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Australians readying to open their wallets and spend: Westpac

Australians readying to open their wallets and spend: Westpac

Australians are ready to spend their way out of a recession with consumer confidence soaring by almost 20 per cent in a month, research from a big four bank suggests.

The way most states are staying on top of the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired Australians to feel more confident spending money, according to the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment. 

The survey, of 1200 adults conducted over the first week of September, found consumer confidence surged by 18 per cent to 93.8, renewing people’s optimism when it comes to buying property, saving money or looking for a job.

“Consumer confidence is returning to more normal levels,” Bill Evans said, chief economist at Westpac.

“Although, the sensitivity to progress in managing the virus and the opening up of economies remains key to the outlook.”

Going back to normal: Westpac

Consumer confidence was at 79.5 in August, a low level last seen during the Global Financial Crisis. It wasn’t the increase that came as a surprise, Mr Evans said, but rather the size of it and the speed of the rebound.

“We suspected last month’s 9.5 per cent collapse in the Index was an over-reaction, but this month’s 18 per cent rebound is a pleasant surprise nonetheless,” he said. 

“... The rebound means the Index is now just 1.6 per cent below the average over the six months prior to the emergence of COVID-19 in March.”

Australia’s economy officially contracted by 7 per cent in the week the survey was conducted, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, placing it in its first recession since 1992. 

But Mr Evans said the country’s general management of the COVID-19 outbreak, where second waves have been largely avoided in NSW and Queensland, has helped people feel confident enough to spend. 

The survey cannot account for consumer sentiment in Victoria after lockdown restrictions were prolonged, Mr Evans said, however he added the wildcard wouldn’t affect the upbeat responses of people from other states.

One reason for the returning confidence had to do with the federal government’s subsidies, he said.

“The impact of the Commonwealth Government’s fiscal support measures targeting households is apparent ,” Mr Evans said. 

“Assessments of family finances are upbeat relative to a year ago whereas the economic outlook and assessment of spending conditions are still significantly weaker.”

Confidence in buying a property is slowly recovering

About 3 per cent more people believed it was a good time to buy a property at a score of 110 in September, the survey found.

This represented a lift in confidence, but it was still 6 per cent below the six-month average before COVID-19. 

“(The index) continues to point to stabilising conditions in the housing market,” Mr Evans said.

“While house price expectations remain subdued, confidence appears to be building steadily despite recent recession announcements.”

More people want their money in a bank

When it comes to putting money aside, Australians generally prefer depositing it in a bank rather than investing in shares or property, and according to the nation’s statistical body, savings are at an all time high. 

About 32.7 per cent of people preferred depositing their savings in a bank, Mr Evans said, which has crept upwards from 26.7 per cent over the year.

“The conclusion remains that Australians continue to hold extremely risk averse preferences for their savings,” he said.

The finding comes as Australians increased their savings threefold, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. 

The household savings to income ratio increased by 19.8 per cent in the quarter ending June 2020, the ABS said, an increase from 6 per cent over the previous quarter.

Job prospects are improving: Westpac

The COVID-19 pandemic led to about 932,000 jobs being lost in the first six months of 2020, according to the ABS. 

But job prospects appear to be improving, according to Westpac’s survey.

Employment sentiment rose by 14.8 per cent in September to a score of 139.2, representing a less severe dip than economists expected.

“While the general assessment of the current jobs market is still one of increasing job insecurity this measure has been telling us a more stable story,” Mr Evans said. 

“Relative to the average level of the index in the six months prior to COVID-19 the index has deteriorated by only 3.3 per cent.”

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This article was reviewed by Finance Writer Alison Cheung before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Learn more about home loans

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.

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 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 deposit do I need for a home loan from NAB?

The right deposit size to get a home loan with an Australian lender will depend on the lender’s eligibility criteria and the value of your property.

Generally, lenders look favourably on applicants who save up a 20 per cent deposit for their property This also means applicants do not have to pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). However, you may still be able to obtain a mortgage with a 10 - 15 per cent deposit.  

Keep in mind that NAB is one of the participating lenders for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, which allows eligible borrowers to buy a property with as low as a 5 per cent deposit without paying the LMI. The Federal Government guarantees up to 15 per cent of the deposit to help first-timers to become homeowners.

How much deposit do I need for a home loan from ANZ?

Like other mortgage lenders, ANZ often prefers a home loan deposit of 20 per cent or more of the property value when you’re applying for a home loan. It may be possible to get a home loan with a smaller deposit of 10 per cent or even 5 per cent, but there are a few reasons to consider saving a larger deposit if possible:

  • A larger deposit tells a lender that you’re a great saver, which could help increase the chances of your home loan application getting approved.
  • The more money you pay as a deposit, the less you’ll have to borrow in your home loan. This could mean paying off your loan sooner, and being charged less total interest.
  • If your deposit is less than 20 per cent of the property value, you might incur additional costs, such as Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI).

How can I avoid mortgage insurance?

Lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) can be avoided by having a substantial deposit saved up before you apply for a loan, usually around 20 per cent or more (or a LVR of 80 per cent or less). This amount needs to be considered genuine savings by your lender so it has to have been in your account for three months rather than a lump sum that has just been deposited.

Some lenders may even require a six months saving history so the best way to ensure you don’t end up paying LMI is to plan ahead for your home loan and save regularly.

Tip: You can use RateCity mortgage repayment calculator to calculate your LMI based on your borrowing profile

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.

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.

How to apply for ANZ home loan during maternity leave?

Qualifying for an ANZ home loan while you’re on maternity leave may require some research.

Much like other home loan applications, you'll need to be able to show the lenders that you’ll be able to pay the mortgage instalments on time, even during maternity leave, which can improve  chances of your home loan being approved. Your chances improve if you have savings, home equity, or if you receive any government-related benefits.

You’ll likely need  to provide no less than three payslips you received before the start of your maternity leave and a letter from your employer, with the letter stating the maternity leave terms such as the date on which you’ll return to work and the kind of employment (full-time, part-time, or casual) when you resume.

Your lender will likely consider the tenure of your maternity leave while assessing your loan application. Lenders also prefer if you are paid while on maternity leave; however, you may receive only half your salary, so the lender may not consider your regular income to determine the loan amount.

How long does ANZ take to approve a home loan?

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

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

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

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

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

Can I get a home loan if I owe taxes?

Owing money to the Australian Tax Office is not an ideal situation, but it doesn’t mean you cannot qualify for a home loan. Lenders will take into account your tax debt, your history of repaying the debt and your other financial circumstances, while reviewing your home loan application. 

While some banks may not look favourably upon your debt to the ATO, some non-bank lenders may be willing to help. They will look into the reasons for your tax debt and also take into account the steps you have taken to repay it before deciding whether to offer you the loan or not. Having said that, there are no guarantees - it depends on your whole financial picture.

Here are a few steps that you can take to improve your chances of getting approved for a home loan.

  • Demonstrate evidence of income.
  • Manage your debt by paying it off in installments.
  • Offer an explanation for your tax debt and a plan to pay it off.
  • Do what you can to stay out of court or attract debt collection agencies.

 

Can I get a Commonwealth Bank home loan during maternity leave?

The Commonwealth Bank considers several factors like your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities to determine whether you’re suitable for a loan. Being on maternity leave doesn’t mean you won’t get approved for a loan, provided you meet the lender’s other criteria. For example, you may have other savings or spousal income to support your application. 

Having said that, it can be slightly more difficult to get a loan while you’re on maternity leave if you’re not being paid for your time off (which is often the case, depending on how long it’s for). 

If you are looking to apply for a Commonwealth Bank home loan during maternity leave, here are some things that may help your application:

  • Get a letter from your employer including details like your date of resuming work, salary when you return to work, and other employment terms
  • Show the bank you have savings. Putting up a 20 per cent deposit may help and you could also avoid Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI)
  • Calculate your income and expenses to apply for only what you can afford to pay.
  • If you have a partner or guarantor to help with your loan, provide their financial details on your application. 

Some people like to tell the lender they are on maternity leave before applying to see whether they qualify before going through the full process. 

How does a mortgage calculator work?

A mortgage calculator is an extremely helpful tool when planning to take out a home loan and working out the costs. Although each mortgage calculator you come across may be slightly different, most will help you estimate how much your repayments will be. The calculator will often also show you the difference in repayments if you repay weekly, monthly or fortnightly. 

To calculate these figures, you’ll be asked to enter a few details. These include the amount you plan to borrow, whether you’re an owner-occupier or an investor, the proposed interest rate and the home loan term. It will also often show you the total interest you’ll be charged and the total amount you’ll repay over the life of the loan.  

Understanding how the mortgage calculator works, helps you to use it to see how different loan amounts, interest rates and terms affect your repayments. This can then help you choose a home loan that you can repay comfortably and save on interest costs. The mortgage calculator lets you compare the benefits and costs of home loans from different lenders to help you make a more informed choice. Use a mortgage calculator to help identify which home loan is most suitable for your requirements and financial situation.