurate interest figure is required. If you are not certain, check your bank statement or log into your mortgage account.

Why should I get an ING home loan pre-approval?

When you apply for an ING home loan pre-approval, you might be required to provide proof of employment and income, savings, as well as details on any on-going debts. The lender could also make a credit enquiry against your name. If you’re pre-approved, you will know how much money ING is willing to lend you. 

Please note, however, that a pre-approval is nothing more than an idea of your ability to borrow funds and is not the final approval. You should receive the home loan approval  only after finalising the property and submitting a formal loan application to the lender, ING. Additionally, a pre-approval does not stay valid indefinitely, since your financial circumstances and the home loan market could change overnight.

 

 

How can I get ANZ home loan pre-approval?

Shopping for a new home is an exciting experience and getting a pre-approval on the loan may give you the peace of mind that you are looking at properties within your budget. 

At the time of applying for the ANZ Bank home loan pre-approval, you will be required to provide proof of employment and income, along with records of your savings and debts.

An ANZ home loan pre-approval time frame is usually up to three months. However, being pre-approved doesn’t necessarily mean you will get your home loan. Other factors could lead to your home loan application being rejected, even with a prior pre-approval. Some factors include the property evaluation not meeting the bank’s criteria or a change in your financial circumstances.

You can make an application for ANZ home loan pre-approval online or call on 1800100641 Mon-Fri 8.00 am to 8.00 pm (AEST).

Savings over

Select a number of years to see how much money you can save with different home loans over time.

e.g. To see how much you could save in two years by switching mortgages,  set the slider to 2.

Can I get a NAB home loan on casual employment?

While many lenders consider casual employees as high-risk borrowers because of their fluctuating incomes, there are a few specialist lenders, such as NAB, which may provide home loans to individuals employed on a casual basis. A NAB home loan for casual employment is essentially a low doc home loan specifically designed to help casually employed individuals who may be unable to provide standard financial documents. However, since such loans are deemed high risk compared to regular home loans, you could be charged higher rates and receive lower maximum LVRs (Loan to Value Ratio, which is the loan amount you can borrow against the value of the property).

While applying for a home loan as a casual employee, you will likely be asked to demonstrate that you've been working steadily and might need to provide group certificates for the last two years. It is at the lender’s discretion to pick either of the two group certificates and consider that to be your income. If you’ve not had the same job for several years, providing proof of income could be a bit of a challenge for you. In this scenario, some lenders may rely on your year to date (YTD) income, and instead calculate your yearly income from that.