No RBA cut but home-owners can save three times more by refinancing

No RBA cut but home-owners can save three times more by refinancing

The Reserve Bank has left the cash rate on hold today at 0.25 per cent but has left the door open to a future cut.

While home-owners won’t be getting an RBA cut from their bank this month, they can still save thousands by refinancing.

New figures released by the RBA today show the average existing mortgage holder had a home loan rate of 3.19 per cent in August, yet new owner-occupier customers were offered, on average, a rate of just 2.69 per cent.

Average RBA home loans rates compared to lowest rate loans

 

Average rate - existing customers Average rate - new customers Lowest variable – new customers
Owner-occupied; All loans

3.19%

2.69%

 

1.89%

Investment; All loans

3.55%

3.03%

 

2.49%

Source: RateCity.com.au. Average RBA rates are from Housing Lending data 31.08.2020, released 6.10.2020. Lowest rates are from RateCity.com.au database. LVR restrictions apply for some rates.

RateCity.com.au database

  • Lowest variable rate is 1.89%
  • Lowest big four bank variable rate is 2.19% (Westpac, intro rate for 2 years, reverts to 2.69%)
  • 87 lenders have at least one fixed or variable rate below 2.50%
  • 12 lenders have at least one fixed or variable rate below 2%

RateCity.com.au analysis shows the average owner-occupier would pay $33 less a month with a 0.15 per cent rate cut, but if they refinanced to the RBA average new customer rate their monthly repayments could drop three times as much.

  Rate Monthly repayments Difference
Existing customer rate 3.19% $1,728

$0

Potential rate if RBA cut by 0.15% 3.04% $1,695

$33

New customer rate 2.69% $1,620

$107

Notes: Based on a $400,000 loan over 30 years paying principal and interest. Note refinancers may have shorter loan terms.

RateCity.com.au research director, Sally Tindall, said mortgage holders don’t need to wait around for the RBA to save money.

“While home-owners didn’t get any reprieve from the RBA this month, they can still make significant savings by shopping around.

“If you’re fortunate enough to still have your regular income and a decent amount of equity in your home, you’re in prime position to capitalise on the refinancing boom.

“According to RBA data, the average existing home loan customer is on a rate that’s half a percent higher than a new customer.

“For households currently facing financial hardship due to COVID, don’t be afraid to call your bank and ask for a better deal. The banks have been instructed by ASIC to do everything they can to help struggling customers.

“Find out what rate your bank is offering new customers and use this to help you haggle.

“If the RBA cuts rates by 0.15 per cent in the coming months, the spotlight will be on the banks to see if they pass it on in full to their loyal customers,” she said.

Lowest owner-occupier rates on RateCity.com.au

  Lender Advertised rate
Variable Reduce Home Loans

1.89%

1-year fixed Reduce Home Loans

1.90%

2-year fixed Community First Credit Union/ Illawarra Credit Union

1.99%

3-year fixed Bank First

1.99%

5-year fixed Virgin Money

2.49%

Source: RateCity.com.au. Home loans above are available Australia-wide. LVR restriction may apply.

Big Four Bank lowest rates

Lender Advertised variable Advertised

2-yr fixed

Advertised

3-yr fixed

CBA

2.69%

2.29%

2.29%

Westpac

2.19% for 2 years then 2.69%

2.19%

2.19%

NAB

2.69%

2.19%

2.29%

ANZ

2.72%

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

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Learn more about home loans

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 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 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 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 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).

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.

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 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 average annual percentage rate?

Also known as the comparison rate, or sometimes the ‘true rate’ of a loan, the average annual percentage rate (AAPR) is used to indicate the overall cost of a loan after considering all the fees, charges and other factors, such as introductory offers and honeymoon rates.

The AAPR is calculated based on a standardised loan amount and loan term, and doesn’t include any extra non-standard charges.

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.

Does Australia have no cost refinancing?

No Cost Refinancing is an option available in the US where the lender or broker covers your switching costs, such as appraisal fees and settlement costs. Unfortunately, no cost refinancing isn’t available in Australia.

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. 

Can I get a home loan if I am on an employment contract?

Some lenders will allow you to apply for a mortgage if you are a contractor or freelancer. However, many lenders prefer you to be in a permanent, ongoing role, because a more stable income means you’re more likely to keep up with your repayments.

If you’re a contractor, freelancer, or are otherwise self-employed, it may still be possible to apply for a low-doc home loan, as these mortgages require less specific proof of income.

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.