Banks warned about housing crash

A global ratings agency has reduced its credit rating for 23 lenders due to “an increased risk of a sharp correction in property prices”.

These downgrades by S&P Global Ratings applied to smaller lenders such as AMP Bank, Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and a range of credit unions and non-bank lenders (see table below).

S&P did not change its ratings for Australia’s five largest lenders – ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac and Macquarie Bank.

The reason a housing crash is now more likely is because there has been a rise in “economic imbalances” caused by “strong growth in private sector debt and residential property prices in the past four years”, according to S&P.

If a crash did occur, lenders would probably suffer “significantly greater credit losses” than at present.

These losses would be “amplified by the Australian economy’s external weaknesses, in particular its persistent current account deficits and high level of external debt”.

Lenders should be alert but not alarmed

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S&P said that although risks have increased, the outlook for Australian banks remains “relatively benign” by global standards – partly because APRA, the banking regulator, has been acting to remove risk from the banking sector.

“We consider that recent and possible further actions by the Australian authorities should aid in an unwinding of the imbalances in an orderly fashion, as has generally been the case in the past several cycles in Australia – and may have already started in Sydney and Melbourne,” S&P said.

“This is most likely to occur through slower growth – or even a mild drop – in property prices over the next two years, without causing any significant increase in credit losses incurred by the Australian banks.”

 

Lenders with unchanged ratings

Lender Rating Outlook
ANZ AA- Negative
Commonwealth Bank AA- Negative
NAB AA- Negative
Westpac AA- Negative
Macquarie Bank A Negative

 

Lenders with changed ratings

Lender Old rating New rating
AMP Bank A+ A
Australian Central Credit Union BBB+ BBB
Auswide Bank BBB BBB-
Bank Australia BBB+ BBB
Bank of Queensland A- BBB+
Bendigo & Adelaide Bank A- BBB+
Community CPS Australia BBB+ BBB
Credit Union Australia BBB+ BBB
Defence Bank BBB+ BBB
Fisher & Paykel Finance BB BB-
G&C Mutual Bank BBB BBB-
Greater Bank BBB+ BBB
IMB BBB+ BBB
Liberty Financial BBB BBB-
ME Bank BBB+ BBB
MyState Bank BBB+ BBB
Newcastle Permanent Building Society BBB+ BBB
Police Bank BBB+ BBB
Qudos Mutual BBB BBB-
QPCU BBB BBB-
Rural Bank A- BBB+
Teachers Mutual Bank BBB+ BBB

S&P ratings range from AAA to D. Click here for an explanation of the system.

 

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Learn more about home loans

How do I know if I have to pay LMI?

Each lender has its own policies, but as a general rule you will have to pay lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI) if your loan-to-value ratio (LVR) exceeds 80 per cent. This applies whether you’re taking out a new home loan or you’re refinancing.

If you’re looking to buy a property, you can use this LMI calculator to work out how much you’re likely to be charged in LMI.

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.

What happens when you default on your mortgage?

A mortgage default occurs when you are 90 days or more behind on your mortgage repayments. Late repayments will often incur a late fee on top of the amount owed which will continue to gather interest along with the remaining principal amount.

If you do default on a mortgage repayment you should try and catch up in next month’s payment. If this isn’t possible, and missing payments is going to become a regular issue, you need to contact your lender as soon as possible to organise an alternative payment schedule and discuss further options.

You may also want to talk to a financial counsellor. 

How personalised is my rating?

Real Time Ratings produces instant scores for loan products and updates them based what you tell us about what you’re looking for in a loan. In that sense, we believe the ratings are as close as you get to personalised; the more you tell us, the more we customise to ratings to your needs. Some borrowers value flexibility, while others want the lowest cost loan. Your preferences will be reflected in the rating. 

We also take a shorter term, more realistic view of how long borrowers hold onto their loan, which gives you a better idea about the true borrowing costs. We take your loan details and calculate how much each of the relevent loans would cost you on average each month over the next five years. We assess the overall flexibility of each loan and give you an easy indication of which ones are likely to adjust to your needs over time. 

How often is your data updated?

We work closely with lenders to get updates as quick as possible, with updates made the same day wherever possible.

How can I get a home loan with no deposit?

Following the Global Financial Crisis, no-deposit loans, as they once used to be known, have largely been removed from the market. Now, if you wish to enter the market with no deposit, you will require a property of your own to secure a loan against or the assistance of a guarantor.

How much of the RBA rate cut do lenders pass on to borrowers?

When the Reserve Bank of Australia cuts its official cash rate, there is no guarantee lenders will then pass that cut on to lenders by way of lower interest rates. 

Sometimes lenders pass on the cut in full, sometimes they partially pass on the cut, sometimes they don’t at all. When they don’t, they often defend the decision by saying they need to balance the needs of their shareholders with the needs of their borrowers. 

As the attached graph shows, more recent cuts have seen less lenders passing on the full RBA interest rate cut; the average lender was more likely to pass on about two-thirds of the 25 basis points cut to its borrowers.  image002

What is 'principal and interest'?

‘Principal and interest’ loans are the most common type of home loans on the market. The principal part of the loan is the initial sum lent to the customer and the interest is the money paid on top of this, at the agreed interest rate, until the end of the loan.

By reducing the principal amount, the total of interest charged will also become smaller until eventually the debt is paid off in full.

How common are low-deposit home loans?

Low-deposit home loans aren’t as common as they once were, because they’re regarded as relatively risky and the banking regulator (APRA) is trying to reduce risk from the mortgage market.

However, if you do your research, you’ll find there is still a fairly wide selection of banks, credit unions and non-bank lenders that offers low-deposit home loans.

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.

What is an ombudsman?

An complaints officer – previously referred to as an ombudsman -looks at formal complaints from customers about their credit providers, and helps to find a fair and independent solution to these problems.

These services are handled by the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, a non-profit government organisation that addresses and resolves financial disputes between customers and financial service providers.

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.

Do other comparison sites offer the same service?

Real Time RatingsTM is the only online system that ranks the home loan market based on your personal borrowing preferences. Until now, home loans have been rated based on outdated data. Our system is unique because it reacts to changes as soon as we update our database.

How does Real Time Ratings work?

Real Time RatingsTM looks at your individual home loan requirements and uses this information to rank every applicable home loan in our database out of five.

This score is based on two main factors – cost and flexibility.

Cost is calculated by looking at the interest rates and fees over the first five years of the loan.

Flexibility is based on whether a loan offers features such as an offset account, redraw facility and extra repayments.

Real Time RatingsTM also includes the following assumptions:

  • Costs are calculated on the current variable rate however they could change in the future.
  • Loans are assumed to be principal and interest
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  • Break costs are not included.