One in 10 struggling to make mortgage repayments

One in 10 struggling to make mortgage repayments

The number of people struggling to repay their mortgage has more than doubled since the early days of the pandemic, data from the nation’s statistical agency reveals.

About 11 per cent of people struggled to repay their mortgage in October, according to a survey of 1500 people by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), representing an increase of 6 per cent since June.

The rising mortgage stress was owed to relief measures coming to an end combined with high rates of unemployment, Martin North said, principal of Digital Finance Analytics, a research, analysis and consulting firm.

“Despite the return to work as the lock down is eased, the reduction in JobSeeker, JobKeeper and the need to renew mortgage payments are all offsetting the better job news,” he said.

“We are still in the foothills of the financial crisis, and as stimulus is withdrawn further and unemployment continues to rise, stress will deteriorate.”

About 14 per cent of people deferred their mortgage repayments, the Household Impact of COVID-19 survey found, while 5 per cent had to have a bill or rate payment deferred or reduced.

The findings come as loan deferrals for approximately 900,000 homes and businesses come to an end, and as the number of people late on their mortgage repayments has increased.

Most people are likely to recover. Most.

The Australian Banking Association (ABA), the group advocating the interests of the banking industry, revealed repayments have resumed on 600,000 deferred loans.

“This is an encouraging sign that most Australians are through the worst”, Anna Bligh said, chief executive of the ABA.

“... The good news is that the majority are now bouncing back as they restart their loan repayments.”

Banks remain in contact with the remaining 300,000 mortgage holders to help them evaluate their options, including the 145,000 who have deferred their home loans.

These options include extending mortgage deferrals until 31 March, and lowering mortgage repayments by either converting them to interest-only loans, or by stretching the loan over a longer term.

Another option includes people selling their homes.

“Don’t wait till you are in over your head, talk to your bank, they’ll help you find a way through this,” Ms Bligh said.

“Don’t tough it out on your own.”

Some people are having a harder time than others

The recovery has been described as “uneven” and “bumpy” by Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe, as the financial brunt of the pandemic is impacting some people more than others.

And the task of getting everyone back on track financially is likely to get harder over time.

About 10 per cent of people faced problems getting a job in October, the ABS Household Impact survey found, an increase of 4 per cent since June.

Since the pandemic struck in March, there’s still about 428,100 people who have not regained employment since losing their jobs, according to September figures from the ABS.

The nation’s unemployment rate remains high at 6.9 per cent -- above its typical level of 5.5 per cent -- and the RBA forecasts it’ll reach 8 per cent by the end of the year.

Overdue: mortgage delinquencies increase

The number of people who are late on their mortgage repayments by 30 days or more has increased across the country during the pandemic, analysts said.

Delinquencies increased nationally by 0.05 to 1.99 per cent in the year to May 2020, according to Moody’s Investor Service.

“Mortgage delinquency rates increased in 40 Australian regions over the year to May and fell in 47 regions,” the analysts said.

“Over the next year, mortgage delinquency risks will be high in regions with large economic and labour market dependence on industries such as tourism, hospitality and retail, which have been hit hard by coronavirus disruptions.”

Three states anchored the nation’s performance with generally rising delinquency rates.

About 0.29 per cent more people were 30 days or more late on their mortgage repayments in the Northern Territory, pushing it to 2.71 per cent -- the largest increase across the country.

Victoria’s delinquency rate increased by 0.20 to 1.85 per cent -- its highest level since 2005. Meanwhile, New South Wales’ increase of 0.23 pushed its rate to 1.71 per cent -- a high not seen since 2013.

Others are benefitting from relief measures

There is a divide between the people struggling and the people coping financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

People still employed are enjoying record housing affordability, according to Moody’s Investor Service, as they spend a smaller portion of their pay to service their mortgages.

Two income households were spending 23 per cent of their monthly earnings on mortgage repayments in September, Moody’s said. This was a drop from the ten year average of 26 per cent.

“The affordability of apartments and houses improved in all capital cities over the year to September,” the analysts said.

The increase in housing affordability is largely owed to two factors.

The first has to do with property prices falling for five months straight -- though they stabilised in the most recent month.

While the second concerns the record low cost of servicing mortgages, a byproduct of relief measures introduced to help people endure the financial hardship brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Learn more about home loans

What is mortgage stress?

Mortgage stress is when you don’t have enough income to comfortably meet your monthly mortgage repayments and maintain your lifestyle. Many experts believe that mortgage stress starts when you are spending 30 per cent or more of your pre-tax income on mortgage repayments.

Mortgage stress can lead to people defaulting on their loans which can have serious long term repercussions.

The best way to avoid mortgage stress is to include at least a 2 – 3 per cent buffer in your estimated monthly repayments. If you could still make your monthly repayments comfortably at a rate of up to 8 or 9 per cent then you should be in good position to meet your obligations. If you think that a rate rise would leave you at a risk of defaulting on your loan, consider borrowing less money.

If you do find yourself in mortgage stress, talk to your bank about ways to potentially reduce your mortgage burden. Contacting a financial counsellor can also be a good idea. You can locate a free counselling service in your state by calling the national hotline: 1800 007 007 or visiting www.financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au.

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.

What percentage of income should my mortgage repayments be?

As a general rule, mortgage repayments should be less than 30 per cent of your pre-tax income to avoid falling into mortgage stress. When mortgage repayments exceed this amount it becomes hard to budget for other living expenses and your lifestyle quality may be diminished.

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.

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 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 much deposit do I need for a home loan from ANZ?

Like other mortgage lenders, ANZ often prefers a home loan deposit of 20 per cent or more of the property value when you’re applying for a home loan. It may be possible to get a home loan with a smaller deposit of 10 per cent or even 5 per cent, but there are a few reasons to consider saving a larger deposit if possible:

  • A larger deposit tells a lender that you’re a great saver, which could help increase the chances of your home loan application getting approved.
  • The more money you pay as a deposit, the less you’ll have to borrow in your home loan. This could mean paying off your loan sooner, and being charged less total interest.
  • If your deposit is less than 20 per cent of the property value, you might incur additional costs, such as Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI).

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.

How much are repayments on a $250K mortgage?

The exact repayment amount for a $250,000 mortgage will be determined by several factors including your deposit size, interest rate and the type of loan. It is best to use a mortgage calculator to determine your actual repayment size.

For example, the monthly repayments on a $250,000 loan with a 5 per cent interest rate over 30 years will be $1342. For a loan of $300,000 on the same rate and loan term, the monthly repayments will be $1610 and for a $500,000 loan, the monthly repayments will be $2684.

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.

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 do people do with a Macquarie Bank reverse?

There are a number of ways people use a Macquarie Bank reverse mortgage. Below are some reasons borrowers tend to release their home’s equity via a reverse mortgage:

  • To top up superannuation or pension income to pay for monthly bills;
  • To consolidate and repay high-interest debt like credit cards or personal loans;
  • To fund renovations, repairs or upgrades to their home
  • To help your children or grandkids through financial difficulties. 

While there are no limitations on how you can use a Macquarie reverse mortgage loan, a reverse mortgage is not right for all borrowers. Reverse mortgages compound the interest, which means you end up paying interest on your interest. They can also affect your entitlement to things like the pension It’s important to think carefully, read up and speak with your family before you apply for a reverse mortgage.

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.