COVID-19 amnesty over: Banks to resume reporting bad credit

COVID-19 amnesty over: Banks to resume reporting bad credit

New research from RateCity shows one in six Australians are worried about their credit scores in light of COVID-19, as banks resume credit reporting.

From April 1, the mortgage deferral program and corresponding credit score amnesty is over. The program was created at the height of COVID to provide automatic relief for people who experienced a drop in wages, with half a million home loans deferred at the peak.

Banks and credit providers will now begin reporting any late payments on loans or bills unless a person has filed for hardship with their bank.

This comes in the same week as up to 150,000 Australians are facing unemployment now JobKeeper is finished. It also coincides with the end of the Coronavirus supplement on government benefits, which sees a net reduction of $100 a fortnight to the JobSeeker payment.

Key April 1 changes:

Credit reporting resumes Banks and credit providers will begin reporting any late payments on loans or bills.
JobSeeker Coronavirus Supplement of $150 per fortnight ends.

Base rate increases by $50.

Other government payments:

Youth Allowance

Disability Support Pension

Parenting Payment

Austudy

Special Benefit

Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance

Farm Household Allowance.

Coronavirus Supplement of $150 per fortnight ends.

Base rate increases by $50.

 

RateCity research director, Sally Tindall, said: “A new wave of people unable to pay the bills is likely now that JobKeeper has gone.”

“The banks may have wrapped up their COVID mortgage deferral programs and finished the credit reporting amnesty, but that doesn't mean you're on your own.

“Anyone who thinks they’ll struggle to make their monthly mortgage repayments needs to act now. Don’t wait until you’ve missed a repayment to call your bank, because by then it’ll be too late, and will end up on your credit file.

“When you speak to your bank don’t hold back, be completely honest about your finances. There are hardship programs there to help you.

“If you are going into a hardship agreement with your bank, ask your bank how they are going to report it to the credit bureaus, as this could impact loans you apply for in the future.

“It’s also a good idea to keep track of your credit score and make sure your credit file is accurate,” she said.

Credit score concerns

A new RateCity survey of 1,005 Australians revealed one in six are concerned about their credit score in light of COVID-19.

Of those surveyed:

  • 71% of respondents say they are not concerned
  • 16% of respondents they are concerned
  • 13% of respondents are unsure
  • More men (22%) are concerned about their credit scores than women (11%)
  • People aged 35-44 year are the most concerned of all age groups at 30%

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Learn more about home loans

What is a credit file?

A comprehensive summary of your credit history from an authorised credit reporting agency.

It includes your credit details, credit taken in the last five years, any default payments or credit infringements, arrears, repayment history, bankruptcy filings and a list of credit applications (including unapproved credit applications) in addition to your personal details.

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.

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.

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.

What do people do with a Macquarie Bank reverse?

There are a number of ways people use a Macquarie Bank reverse mortgage. Below are some reasons borrowers tend to release their home’s equity via a reverse mortgage:

  • To top up superannuation or pension income to pay for monthly bills;
  • To consolidate and repay high-interest debt like credit cards or personal loans;
  • To fund renovations, repairs or upgrades to their home
  • To help your children or grandkids through financial difficulties. 

While there are no limitations on how you can use a Macquarie reverse mortgage loan, a reverse mortgage is not right for all borrowers. Reverse mortgages compound the interest, which means you end up paying interest on your interest. They can also affect your entitlement to things like the pension It’s important to think carefully, read up and speak with your family before you apply for a reverse mortgage.

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.

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.

 

Why do I need to enter my current mortgage information?

We use your current mortgage details to calculate the potential savings if you were to change lenders, and also to help us point you to loans that may meet your needs.

For example – if you live in the house you own, we’ll make sure we show you the owner-occupier rates, which are typically cheaper than investor rates. Or if you have less than 20% equity in your property, then we won’t show you the deals that require a greater amount of equity.

How does it work? What are the steps involved?

To check your rate, start by entering your contact details and home loan information at ratecity.com.au. We’ll compare your current home loan to other options in our database, and let you know how much you could save by refinancing.  

If we can’t beat your current rate, you can claim a $100 gift card by confirming your home loan details with us.*

How do I find out my current interest rate and how much is owing on my loan?

Your bank statements and/or your internet banking should show these details. If you are not sure, call your bank or estimate.

Who can enter?

Any Australian resident who is over 18 and currently has a personal home loan is eligible for our Home Loan Rate Promise. See terms and conditions.

What is the Home Loan Rate Promise?

The Home Loan Rate Promise is RateCity putting its money where its mouth is. We believe that too many Australians are paying too much for their home loans. We’re so confident we can help Aussies save money, if we can’t beat your current rate, we’ll give you a $100 gift card.*

There are two reasons it pays to check your rate with the Home Loan Rate Promise:

  • You can find out how much you could save on your home loan by switching to a loan with a lower interest rate
  • If we can’t beat your current rate, you can claim a $100 gift card with our Home Loan Rate Promise*