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Don’t ask, don’t get: 3 out of 4 mortgage holders who asked for a rate cut, got one 

Don’t ask, don’t get: 3 out of 4 mortgage holders who asked for a rate cut, got one 

Almost three-quarters of variable borrowers who asked for a rate cut, got one, a new survey has found. 

In a RateCity.com.au survey of over 1,000 mortgage holders, of those on a variable rate, 52 per cent haggled with their bank for a lower rate. Over 73 per cent of these people were successful in getting at least one rate cut.

A rate reduction of 0.25 per cent could save the average mortgage holder $1,241 in interest after one year and $3,656 after three years. This is based on a $500,000 loan balance with 25 years remaining.

ASKING FOR A RATE CUT – HOW MUCH CAN YOU SAVE?

RBA average existing customer variable rate: 3.08%

Savings from a 0.25% rate cut

$500K loan$1M loan
After 1 year

$1,241

$2,481

After 3 years

$3,656

$7,312

Savings from a 0.50% rate cut

$500K loan$1M loan
After 1 year

$2,480

$4,961

After 3 years

$7,304

$14,607

Source: RateCity.com.au. Calculations are based on the RBA’s average existing owner-occupier variable rate of 3.08%. It assumes the rate cut is for the life of the loan and the rate remains steady over the following three years. 

While the majority of changes to fixed rates in the last two months have been hikes, the opposite is happening in the variable rate market. 

RateCity.com.au home loan database analysis:

  • 49 lenders have cut at least one variable rate in the past two months.
  • 10 lenders have hiked variable rates in that time.
  • The vast majority of variable rate cuts are reserved for new customers, not existing ones.

RateCity research director, Sally Tindall, said while the RBA is not expected to move the cash rate tomorrow, one phone call could potentially save the average variable rate mortgage holder thousands.

“Variable rates are at record lows, however, most of these deals are reserved for new customers, not existing ones, unless you specifically ask,” she said.

“Before you call, check what rate your bank is giving new customers for the same home loan, but also find out what other lenders have on offer.

“If you are paying significantly more than a new customer, pick up the phone and ask your bank ‘why?’.

“If you have a good track record of paying down your debt, and the bank thinks you might switch to a more competitive lender, they’re likely to play ball.

“A lot of people think a handful of basis points won’t make much of a difference, but if the discount is permanent, then the savings can potentially run into the thousands in just a few years,” she said.

Lowest available home loan rates on RateCity.com.au

Variable
LenderRate
Reduce Home Loans

1.77%

Homestar Finance/Pacific Mortgage Group

1.79%

Freedom Lend

1.84%

1 year fixed
LenderRate
Greater Bank

1.69%

UBank/RACQ Bank/Hume Bank

1.79%

TicToc Home Loans/Well Home Loans/86 400

1.84%

2 year fixed
LenderRate
Greater Bank/P&N Bank/ Homestar Finance

1.79%

ING

1.84%

QBank

1.87%

3 year fixed
LenderRate
ING/MOVE Bank

1.89%

Credit Union SA/ Hume Bank

1.94%

UBank/BankVic/Bank Australia

1.95%

4 year fixed
LenderRate
TMB/UniBank/Health Professional Bank/ Firefighters Mutual Bank

2.14%

Illawarra Credit Union

2.15%

Westpac/St.George/BoM/P&N Bank

2.19%

5 year fixed
LenderRate
Freedom Lend

2.27%

BankVic

2.39%

Bank Australia

2.40%

 Lowest big four bank owner-occupier home loan rates

CBAWestpacNAB ANZ
1 yr fixed

2.09%

1.99%

2.09% 

2.04%

2 yr fixed

1.94%

1.89%

1.99%

1.94%

3 yr fixed

2.19%

1.98%

2.08%

2.04%

4 yr fixed

2.24%

2.19%

2.24%

2.49%

5 yr fixed

2.99%

2.49%

2.49%

2.69%

Variable

2.69%

2.19% for 2 yrs then 2.69%

2.69%

2.72%

Source: RateCity.com.au. Note: Westpac's rates are for a loan to value ratio of up to 70%. 

RateCity survey results summary 

Number of people who have successfully haggled

73%

Number of people who have haggled

52%

Note: some people asked for a rate cut more than once, the results are based on variable rate customers. 

Did you find this helpful? Why not share this news?

This article was reviewed by Research Director Sally Tindall 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 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 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 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.

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 is a standard variable rate (SVR)?

The standard variable rate (SVR) is the interest rate a lender applies to their standard home loan. It is a variable interest rate which is normally used as a benchmark from which they price their other variable rate home loan products.

A standard variable rate home loan typically includes most, if not all the features the lender has on offer, such as an offset account, but it often comes with a higher interest rate attached than their most ‘basic’ product on offer (usually referred to as their basic variable rate mortgage).

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 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.

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*

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.