Proposed APRA changes to open the door for would-be home buyers

Proposed APRA changes to open the door for would-be home buyers

Financial comparison site RateCity.com.au welcomes APRA’s proposal today to remove the current interest rate floor.

Right now, lenders are required to assess whether borrowers can afford their monthly repayments using a minimum interest rate of 7 per cent. The big four banks all use a minimum rate of 7.25 per cent.

APRA is now proposing to allow banks to set their own floor, provided they allow a 2.5 per cent buffer on the current interest rate as part of their serviceability calculations.

For many first home buyers, the move is likely to significantly boost their borrowing power.

RateCity.com.au analysis shows a family on an average household income of $109,688 would be able to borrow up to around $60,000 more if their loan was assessed at 6.25 per cent instead of 7.25 per cent.

The average single person would be able to borrow up to around $50,000 more under the same scenario.

RateCity.com.au research director Sally Tindall said the change could be more effective than an RBA rate cut for new borrowers.

“This is going to be a game changer for a lot of potential buyers who can’t quite get their home loan application across the line.

“We’re living in a very different home lending landscape than when the 7 per cent buffer came into effect.

“While the RBA today in their minutes hinted at an impending rate cut, this potential change could buy them some more time, despite the fact that it won’t affect families with existing mortgages,” she said. 

“After a record breaking 33 months of living with a cash rate at a historic low, the new norm for interest rates has changed dramatically.

“On top of this, we’ve just lived through two years of intense scrutiny from the regulator and the Royal Commission, so the hoops people have to jump through to get the green light on a loan are onerous – perhaps overly so.

“This proposed move strikes a sensible balance where prudent lending still remains front of mind for both borrowers and lenders.”

RateCity.com.au analysis shows that in 2014, when the rule was made, the average cash rate over the previous 10 years was 4.55 per cent. Today, the average cash rate over the last 10 years is now 2.74 per cent.

How interest rates have changed

 

Average cash rate over previous 10 years

Average discounted variable rate

Current average

2.74%

5.38%

Dec 2014

4.55%

6.53%

Difference

1.81%

1.15%

Source: RBA

Note: Serviceability calculations are bases on an average household income data according to ABS Census 2015/2016. Assumes one parent earning 30% of $109,688 and the other 70% with a monthly household expenditure of $3,500: Single income figure from ABS Average Weekly earnings Nov 2018, Full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings, with a monthly household expenditure of $2,000. Assumes no credit cards and no other existing debts. Calculations are estimates only.

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e.g. To see how much you could save in two years by switching mortgages,  set the slider to 2.

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Remaining loan term

The length of time it will take to pay off your current home loan, based on the currently-entered mortgage balance, monthly repayment and interest rate.

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 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 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.

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 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 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.

How can I get ANZ home loan pre-approval?

Shopping for a new home is an exciting experience and getting a pre-approval on the loan may give you the peace of mind that you are looking at properties within your budget. 

At the time of applying for the ANZ Bank home loan pre-approval, you will be required to provide proof of employment and income, along with records of your savings and debts.

An ANZ home loan pre-approval time frame is usually up to three months. However, being pre-approved doesn’t necessarily mean you will get your home loan. Other factors could lead to your home loan application being rejected, even with a prior pre-approval. Some factors include the property evaluation not meeting the bank’s criteria or a change in your financial circumstances.

You can make an application for ANZ home loan pre-approval online or call on 1800100641 Mon-Fri 8.00 am to 8.00 pm (AEST).

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. 

If I don't like my new lender after I refinance, can I go back to my previous lender?

If you wish to return to your previous lender after refinancing, you will have to go through the refinancing process again and pay a second set of discharge and upfront fees. 

Therefore, before you refinance, it’s important to weigh up the new prospective lender against your current lender in a number of areas, including fees, flexibility, customer service and interest rate.