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No move expected from the RBA, but banks keep chipping away at variable rates

No move expected from the RBA, but banks keep chipping away at variable rates

Variable rates continue to fall, with 27 lenders cutting at least one variable rate in the last month.

This is despite the RBA keeping the cash rate on hold for almost 12 months and no move expected until at least 2024.

Rate changes in the last month: lenders that have moved at least one rate

Lenders that have cutLenders that have hiked
Variable271
1 year Fixed71
2 year Fixed60
3 year Fixed310
4 year Fixed09
5 year Fixed29

Source: RateCity.com.au. Data is from 4 September to 3 October 2021 inclusive.

Analysis from RateCity.com.au shows while the majority of rates under 2 per cent are fixed, there are now 48 variable home loan rates also under 2 per cent.

Number of home loan rates under 2%

CategoryNumber of rates under 2%Current lowest rate
Variable481.77%
1-year fixed471.59%
2-year fixed791.59%
3-year fixed311.79%
4-year fixed02.15%
5-year fixed02.27%

Source: RateCity.com.au.

RateCity.com.au research director, Sally Tindall, said the majority of cuts in the last month were to variable rates.

“Banks largely left fixed rates alone last month, opting for a ‘wait and see’ approach as they work out what impact Australia’s COVID recovery plan will have on the economy,” she said.

“However, this hasn’t stopped many lenders from taking the scissors to their more malleable variable rates, which were lagging well behind fixed rates.

“When the RBA cut the cash rate last November there were just six variable rates under 2 per cent. Today there are 48, including five investor rates.

“After the last two cash rate cuts, variable rates barely moved as most lenders opted to drop fixed rates instead. If anything, these cuts are overdue,” she said.

While the value of new home loans dropped slightly in August, refinancing hit a record high of $17.78 billion.

“Locked-down Australians might not have been able to hit the stores over the last couple of months, but they have used the time to take their home loan shopping,” she said.

“This refinancing renaissance is great news. Each month tens of thousands of households are now saving more on their mortgage, but also collectively it puts pressure on lenders to keep their rates competitive.

“In recent months almost $50 billion worth of residential mortgages has been up for grabs. This might seem like a gigantic pot, but with over 120 lenders on the market, and hordes of borrowers with itchy feet, the competition is intense,” she said.

Lowest rates on the RateCity.com.au database

LenderRate
1 yr fixedGreater Bank, Bank of Us

1.59%

2 yr fixedGreater Bank

1.59%

3 yr fixedCommunity First Credit Union

1.79%

4 yr fixedIllawarra Credit Union

2.15%

5 yr fixedFreedom Lend

2.27%

VariableReduce Home Loans

1.77%

Source: RateCity.com.au Note: Rates are for owner-occupiers paying principal and interest. Some LVR requirements apply. Greater Bank is only available for properties in NSW, Qld and ACT. Bank of Us is only available to Tasmanian residents.

Lowest big four bank owner-occupier home loan rates

CBAWestpac*NAB ANZ
1 yr fixed

2.09%

1.99%

2.09% 

2.04%

2 yr fixed

1.99%

1.89%

1.99%

1.94%

3 yr fixed

2.19%

1.98%

2.18%

2.04%

4 yr fixed

2.29%

2.49%

2.49%

2.49%

5 yr fixed

2.99%

2.79%

2.79%

2.69%

Variable

2.69%

1.99% for 2 yrs then 2.49%

2.69%

2.72%

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

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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

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.

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.

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.

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.

What does unconditional approval from Aussie Home Loans mean for first time home buyers?

As an Aussie home loan first time home buyer, your loan application passes through multiple stages. Early in the process, you’ll receive conditional approval, which means the lender approves your loan application as long as you meet certain conditions. Some of these criteria include selling another property or repaying existing debt.

The next stage is unconditional approval which is the final decision from the lender. After considering all the relevant information, the lender is willing to offer you a certain amount to buy a specific property.

Unconditional approval is also known as formal or full approval but receiving this doesn’t mean you need to accept the money. If you choose to proceed and accept the funds, you’ll sign the loan documents to finalise the loan and receive the money. You can, at this time, clarify any doubts you have with your Aussie broker.

You’re likely to get conditional approval, sometimes called pre-approval, when you want to get clear on your budget. You’ll then apply for unconditional or formal approval once you’ve found a property and made an offer. This process will involve the lender reviewing your finances and the details of the property you wish to purchase to make sure you can repay a loan on that property.

As a first time buyer, it may help you with the purchasing process to seek pre-approval or conditional approval. This may speed up the final purchasing process and help you through the home loan process in steps rather than all at once.

Is a second mortgage tax deductible?

If you take out a loan to invest in a property, you can claim a tax deduction on the interest you pay as long as the property is earning income. In other words, if you rent the property for the entire year, you can claim a tax deduction for 12 months of interest payments. But, if you use the home for six months and rent it for the other six months, you can claim deduction only for 50 per cent of the interest amount.

You also get tax benefits for items that lose value over the years. But, the entire amount is not allowed as a tax deduction in the same year; instead you’ll have to claim a portion each year over a number of years. 

Additional borrowing costs, such as maintenance fees, stamp duty, offset account setting up fees, Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI), and establishment fees, can also be claimed as tax deductions.

Before you claim second mortgage tax deductions, it’s often worth checking with an experienced tax expert.

What is a secured home loan?

When the lender creates a mortgage on your property, they’re offering you a secured home loan. It means you’re offering the property as security to the lender who holds this security against the risk of default or any delays in home loan repayments. Suppose you’re unable to repay the loan. In this case, the lender can take ownership of your property and sell it to recover any outstanding funds you owe. The lender retains this hold over your property until you repay the entire loan amount.

If you take out a secured home loan, you may be charged a lower interest rate. The amount you can borrow depends on the property’s value and the deposit you can pay upfront. Generally, lenders allow you to borrow between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of the property value as the loan. Often, you’ll need Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) if the deposit is less than 20 per cent of the property value. Lenders will also do a property valuation to ensure you’re borrowing enough to cover the purchase. 

Does the family tax benefit count as income?

The family tax benefits are one of several government support payments that are not considered taxable income. Other such payments include child care subsidies, economic support payments, rent assistance, and carer allowances. If you file a tax return, you typically don’t need to mention such income on the return. However, some home loan lenders may accept family tax benefits as an income source when reviewing your home loan application. You’ll still need to meet other lending requirements, such as having a sufficiently high credit score and enough savings for a deposit before the loan will be approved.

Aussies receiving family tax benefits usually have an adjusted taxable income of no more than $55,626 a year. Alternatively, one spouse can be receiving income support payments from the government to be eligible. Most importantly, they need to have children dependent on them for care at least 35 per cent of the time. Children between the ages of 16 and 19 should be either full-time secondary students or have a somewhat comparable study load unless the government exempts them from these study requirements. 

What is the ANZ home loan settlement process?

Settlement is the procedure for the official transfer of ownership between the seller and buyer. It’s often done without the seller or buyers input but between both parties’ the financial and legal representatives.

Here is how the ANZ home loan settlement process works:

  1. The solicitor or conveyancer prepares the Transfer of Land document at least two weeks before the settlement date.
  2. The signed document is registered at the state or territory land registry office.
  3. Your solicitor or conveyancer will connect with the ANZ home loan settlement contact and the seller’s solicitor or conveyancer to finalise the date, time, and place of settlement.
  4. You must deposit any applicable amount into your ANZ account three days before the settlement date.
  5. After the settlement is completed, your solicitor or conveyancer will send you a Statement of Adjustment confirming the disbursal of funds from your home loan amongst the involved parties.

How does ANZ calculate early repayment costs?

If you have a fixed interest home loan, you’ll pay ANZ home loan early exit fees for partial or full repayment of the loan amount before the end of the fixed interest rate duration. These fees are also payable if you switch to another variable or fixed-rate loan.

The ANZ mortgage early exit fees can vary and you can get an estimate from the lender before you decide to prepay the loan. However, the exact early repayment cost can be determined when you prepay the loan.

The early exit fees are calculated after considering factors like the prepayment amount, the period left before the fixed-rate duration ends, and the change in the market rates since the beginning of the fixed-rate period. The early exit fees may not be charged if you’re paying off a smaller amount. You can check with ANZ to see how much you’ll have to pay.

How can I apply for a first home buyers loan with Commonwealth Bank?

Getting a home loan requires planning and research. If you are considering a home loan with the Commonwealth Bank, you can find the information you need in the buying your first home section of the bank’s website.

You can see the steps you should take before applying for the loan and use the calculators to work out how much you can borrow, what your monthly repayments would be and the upfront costs you’d likely pay.

You can also book a time with a Commonwealth first home loan specialist by calling 13 2221.

CommBank publishes a property report that may help you understand the real estate market. The bank has also created a CommBank Property App that you can use to search for property.  The link to download this app is available on the same webpage.

If you are eligible for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, CommBank will help you process your application. The scheme helps first home buyers to purchase a home with a low deposit. You can read details about this scheme here and speak with a CommBank home lending specialist to understand your options.

What is the average length of a home loan?

Most Aussie lenders offer home loans with a 30-year term, meaning that you should pay back the full loan amount and the interest you owe on the amount in 30 years. 

However, home loans can also have a shorter or longer term. They may be as low as ten years or up to 45 years, depending on the product and lender. 

It’s worth remembering that a longer loan term usually means you’ll end up paying a lot more interest in total, but your scheduled repayments may be more manageable. In contrast, you could opt for a shorter loan term if you are comfortable making large repayments in exchange for paying less interest over the term of the loan.

What are the NAB term deposit interest rates for businesses?

If you’re looking to lock in a return on your business savings, one option is a business term deposit with NAB. The big four bank provides competitive interest rates while giving you the flexibility to choose the term. NAB offers business term deposit interest rates for investments of between $5,000 to $499,999.

NAB doesn’t charge any monthly account or application fees. The interest is calculated daily and for the 90-day term and six months term, you will get paid when the deposit matures. For the 12 months term, you can either choose to get paid monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually. 

If you wish to withdraw your funds before the deposit matures, you need to give NAB 31 days notice. However, they do make exceptions if you’re experiencing hardship and need the funds immediately. Either way, you may have to bear the prepayment cost, which you can learn more about in the Terms and Conditions.