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Greater Bank becomes 10th mortgage lender to offer an interest rate below 2%

Greater Bank becomes 10th mortgage lender to offer an interest rate below 2%

Greater Bank has become the 10th mortgage lender to put forward an interest rate below 2 per cent.

An interest rate below 2 per cent was first introduced as recently as 10 weeks ago, meaning that on average, one lender per week has slashed its home loan rate to under 2 per cent.

The Newcastle-based mutual bank has today reduced its one-year fixed interest rate by 0.10 per cent to 1.99 per cent for principal and interest (P&I) home loans.

Rates on Greater Bank’s interest-only fixed-rate mortgages were also given the same discount as their P&I counterparts, bringing the rate to 2.09 per cent.

New and existing home loan customers wanting to refinance to a fixed rate mortgage may be eligible for the rates, which are only open to borrowers in NSW, ACT and Queensland.

Greater Bank has also introduced new variable rates of 2.68 per cent for owner-occupied loans and 2.98 per cent for investment loans, also effective from today.

Greater Bank gears up for tougher competition

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) historic low cash rate has held steady since March, providing low-cost funding to the lender and more affordable interest rates to borrowers, Greater Bank’s chief executive officer, Scott Morgan, said.

“It’s hard to believe that the market now offers a fixed-term rate with a ‘1’ at the start, such is the time we are living,” he said.

“What this does is provide an opportunity for new and existing customers to look at their current financial position and considering fixing their home loan.”

Mr Morgan said Greater Bank will be “very competitive” against major lenders within the fixed home loan market.

“As a customer-owned bank, we don’t have shareholders meaning our financial interests are firmly aligned with the needs of our customers. It is this alignment of interests that allows us to offer one of the most affordable one-year fixed rate home loans in the market,” he said.

Mortgage rates continue to dive

Home loan rates have been in steady decline since March when the RBA slashed the cash rate twice in one month to 0.25 per cent, in response to COVID-19.

RateCity analysis shows that by refinancing to a variable rate of under 2 per cent, an average mortgage holder could potentially save hundreds per month, after fees.

If an owner-occupier who:

  • has a $400,000 home loan paying principal and interest,
  • is on a 25-year loan term, and
  • is on the RBA’s average existing owner-occupier rate of 3.22 per cent

refinanced to a 1.99 per cent loan, they could potentially save about $250 a month, factoring in a one-off $350 discharge fee.

And for mortgage holders who are not eligible for sub-2 per cent rates or want to do their due diligence, 83 lenders on the RateCity database are offering owner-occupier rates below 2.5 per cent.

The lowest variable rate is 1.95 per cent, from Easy Street Financial Services, though it only applies to loans of more than $750,000.

Reduce Home Loans has the lowest fixed rate at 1.90 per cent, which borrowers will have locked in for one year.

The first lender to put a 1 in front of its home loan rate was Bank of Us, which made the record-breaking move in late June.

The 10 lenders offering rates under 2%

LenderLoan productAdvertised Rate
Reduce Home LoansFixed (intro rate 1 year)1.90%
Easy Street Financial ServicesVariable (loans over $750K)1.95%
Homestar Finance1-year fixed1.98%
Greater Bank1-year fixed1.99%
Bank First3-year fixed1.99%
Community First Credit Union2-year fixed1.99%
Loans.com.auVariable (intro rate 1 year)1.99%
People’s Choice Credit Union1-year fixed1.99%
Bank of Us1-year fixed (Tasmania only)1.99%
Hume Bank3-year fixed (Local postcodes only)1.99%

Source: RateCity.com.au.

Note: Hume Bank rate is only available to new loans for renovation or construction of new properties within 150 km of Albury Post Office. Loans.com.au product is an introductory variable rate – 1.99% for one year after which it reverts to 2.57%. Data accurate as of September 8, 2020.

Big four banks – lowest rates

LenderAdvertised variableAdvertised

2-yr fixed

Advertised

3-yr fixed

CBA2.79%2.29%2.29%
Westpac*2.69%2.19%2.19%
NAB2.69%2.19%2.29%
ANZ2.72%2.29%2.29%

Source: RateCity.com.au.

Note: Rates are for owner occupiers paying principal and interest. *Westpac’s rates are for customers with a loan-to-value ratio of less than 70 per cent. Data accurate as of September 8, 2020.

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Fact Checked -

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

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Learn more about home loans

What is the difference between fixed, variable and split rates?

Fixed rate

A fixed rate home loan is a loan where the interest rate is set for a certain amount of time, usually between one and 15 years. The advantage of a fixed rate is that you know exactly how much your repayments will be for the duration of the fixed term. There are some disadvantages to fixing that you need to be aware of. Some products won’t let you make extra repayments, or offer tools such as an offset account to help you reduce your interest, while others will charge a significant break fee if you decide to terminate the loan before the fixed period finishes.

Variable rate

A variable rate home loan is one where the interest rate can and will change over the course of your loan. The rate is determined by your lender, not the Reserve Bank of Australia, so while the cash rate might go down, your bank may decide not to follow suit, although they do broadly follow market conditions. One of the upsides of variable rates is that they are typically more flexible than their fixed rate counterparts which means that a lot of these products will let you make extra repayments and offer features such as offset accounts.

Split rates home loans

A split loan lets you fix a portion of your loan, and leave the remainder on a variable rate so you get a bet each way on fixed and variable rates. A split loan is a good option for someone who wants the peace of mind that regular repayments can provide but still wants to retain some of the additional features variable loans typically provide such as an offset account. Of course, with most things in life, split loans are still a trade-off. If the variable rate goes down, for example, the lower interest rates will only apply to the section that you didn’t fix.

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 is the difference between a fixed rate and variable rate?

A variable rate can fluctuate over the life of a loan as determined by your lender. While the rate is broadly reflective of market conditions, including the Reserve Bank’s cash rate, it is by no means the sole determining factor in your bank’s decision-making process.

A fixed rate is one which is set for a period of time, regardless of market fluctuations. Fixed rates can be as short as one year or as long as 15 years however after this time it will revert to a variable rate, unless you negotiate with your bank to enter into another fixed term agreement

Variable rates is that they are typically more flexible than their fixed rate counterparts which means that a lot of these products will let you make extra repayments and offer features such as offset accounts however fixed rates do offer customers a level of security by knowing exactly how much they need to set aside each month.

What is a variable home loan?

A variable rate home loan is one where the interest rate can and will change over the course of your loan. The rate is determined by your lender, not the Reserve Bank of Australia, so while the cash rate might go down, your bank may decide not to follow suit, although they do broadly follow market conditions. One of the upsides of variable rates is that they are typically more flexible than their fixed rate counterparts which means that a lot of these products will let you make extra repayments and offer features such as offset accounts.

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.

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. 

What is a fixed home loan?

A fixed rate home loan is a loan where the interest rate is set for a certain amount of time, usually between one and 15 years. The advantage of a fixed rate is that you know exactly how much your repayments will be for the duration of the fixed term. There are some disadvantages to fixing that you need to be aware of. Some products won’t let you make extra repayments, or offer tools such as an offset account to help you reduce your interest, while others will charge a significant break fee if you decide to terminate the loan before the fixed period finishes.

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 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 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.

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 is a comparison rate?

The comparison rate is a more inclusive way of comparing home loans that factors in not only on the interest rate but also the majority of upfront and ongoing charges that add to the total cost of a home loan.

The rate is calculated using an industry-wide formula based on a $150,000 loan over a 25-year period and includes things like revert rates after an introductory or fixed rate period, application fees and monthly account keeping fees.

In Australia, all lenders are required by law to publish the comparison rate alongside their advertised rate so people can compare products easily.

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.