HomeBuilder: As development forecasts slump, government announces red tape cuts 

HomeBuilder: As development forecasts slump, government announces red tape cuts 

Tradies, teachers and property agents will be able to work across the country – bucking a policy of state-bound licencing – in a plan designed to cut red tape and boost work opportunities as Australia’s job numbers contract. 

There’s currently 800 different licences in trades including carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, builders, electricians and plumbers that limit them to work in the state or territory they were obtained. 

But the mutual recognition regime is complex, costly and burdensome on businesses that conduct business across state lines, Treasurer Josh Frydenbgerg said, and is in need of reform.

“A uniform scheme will make it easier and less expensive for businesses, professionals and workers to move or operate within jurisdictions and across Australia,” he said, “thereby creating jobs, increasing output, competition and innovation, and resulting in lower prices for consumers and businesses.”

Commonwealth, state and territory treasurers agree the licences that tradies, teachers and property agents obtained should be recognised across other parts of the nation, and plan to pass legislation to see the reforms take effect on 1 January, 2021.

“It is vital to ensuring Australians, including displaced workers, can take up new job opportunities wherever they arise as the economy recovers and restrictions on movement are eased from COVID-19,” Mr Frydenberg said.

Keeping the construction industry chugging along

The announcement, made as states and territories restrict border access to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, is another measure spearheaded by the Federal Government to help stimulate the construction industry at a time when work is drying up and unemployment is on the rise.

The government’s HomeBuilder plan aims to stimulate the construction industry by offering eligible people grants to renovate or build homes.

The $680 million initiative offers grants of $25,000 to owner-occupiers spending from $150,000 to $750,000 renovating their home, or people building a new home on land worth no more than $750,000.

A fraction of people spent $150,000 or more renovating their home last year, according to Houzz and Home. Their survey of 4500 people found ten per cent met the spending threshold in order to be eligible for HomeBuilder. 

Development forecast slashed by more than 25 per cent

The national lobby group representing the $220 billion building and construction industry is forecasting the number of homes being built in the next year to drop by more than a quarter, and is calling on the government to spend billions more on stimulus packages. 

“We have downgraded our forecast for the housing sector by 25 per cent for 2020/21 so that we are now predicting a 27 per cent fall in homebuilding activity compared to 2019/20,” Denita Wawn said, chief executive of Master Builders Australia.

“Private sector investment is evaporating, and the Government must step in to save businesses and jobs.

“... Our industry is facing a bloodbath, there is simply no other way to describe it.”

The lobby group is calling on the Federal Government to extend the HomeBuilder grant from six to 18 months, pushing the cost into the billions – but they claim the investment would yield a return.

“A 12 month extension of HomeBuilder will boost GDP by between nearly $4 billion and $4.5 billion, create more than 4,500 new jobs and result in up to 6,200 new dwelling starts,” Ms Wawn said.

What about a ‘CommunityBuilder’ package?: Lobby group

They are also calling for a supplementary stimulus package – coined CommunityBuilder – that would offer grants to not-for-profit and local grassroots community organisations to help fund the construction of new facilities or renovations that’ll overhaul existing ones.

“CommunityBuilder … would employ the highly successful HomeBuilder model to kickstart work for the thousands of SME commercial construction businesses that employ hundreds of thousands of tradies around the country,” she said.

“Our modelling suggests that an investment of $3.8 billion will deliver a boost of $6.8 billion to gross domestic product and create 13,000 new jobs.”

The group is hoping the measure will be funded in the Federal Budget to be announced in October. 

Fewer than 250 HomeBuilder applications – so far

HomeBuilder is being heralded as a lifeline for the construction industry by developers and lobby groups, but it’s difficult to measure the impact it’s had two months after it was revealed.

A Senate COVID-19 select committee heard testimony on Friday that revealed 247 HomeBuilder applications had been formally lodged, according to The Guardian – of which 157 were from South Australia and 90 were from Tasmania.

“They’re the applications that have been received to date,” Vicki Wilkinson, the head of Treasury’s social policy division, told the committee. “To date no payments have been made.”

The majority of states and territories began receiving applications in July, while New South Wales began accepting them last week.

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Learn more about home loans

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 will Real Time Ratings help me find a new home loan?

The home loan market is complex. With almost 4,000 different loans on offer, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to work out which loans work for you.

That’s where Real Time RatingsTM can help. Our system automatically filters out loans that don’t fit your requirements and ranks the remaining loans based on your individual loan requirements and preferences.

Best of all, the ratings are calculated in real time so you know you’re getting the most current information.

Does Australia have no-deposit home loans?

Australia no longer has no-deposit home loans – or 100 per cent home loans as they’re also known – because they’re regarded as too risky.

However, some lenders allow some borrowers to take out mortgages with a 5 per cent deposit.

Another option is to source a deposit from elsewhere – either by using a parental guarantee or by drawing out equity from another property.

What is a low-deposit home loan?

A low-deposit home loan is a mortgage where you need to borrow more than 80 per cent of the purchase price – in other words, your deposit is less than 20 per cent of the purchase price.

For example, if you want to buy a $500,000 property, you’ll need a low-deposit home loan if your deposit is less than $100,000 and therefore you need to borrow more than $400,000.

As a general rule, you’ll need to pay LMI (lender’s mortgage insurance) if you take out a low-deposit home loan. You can use this LMI calculator to estimate your LMI payment.

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. 

How much is the first home buyer's grant?

The first home buyer grant amount will vary depending on what state you’re in and the value of the property that you are purchasing. In general, they start around $10,000 but it is advisable to check your eligibility for the grant as well as how much you are entitled to with your state or territory’s revenue office.

Will I have to pay lenders' mortgage insurance twice if I refinance?

If your deposit was less than 20 per cent of your property’s value when you took out your original loan, you may have paid lenders’ mortgage insurance (LMI) to cover the lender against the risk that you may default on your repayments. 

If you refinance to a new home loan, but still don’t have enough deposit and/or equity to provide 20 per cent security, you’ll need to pay for the lender’s LMI a second time. This could potentially add thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in upfront costs to your mortgage, so it’s important to consider whether the financial benefits of refinancing may be worth these costs.

Do mortgage brokers need a consumer credit license?

In Australia, mortgage brokers are defined by law as being credit service or assistance providers, meaning that they help borrowers connect with lenders. Mortgage brokers may not always need a consumer credit license however if they’re operating solo they will need an Australian Credit License (ACL). Further, they may also need to comply with requirements asking them to mention their license number in full.

Some mortgage brokers can be “credit representatives”, or franchisees of a mortgage aggregator. In this case, if the aggregator has a license, the mortgage broker need not have one. The reasoning for this is that the franchise agreement usually requires mortgage brokers to comply with the laws applicable to the aggregator. If you’re speaking to a mortgage broker, you can ask them if they receive commissions from lenders, which is a good indicator that they need to be licensed. Consider requesting their license details if they don’t give you the details beforehand. 

You should remember that such a license protects you if you’re given incorrect or misleading advice that results in a home loan application rejection or any financial loss. Brokers are regulated by the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC), as per the National Consumer Credit Protection (NCCP) Act. 

What are the responsibilities of a mortgage broker?

Mortgage brokers act as the go-between for borrowers looking for a home loan and the lenders offering the loan. They offer personalised advice to help borrowers choose the right home loan for their needs.

In Australia, mortgage brokers are required by law to carry an Australian Credit License (ACL) if they offer credit assistance services. Which is the legal term for guidance regarding the different kinds of credit offered by lenders, including home loan mortgages. They may not need this license if they are working for an aggregator, for instance, as a franchisee. In both these situations, they need to comply with the regulations laid down by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

These regulations, which are stipulated by Australian legislation, require mortgage brokers to comply with what are called “responsible lending” and “best interest” obligations. Responsible lending obligations mean brokers have to suggest “suitable” home loans. This means loans that you can easily qualify for,  actually meet your needs, and don’t prove unnecessarily challenging for you.

Starting 1 January 2021, mortgage brokers must comply with best interest obligations in addition to responsible lending obligations. These require mortgage brokers to act in the best interest of their customers and also requires them to prioritise their customers’ interests over their own. For instance, a mortgage broker may not recommend a lender who gives them a commission if that lender’s home loan offer does not benefit that particular customer.

How to break up with your mortgage broker

If you find a mortgage broker giving you generic advice or trying to sell you a competitive offer from an unsuitable lender, you might be better off  breaking up with the mortgage broker and consulting someone else. Breaking up with a mortgage broker can be done over the phone, or via email. You can also raise a complaint, either with the broker’s aggregator or with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority as necessary.

As licensed industry professionals, mortgage brokers have the responsibility of giving you accurate advice so that you know what to expect when you apply for a home loan. You may have approached the mortgage broker, for instance, because you have questions about the terms of a home loan a lender offered you. 

You should remember that mortgage brokers are obliged by law to act in your best interests and as part of complying with The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) regulations. If you feel you didn’t get the right advice from the mortgage broker, or that you lost money as a result of accepting the broker’s suggestions regarding a lender or home loan offer, you can file a complaint with the ASIC and seek compensation. 

When you first speak to a mortgage broker, consider asking them about their Lender Panel, which is the list of lenders they usually recommend and who may pay them a commission. This information can help you decide if the advice they give you has anything to do with the remuneration they may receive from one or more lenders.

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 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. 

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.