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Learn more about home loans

What is a low-doc home loan?

Low-doc home loans get their name from requiring low documentation compared to other home loans. In other words, you can apply for a low documentation loan without providing the same kind of paperwork as a more traditional full-doc loan. Because you often use alternative paperwork to apply for these loans, they are sometimes also known as alt-doc loans.

For borrowers who are self-employed, those who freelance or own their own small business, getting access to payslips, PAYG payment summaries and group certificates can be challenging. The lack of traditional documentation can make applying for a standard home loan a little trickier. That’s where a low-doc home loan comes in, giving non-traditional borrowers access to home loans minus the usual documentation.

Until low-doc home loans came along, getting access to a mortgage was difficult for non-traditional borrowers. What low-doc loans do is provide self-employed, freelancers and small business owners with the ability to provide different kinds of proof of income documentation when applying for a home loan.

Who are low-doc home loans for?

Low-doc home loans are generally designed for self-employed borrowers who have the deposit and income to be able to pay off a mortgage but may not have all the standard documentation to prove it.

This may include:

  • Self-employed
  • Small business owners
  • Freelancers
  • Sole traders
  • Contract workers
  • Seasonal workers
  • Casual workers
  • Professional investors
  • People with bad credit
  • Recent arrivals to Australia

With the number of self-employed borrowers on the rise, the increasing demand for low-doc home loans means there are a lot more options available for non-traditional borrowers. With low-doc home loans now available from all sorts of lenders, it’s important to compare your options and find the best low-doc home loan for you.

Does low-doc automatically mean high rate?

As self-employed borrowers generally don’t look as solid on paper as more traditional employees with pay slips, banks and lenders offering low-doc home loans will often insist borrowers pay a larger deposit, and some low-doc home loans may have higher interest rates than traditional financial products. Having an excellent credit history can also help to maximise your available options.

What do I need to apply for a low-doc home loan?

While each low-doc home loan lender will have their own rules and conditions, some of the documents that self-employed borrowers may have to provide include: 

  • A signed Borrower’s Income Declaration stating your usual income;
  • a registered business name;
  • evidence of Australian Business Number (ABN) registration;
  • evidence of GST registration;
  • personal tax returns;
  • business activity statements (BAS);
  • profit and loss statements;
  • business bank statements; 
  • other relevant financial statements, and/or;
  • an accountant’s letter verifying their financial position.

Can I refinance with a low doc home loan?

Refinancing with a low doc home loan is possible, though the process may be more complex than refinancing a full doc loan loan.

Much like applying for a low doc home loan, the lender you’re refinancing with will likely want to see some proof of income to confirm that you can afford the mortgage repayments. They may also pay close attention to your credit history, and may prefer that you hold more equity in your property compared to your loan amount, giving you a lower loan to value ratio (LVR).

How to compare low-doc home loans

Low-doc home loans have come a long way in recent years. With many options on the market, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all low-doc home loan. Some lenders may offer specific low-doc home loans, while others may offer a low-doc version of a regular home loan. With so many options on the market, it can be hard to know how to compare low-doc home loans. Here’s what to look out for when comparing low-doc home loans.

Interest rate

Start by looking at the interest rate. Depending on the low-doc home loan, you may have the option of choosing either fixed or variable interest rates. 

A fixed-rate option will allow you to set the interest rate for a period giving you the certainty of making set repayments for a fixed term. However, you may not be able to easily refinance your loan during this time without incurring break costs. 

Your other option is to pick the variable rate and wear the risk that rates may rise, which will make your repayments more expensive.

Some low-doc home loans also offer a split rate option which lets you split part of your loan between both a fixed and a variable interest rate.

It's also important to consider the loan's comparison rate, which combines the cost of interest with standard fees and charges into a single percentage figure. This can allow you to quickly compare the overall cost of different home loans. 

Loan type

When you apply for a home loan, you’ll need to pay back both the principal amount you borrow and the interest. Some low-doc loans may offer an interest-only option, which lets you pay back the minimum amount of interest and not the principle for a fixed period.

Loan features

When comparing low-doc home loans, it’s important to look beyond the interest rate. The interest rate is an important factor to consider and compare, but there are many other aspects to weigh up.

Extra repayments

You might want a loan that allows you to make extra repayments. If you’re self-employed or freelancing, there may be periods of time when you’re earning more. In those periods, you may want to use the extra cash to pay down your home loan. A loan that allows you to make additional repayments will let you pay extra into your home loan which will ultimately reduce the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan. Bear in mind that some loans that offer this feature may charge a small fee for it.

Redraw facility

If your cash flow is unstable or varies throughout the year, a loan which offers a redraw feature may help buffer any ebbs and flows. A redraw facility allows you to withdraw any additional repayments you’ve made into your home loan. While the money is there to be redrawn, remember that you’ll still have to pay it back and it may push your repayment amounts up. As low-doc home loans generally tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards and personal loans, it can make more financial sense to use the redraw facility than applying for a personal loan.

Offset account

If you’ve got savings or any extra cash sitting in a savings account, you might want a low-doc home loan with an offset account. An offset account that’s attached to your home loan may help save you interest and potentially shave years off your loan. For example, if you’ve got a $500,000 home loan and a balance of $40,000 in an offset account, you’ll only be charged interest on the balance of $460,000. The amount in your offset account is offset against the loan balance, potentially saving you interest and money over the life of the loan.

Generally speaking, offset accounts are usually only available with variable interest rate low-doc home loans, so before you apply, do your research to find a loan that suits your needs.

Other features to consider

Given that low-doc home loans are generally riskier from a lender’s perspective, the bank or credit provider may require a bigger deposit than a full-doc home loan. When you’re comparing low-doc home loans, look out for the loan-to-value ratio (LVR) percentages. As a general rule, loans that have a LVR of over 80 per cent are required to pay lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI). To avoid any extra charges, take note of the LVR and deposit requirements.

Other low-doc home loan features to look out for include loan portability which lets you take your low-doc home loan with you when you move, instead of refinancing

Depending on your cash flow, you may be able to find a loan that lets you change your repayments from monthly to weekly or fortnightly.

How do I apply for a low-doc home loan in Australia?

Once you’ve compared your low-doc home loan options, found a loan that suits you, and checked that you meet the eligibility requirements, you will need to gather your documentation before you apply. While each lender has their own home loan application process, they may generally require some or all of the following documentation:

  • Proof of identification
  • Proof you’ve been working in the same industry for at least 12 months
  • A registered business name and an ABN
  • At least 12 months of lodged business activity statements (BAS statements)
  • Proof of registration of GST
  • Personal and business bank statementsAn income declaration from your accountant

Can a mortgage broker help me apply for a low doc home loan?

If you're not sure whether a low doc home loan will be the best option for your financial situation, you may choose to seek the help of a mortgage broker. These home loan experts can look at your personal finances and help you estimate your home loan repayments based on your loan term, interest rate, property value and more. 

Brokers can also help you to compare home loan products, and even negotiate with banks and non-bank lenders to help you get a better offer. Finally, a broker can help manage your home loan application, handling the paperwork to help avoid any hold-ups in the mortgage approval process.

Frequently asked questions

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.

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 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.

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. 

How do you determine which home loan rates/products I’m shown?

When you check your home loan rate, you’ll supply some basic information about your current loan, including the amount owing on your mortgage and your current interest rate.

We’ll compare this information to the home loan options in the RateCity database and show you which home loan products you may be eligible to apply for.

 

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.

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 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 is the average length of a home loan?

Most Aussie lenders offer home loans with a 30-year term, meaning that you should pay back the full loan amount and the interest you owe on the amount in 30 years. 

However, home loans can also have a shorter or longer term. They may be as low as ten years or up to 45 years, depending on the product and lender. 

It’s worth remembering that a longer loan term usually means you’ll end up paying a lot more interest in total, but your scheduled repayments may be more manageable. In contrast, you could opt for a shorter loan term if you are comfortable making large repayments in exchange for paying less interest over the term of the loan.

Does the Home Loan Rate Promise apply to discounted interest rate offers, such as honeymoon rates?

No. Temporary discounts to home loan interest rates will expire after a limited time, so they aren’t valid for comparing home loans as part of the Home Loan Rate Promise.

However, if your home loan has been discounted from the lender’s standard rate on a permanent basis, you can check if we can find an even lower rate that could apply to you.

What are the different types of home loan interest rates?

A home loan interest rate is used to calculate how much you’ll pay the lender, usually annually, above the amount you borrow. It’s what the lenders charge you for them lending you money and will impact the total amount you’ll pay over the life of your home loan. 

Having understood what are home loan rates in general, here are the two types you usually have with a home loan:

Fixed rates

These interest rates remain constant for a specific period and are a good option if you’re a first-time buyer or if you’re looking for a fixed monthly repayment. One possible downside of a fixed rate is that it may be higher than a variable rate. Also, you don’t benefit from any lowering of interest rates in the market. On the flip side, if rates go up, your rate won’t change, possibly saving you money.

Variable rates

With variable interest rates, the lender can change them at any time. This change can be based on economic conditions or other reasons. Changes in interest rates could be beneficial if your monthly repayment decreases but can be a problem if it increases. Variable interest rates offer several other benefits often not available with fixed rate home loans like redraw and offset facilities and free extra repayments. 

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.

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. 

 

 

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.

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.

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.

How do you qualify for a CBA home loan with casual employment?

Qualifying for a home loan without a full-time job may be challenging, but it can be done. The first step is to understand how a CBA home loan is assessed when you have casual employment.

Most lenders will assess your expenses and savings while checking your loan eligibility, checking on factors crucial to home loan approval, such as if your bills are paid on time and what your credit score presently looks like. 

Your income can be one of the most critical factors to determine your final approved home loan amount. As such, you’ll need to provide payslip copies to lenders to assist them in assessing your income during the loan tenure, regardless of your employment status, full-time, part-time, or otherwise.

Casual employees will want to be casually employed for at least 12 months to be eligible for a home loan. Alternatively, you want to have worked as a permanent casual worker (working for a fixed number of hours per week) for at least one month, or you should have been in your current job for a minimum of three months (if the hours are irregular) to be eligible for the loan.

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. 

Why does Westpac charge an early termination fee for home loans?

The Westpac home loan early termination fee or break cost is applicable if you have a fixed rate home loan and repay part of or the whole outstanding amount before the fixed period ends. If you’re switching between products before the fixed period ends, you’ll pay a switching break cost and an administrative fee. 

The Westpac home loan early termination fee may not apply if you repay an amount below the prepayment threshold. The prepayment threshold is the amount Westpac allows you to repay during the fixed period outside your regular repayments.

Westpac charges this fee because when you take out a home loan, the bank borrows the funds with wholesale rates available to banks and lenders. Westpac will then work out your interest rate based on you making regular repayments for a fixed period. If you repay before this period ends, the lender may incur a loss if there is any change in the wholesale rate of interest.