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Australians are feeling confident about spending as the economy bounces back

Australians are feeling confident about spending as the economy bounces back

Big bank economists are observing a rebound in people’s willingness to spend on items big and small, after the public stockpiled their savings for months in response to the uncertainty of a once in a century pandemic.

Senior economists at Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ have observed a sharp rebound in consumer confidence after it was revealed the federal government’s budget will rack up a large deficit in an effort to stimulate an economic recovery.

Consumer confidence lifted by 11.9 per cent to 105.0 in October, according to the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment, a telephone survey of 1200 adults across Australia.

“This is an extraordinary result,” Bill Evans said, chief economist at Westpac.

“The Index has now lifted by 32 per cent over the last two months to the highest level since July 2018. (It) is now 10% above the average level in the six months prior to the pandemic.”

The growing confidence was owed to a few reasons, he said. These include the containment of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal budget drafted in response, and an expectation further financial relief is on the way from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

The trend was echoed in the ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence report, which found consumer confidence has rebounded 49.6 per cent since hitting an almost 50 year low of 65.3 in March.

Feeling good about buying a house

People are feeling more confident about their family finances, securing employment and the economy, the Westpac survey found, but it observed another interesting insight: the time for many to buy a house is now.

The ‘time to buy a dwelling index’ jumped by 10.6 per cent in October to 122.2, reaching its highest level since September 2019.

“Of all the results in this … survey, this one is the most surprising and reassuring,” Mr Evans said. “Confidence in the housing market has boomed.”

The sentiment comes as a bit of a surprise given nearly a million people lost their jobs about six months ago, stimulus payments are on schedule to be wound down, and the pandemic remains ongoing. 

But economists claim the challenges posed have been met with proportionate responses, such as a stimulatory budget and historically low mortgage interest rates, combined with five months of falling property prices

Optimism for buying a property in NSW increased by 11.3 per cent, followed by rises in Victoria of 7 per cent and Queensland of 4.4 per cent. 

“The levels of the index in each of these eastern states are comparable, indicating a high degree of expectation that the Victorian market is set to reopen,” Mr Evans said.

Backing the growing sentiment is a solid increase in the value of owner occupier loans being issued. The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed $16.3 billion in loans for 12,302 properties were approved in August, a rise of 13.6 per cent -- the largest increase since records were established 18 years ago.

Expecting interest rates to fall next month

The RBA dropped the cash rate to 0.25 in March, its lowest level in 30 years. 

But now there’s an increasing expectation the rate will reach an extraordinary new low with an atypical cut when the board meets next on 3 November.

“One of the likely factors behind the surge in sentiment this month is an expectation that the Board is set to cut the overnight cash rate from 0.25% to 0.10%,” Mr Evans said. 

“Communication from the Bank over the last few weeks points to this outcome.”

The extraordinary cut will help the nation’s central bank meet its targets for employment and inflation, he said. 

“Recently, we have detected a change in attitude indicating more confidence that the plumbing of the financial system can operate effectively at an even lower set of policy rates,” Mr Evans said. 

“With that in mind … there seems to be no reason for the (RBA) Board to delay its decision.”

From saving to spend, spend, spend

The federal government’s budget may blow out the deficit to $213.7 billion, but it appears the spending spree has left people feeling optimistic about the economy.

Outlook over the next year jumped by 24 per cent in October, while the five year economic forecast increased by 14 per cent. 

“The surge in the five year outlook has taken this sub-index to its highest level since August 2010,” Mr Evans said. 

“Respondents are likely to be seeing the Budget as setting a foundation for a sustained lift in Australia’s economic fortunes.”

People felt better about family finances, the survey found. About 6.2 per cent more people believed they were better off financially today than they were a year ago, and about 9.4 per cent believe they’re on track to be better off in five year’s time. 

One reason for this increase could be the “stunning lift” in confidence around job security. A 14.2 per cent increase was registered for October, reaching levels not seen since early 2019. 

“Despite media warnings about the looming ‘fiscal cliff’, respondents have become markedly more confident about job security,” Mr Evans said.

“In particular, those over 45 saw a 20 per cent lift in confidence – that was despite job-related measures in the Budget only providing specific support for younger employees.”

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This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Georgia Brown before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Learn more about home loans

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.

When does Commonwealth Bank charge an early exit fee?

When you take out a fixed interest home loan with the Commonwealth Bank, you’re able to lock the interest for a particular period. If the rates change during this period, your repayments remain unchanged. If you break the loan during the fixed interest period, you’ll have to pay the Commonwealth Bank home loan early exit fee and an administrative fee.

The Early Repayment Adjustment (ERA) and Administrative fees are applicable in the following instances:

  • If you switch your loan from fixed interest to variable rate
  • When you apply for a top-up home loan
  • If you repay over and above the annual threshold limit, which is $10,000 per year during the fixed interest period
  • When you prepay the entire outstanding loan balance before the end of the fixed interest duration.

The fee calculation depends on the interest rates, the amount you’ve repaid and the loan size. You can contact the lender to understand more about what you may have to pay. 

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 much debt is too much?

A home loan is considered to be too large when the monthly repayments exceed 30 per cent of your pre-tax income. Anything over this threshold is officially known as ‘mortgage stress’ – and for good reason – it can seriously affect your lifestyle and your actual stress levels.

The best way to avoid mortgage stress is by factoring in a sizeable buffer of at least 2 – 3 per cent. If this then tips you over into the mortgage stress category, then it’s likely you’re taking on too much debt.

If you’re wondering if this kind of buffer is really necessary, consider this: historically, the average interest rate is around 7 per cent, so the chances of your 30 year loan spending half of its time above this rate is entirely plausible – and that’s before you’ve even factored in any of life’s emergencies such as the loss of one income or the arrival of a new family member.

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 much deposit will I need to buy a house?

A deposit of 20 per cent or more is ideal as it’s typically the amount a lender sees as ‘safe’. Being a safe borrower is a good position to be in as you’ll have a range of lenders to pick from, with some likely to offer up a lower interest rate as a reward. Additionally, a deposit of over 20 per cent usually eliminates the need for lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI) which can add thousands to the cost of buying your home.

While you can get a loan with as little as 5 per cent deposit, it’s definitely not the most advisable way to enter the home loan market. Banks view people with low deposits as ‘high risk’ and often charge higher interest rates as a precaution. The smaller your deposit, the more you’ll also have to pay in LMI as it works on a sliding scale dependent on your deposit size.

Does Australia have no-deposit home loans?

Australia no longer has no-deposit home loans – or 100 per cent home loans as they’re also known – because they’re regarded as too risky.

However, some lenders allow some borrowers to take out mortgages with a 5 per cent deposit.

Another option is to source a deposit from elsewhere – either by using a parental guarantee or by drawing out equity from another property.

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.

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 long can you fix a home loan rate for?

Most lenders should let you fix your interest rate for anywhere between one and five years. While rare, a few lenders may offer fixed rate terms for as long as 10 years.

Fixing your home loan interest rate for a longer term can keep your budgeting fairly straightforward, as you shouldn't have to factor in changes to your mortgage repayments if variable rates change, such as when the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) changes its rates at its monthly meeting. Additionally, if variable rates rise during your fixed rate term, you can continue to pay the lower fixed rate until the fixed term ends, potentially saving you some money.

Of course, a longer fixed term also means a longer length of time where you may have less flexibility in your home loan repayments. It’s also a longer period where you won’t be able to refinance your mortgage without paying break fees. If variable rates were to fall during this period, you may also be stuck paying a higher fixed rate for a longer period.

Can you borrow the deposit for a home loan?

Most lenders will want the majority of your home loan deposit to be made up of ‘genuine savings’ which is income earned from your job. While a small number of lenders may let you use a personal loan or a credit card to help cover the cost of your deposit, this may potentially cost you more in interest, and put your finances at higher risk.

If you haven’t saved a full deposit, it may be possible to effectively borrow the deposit for a mortgage with the help of a guarantor. This is usually a parent of other family member who guarantees your mortgage with the equity in their own property.

It may also be possible to borrow the money for a home loan deposit from a family member (e.g. the Bank of Mum & Dad) or a friend, provided you draw up a formal legal agreement to pay this money back, showing your mortgage lender that you’re taking responsibility.

How fast can you get a home equity loan?

Completing an application for a home equity loan may only take 20 to 30 minutes. It may take a lender anywhere from a day to a few weeks to process and approve your application. This may be affected by your financial situation, your level of equity, and whether or not your lender needs to organise an in-persona valuation of the property.

 Before you can apply for a home equity loan, you’ll need to build up some equity in your property. The more money you can put towards extra repayments to reduce your home loan principal, the faster you can increase your equity. Also, if property values in your area increase, this may help deliver an instant equity increase once your property has been valued.

Can I get pre-approval for a home loan from BCU?

BCU offers home loan applicants a pre-approval that is valid for up to three months. To get the pre-approval, you’ll first need to provide information about your homebuying budget and whether you intend to occupy the home, through an online application form. 

A specialist will then discuss your application with you and confirm that you’ve submitted all necessary documents. 

If you meet BCU’s criteria, you could get the conditional approval within 2-3 days of this discussion. 

Remember to get written confirmation of the pre-approval. You can then go back to the bank once you’ve selected the home you want to buy to get the final approval. 

Does UBank offer home loan pre-approvals?

If you’re applying for a home loan with UBank, you can first get an approval in principle. You’ll need to provide information about your job and earnings, your household expenses, the assets you own and the debts you owe. 

UBank will assign a home loan specialist to discuss these details over a phone call, which can take about 30 minutes. 

The bank will then confirm if you’ve received in-principle approval for your home loan. Depending on how you submit your documents, this could take a few days or a few weeks. If successful, the approval will be valid for 60 days. 

How do you calculate how much you could save with a lower rate?

To work out how much you could save, we run the home loan details you’ve provided through our database, and search for similar home loan options that we think would be suitable for you.

We then calculate the costs of these loan options over 15 years (to keep our calculations consistent) and compare them to the cost calculations for your current home loan.

What happens if I don’t know my monthly repayments?

Your repayments should appear on your bank statements or your internet banking. If you make weekly or fortnightly repayments, make sure you convert them to monthly calculations.

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 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.

Should I apply for a NAB home loan pre-approval?

Buying a new home is an exciting event in anybody’s life. Getting pre-approval means you know what you can afford so you don’t waste time looking at properties outside your budget. With a NAB Bank home loan pre-approval, you can look for your new home with confidence. The lender knows you’re serious about the purchase and also exhibits a willingness to lend you money.

Applying for a NAB home loan pre-approval is relatively straightforward. You might be asked to provide proof of employment and income, details of any savings as well as any on-going debts. NAB may also conduct a credit check on you to see if you’d be a risky borrower. If NAB offers you pre-approval after these checks, you’ll know how much money they’re willing to lend you. The NAB Bank home loan pre-approval is valid for 90 days from application, so don’t apply too early and be aware of this when looking for a property. If your pre-approval expires before you find a property you’ll need to reapply.

You can apply online for NAB home loan pre-approval, visit your nearest NAB branch, call on 13 79 79, or set up an appointment. If you choose to book an appointment, it can be done in person, via video, over a call or you can have a NAB Bank representative visit you.