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Learn more about home loans

What is a home equity loan?

A home equity loan is where you use the equity in your home as security to borrow money.

There are two main types of home equity loan:

  • Lump sum – Similar to a personal loan, car loan or mortgage, this uses your equity as security to borrow a large sum of money, which you’ll pay back with interest over time.
  • Line of credit – Similar to a credit card, this let you borrow and repay money when you need it, up to a maximum limit based on your available equity. You’ll only be charged interest on the money you’ve borrowed.

Reverse mortgages

Another type of home equity loan is the reverse mortgage. Typically, only available to retirees who own their home outright, a reverse mortgage lets you access part of the value of your home as a lump sum or as a regular income stream. This money can be repaid whenever you choose, including when you sell your home, move into aged care, or pass away.

 

How can I use a home equity loan?

Depending on your financial situation, you may be able to use your home equity to access a lump sum or a line of credit to:

  • Consolidate debts – You may be able to clear maxed-out credit cards or other outstanding loans, and often pay a lower interest rate than you would by clearing each debt separately.
  • Improve the home – Paying for renovations, extensions, repairs or other construction projects around the house can help improve your quality of life and/or increase the property’s value
  • Invest in the future – Pay for education, start a business, invest in shares… there are a lot of options that could help you build wealth and/or value in the future.  
  • Pay for goods and services – Buy a car, pay for a wedding, go on holiday… however you choose to spend your money, you may be able to enjoy a lower interest rate than many personal loans or credit cards.

What is accessible equity?

It’s important to remember that just because you have equity in your home, that doesn’t always mean all of your equity is available for you to use.

Mortgage lenders typically want you to hold at least 20 per cent of your home’s value as security on your home loan. If you owe money on more than 80 per cent of your home’s value, whether it’s through your mortgage, a home equity loan, or both, you may need to pay for a lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) policy.

To find your usable equity, you can use the following formula: 

  • (Current home value x 0.80) – outstanding mortgage = usable equity

For example, if your home is currently valued at $500,000, and you still have $300,000 to pay off on your mortgage, you have $200,000 in equity. However, 80 per cent of your home value is $400,000, so once you subtract the $300,000 you still owe on your mortgage, you’ll have $100,000 available in usable equity.

How can I grow or increase my home equity?

The simplest way to increase the equity in your home is to pay off your mortgage. The more extra repayments you can make onto your home loan principal, the more equity will become available in your property.

If you’ve been keeping up with your home loan repayments for a few years, you may find that you have more equity available in your property than you expect. This is because equity is calculated using the current value of your home – if house prices have been rising in the local area, your property may hold more value today than it did when you first applied for your mortgage.

You may also be able to increase the value of your home (and your home equity with it) by renovating the property. This could be as simple as replacing old fixtures or as complex as replacing the kitchen or bathroom, adding bedrooms, or even putting an extra storey on your house.

You may even be able to use money from a home equity loan to pay for renovations. If they help increase your home’s value, you may find you have more equity available in the future to borrow more money when you need it. Just be mindful of the risk of overcapitalising, where the cost of the renovations is higher than the potential value increase.

How else can I use home equity?

There are other options available for using your home equity. As well as accessing a lump sum or a line of credit, your equity may be able to help you refinance your home loan, or take out a second mortgage for an investment property.

The more equity you have available in your home, the more security you may be able to offer a mortgage lender when you refinance. If your property’s value has increased and you have more equity available in your home, this may allow you to refinance to a home loan with a lower interest rate or fees, or that lets you access more useful features and benefits than your current deal.

You may be able to use your usable equity as security on a second mortgage to buy an investment property. A common rule of thumb is to look for an investment property priced at four times your usable equity, so your loan can cover the cost of the property plus stamp duty and other fees and charges.   

Some property investors purchase multiple houses using this strategy, using the equity in one property as security to purchase the next, and so on. Keep in mind that this strategy can be risky – if you find yourself unable to afford one loan, you could end up losing both properties.

Consider contacting a financial adviser and/or a mortgage broker before you look at buying an investment property with your home equity.  

Frequently asked questions

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 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.

What is a line of credit?

A line of credit, also known as a home equity loan, is a type of mortgage that allows you to borrow money using the equity in your property.

Equity is the value of your property, less any outstanding debt against it. For example, if you have a $500,000 property and a $300,000 mortgage against the property, then you have $200,000 equity. This is the portion of the property that you actually own.

This type of loan is a flexible mortgage that allows you to draw on funds when you need them, similar to a credit card.

What is equity and home equity?

The percentage of a property effectively ‘owned’ by the borrower, equity is calculated by subtracting the amount currently owing on a mortgage from the property’s current value. As you pay back your mortgage’s principal, your home equity increases. Equity can be affected by changes in market value or improvements to your property.

What are extra repayments?

Additional payments to your home loan above the minimum monthly instalments, which can help to reduce the loan’s term and remaining payable interest.

How does a line of credit work?

A line of credit functions in a similar way to a credit card. You have a pre-approved borrowing limit and can draw on as little or as much of that sum as you need it, with interest paid on the outstanding balance.

Popular products include Commonwealth Bank Viridian Line of Credit, ANZ Equity Manager, Westpac Equity Access and NAB Flexiplus.

How to use the ME Bank reverse mortgage calculator?

You can access the equity in your home to help you fund your needs during your senior years. A ME Bank reverse mortgage allows you to tap into the equity you’ve built up in your home while you continue living in your house. You can also use the funds to pay for your move to a retirement home and repay the loan when you sell the property.

Generally, if you’re 60 years old, you can borrow up to 15 per cent of the property value. If you are older than 75 years, the amount you can access increases to up to 30 per cent. You can use a reverse mortgage calculator to know how much you can borrow.

To take out a ME Bank reverse mortgage, you’ll need to provide information like your age, type of property – house or an apartment, postcode, and the estimated market value of the property. The loan to value ratio (LVR) is calculated based on your age and the property’s value.

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 much can I borrow with an ING reverse mortgage?

When you apply for an ING reverse mortgage, the loan amount depends on your home’s value and your age. Generally, as you grow older, the loan-to-value ratio (LVR) increases. Usually, 60-year old homeowners can borrow up to 20 per cent of the property value. In contrast, borrowers 70 years or older can borrow up to 30 per cent of the home’s value. The maximum LVR is limited to 45 per cent giving you an additional buffer if you require money in the future.

The government regulations impose certain limits on how much you can borrow against your home’s equity. The borrowed amount can’t exceed your home’s value, and you can only borrow a certain percentage of your property’s value.

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.

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).

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.

Remaining loan term

The length of time it will take to pay off your current home loan, based on the currently-entered mortgage balance, monthly repayment and interest rate.

Cash or mortgage – which is more suitable to buy an investment property?

Deciding whether to buy an investment property with cash or a mortgage is a matter or personal choice and will often depend on your financial situation. Using cash may seem logical if you have the money in reserve and it can allow you to later use the equity in your home. However, there may be other factors to think about, such as whether there are other debts to pay down and whether it will tie up all of your spare cash. Again, it’s a personal choice and may be worth seeking personal advice.

A mortgage is a popular option for people who don’t have enough cash in the bank to pay for an investment property. Sometimes when you take out a mortgage you can offset your loan interest against the rental income you may earn. The rental income can also help to pay down the loan.

How is interest charged on a reverse mortgage from IMB Bank?

An IMB Bank reverse mortgage allows you to borrow against your home equity. You can draw down the loan amount as a lump sum, regular income stream, line of credit or a combination. The interest can either be fixed or variable. To understand the current rates, you can check the lender’s website.

No repayments are required as long as you live in the home. If you sell it or move to a senior living facility, the loan must be repaid in full. In some cases, this can also happen after you have died. Generally, the interest rates for reverse mortgages are higher than regular mortgage loans.

The interest is added to the loan amount and it is compounded. It means you’ll pay interest on the interest you accrue. Therefore, the longer you have the loan, the higher is the interest and the amount you’ll have to repay.

When do mortgage payments start after settlement?

Generally speaking, your first mortgage payment falls due one month after the settlement date. However, this may vary based on your mortgage terms. You can check the exact date by contacting your lender.

Usually your settlement agent will meet the seller’s representatives to exchange documents at an agreed place and time. The balance purchase price is paid to the seller. The lender will register a mortgage against your title and give you the funds to purchase the new home.

Once the settlement process is complete, the lender allows you to draw down the loan. The loan amount is debited from your loan account. As soon as the settlement paperwork is sorted, you can collect the keys to your new home and work your way through the moving-in checklist.

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.

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 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.

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.