Home loan customer satisfaction grows despite unprecedented financial challenges

Home loan customer satisfaction grows despite unprecedented financial challenges

New research has found that home loan customer satisfaction increased across all 10 leading banks in the year to November 2020.

According to the latest financial data from Roy Morgan, all 10 banks have increased their customer satisfaction among mortgage holders from a year ago, despite the COVID-19 pandemic that many feared would have a very negative impact on Australia’s housing market.

The bank that recorded the highest level of customer satisfaction among home loan customers was ING, with an exceptional 94.4 per cent in November 2020, up 2.1 percentage points on a year ago in November 2019.

In second place was ME Bank with a home loan customer satisfaction rating of 89.8 per cent, followed by Bankwest on 88.2 per cent and Bendigo Bank on 87.8 per cent.

Other banks to increase their home loan customer satisfaction from a year ago included Suncorp (85.1 per cent), St. George (81.3 per cent), CBA (79.5 per cent), NAB (77.8 per cent), ANZ (74.9 per cent) and Westpac (73.2 per cent).

CBA enjoyed the highest home loan customer satisfaction of any of the major banks, while overall home loan customer satisfaction with the big four was 77.1 per cent.

The banks with the biggest increases in customer satisfaction from a year ago were Suncorp (up 12.6 percentage points), Bankwest (up 7.5 percentage points), NAB (up 6.7 percentage points), St. George (up 5.6 percentage points), CBA (up 5.2 percentage points) and ANZ (up 5.0 percentage points).

Roy Morgan Banking Satisfaction Stats

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said the increases in customer satisfaction were a vote of confidence in the responses by the banks to help Australians deal with the unprecedented financial hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including mortgage deferrals and interest rate reductions.

“The response of Australian banking and financial institutions to the COVID-19 pandemic has been rewarded with customer satisfaction ratings of home loan customers increasing for all 10 leading banks compared to a year ago by an average of 4.8 percentage points to 79 per cent,” Ms Levine said.

“Australia’s banks provided unprecedented support to home loan customers thrust into financial hardship during 2020 with a wide range of support measures.

“In-depth Roy Morgan research into the impact of COVID-19 on Australians’ finances shows 10 per cent of Australians who have had a negative employment impact from COVID-19 have had their mortgage payments put on hold for a period of time, and this translates into 21 per cent of all Australians with mortgages.”

According to Ms Levine, the increasing satisfaction for the banks throughout last year has continued a trend that began with the conclusion of the banking royal commission in early 2019.

“In hindsight, it’s clear Australia’s banks have taken the findings of the royal commission seriously and significantly improved their behaviour and responsiveness to customer needs,” she said.

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Learn more about home loans

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 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.

Am I guaranteed to be approved for all the loans I’m shown?

No. While we will do our best to show a list of loans that may suit your needs, if you choose to apply to refinance, it is up to the lender to approve or disapprove your loan based on your individual circumstances, after you have submitted all your paperwork.

This can sometimes take up to 30 days, so it is important to find out exactly what the criteria is for the loan, and what you need in terms of paperwork. RateCity does not make any suggestions taking into account your personal and individual needs.

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 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

How can I pay off my home loan faster?

The quickest way to pay off your home loan is to make regular extra contributions in addition to your monthly repayments to pay down the principal as fast as possible. This in turn reduces the amount of interest paid overall and shortens the length of the loan.

Another option may be to increase the frequency of your payments to fortnightly or weekly, rather than monthly, which may then reduce the amount of interest you are charged, depending on how your lender calculates repayments.

What is a honeymoon rate and honeymoon period?

Also known as the ‘introductory rate’ or ‘bait rate’, a honeymoon rate is a special low interest rate applied to loans for an initial period to attract more borrowers. The honeymoon period when this lower rate applies usually varies from six months to one year. The rate can be fixed, capped or variable for the first 12 months of the loan. At the end of the term, the loan reverts to the standard variable rate.

How do I save for a mortgage when renting?

Saving for a deposit to secure a mortgage when renting is challenging but it can be done with time and patience. If you’re on a single income it can be even more difficult but this shouldn’t discourage you from buying your own home.

To save for a deposit, plan out a monthly budget and put it in a prominent position so it acts as a daily reminder of your ultimate goal. In your budget, set aside an amount of money each week to go into a savings account so you can start building up the ‘0’s’ in your account.  There are a range of online savings accounts that offer reasonable interest, although some will only off you high rates for the first few months so be wary of this.

If you aren’t able to save a large deposit, you can consider ways of entering the market that require small or no deposits. This can include getting a parent to act as guarantor for your home loan or entering the market with an interest only loan.

How can I negotiate a better home loan rate?

Negotiating with your bank can seem like a daunting task but if you have been a loyal customer with plenty of equity built up then you hold more power than you think. It’s highly likely your current lender won’t want to let your business go without a fight so if you do your research and find out what other banks are offering new customers you might be able to negotiate a reduction in interest rate, or a reduction in fees with your existing lender.

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

When should I switch home loans?

The answer to this question is dependent on your personal circumstances – there is no best time for refinancing that will apply to everyone.

If you want a lower interest rate but are happy with the other aspects of your loan it may be worth calling your lender to see if you can negotiate a better deal. If you have some equity up your sleeve – at least 20 per cent – and have done your homework to see what other lenders are offering new customers, pick up the phone to your bank and negotiate. If they aren’t prepared to offer you lower rate or fees, then you’ve already done the research, so consider switching.

What is a valuation and valuation fee?

A valuation is an assessment of what your home is worth, calculated by a professional valuer. A valuation report is typically required whenever a property is bought, sold or refinanced. The valuation fee is paid to cover the cost of preparing a valuation report.

Can I change jobs while I am applying for a home loan?

Whether you’re a new borrower or you’re refinancing your home loan, many lenders require you to be in a permanent job with the same employer for at least 6 months before applying for a home loan. Different lenders have different requirements. 

If your work situation changes for any reason while you’re applying for a mortgage, this could reduce your chances of successfully completing the process. Contacting the lender as soon as you know your employment situation is changing may allow you to work something out.