RBA fires off an emergency rate cut, Westpac passes it on in full

Find out who is passing on the cut and by how much in RateCity’s live rate cut list

The RBA has been forced to make an emergency rate cut today, slashing official rates to a new record low of 0.50 per cent.

The big question is how much banks will pass on to homeowners.

Already, Westpac, Homestar Finance and Athena have announced they will pass on the full 0.25 per cent to new and existing variable rate customers. This will see Westpac’s lowest variable rate drop to 2.93 per cent and Homestar’s lowest variable rate fall to 2.44 per cent – a new market low.

Reduce Home Loans will pass on a 0.25 per cent cut, but only for new variable rate customers, which also takes its lowest rate to 2.44 per cent. Find out who has moved in RateCity’s live rate cut list.

Sally Tindall, research director at RateCity.com.au, said: “Westpac should be commended for passing on a full cut to their variable rate customers. Hopefully this will prompt the other big four banks to follow suit.”

“This decision will save the average Westpac home loan customer around $55 a month or $662 a year.

“Some banks may choose not to pass on the full cut, due to pressure on their profit margins. Variable rate customers should call their bank and find out what they intend to do.

“If borrowers aren’t happy with the cut their bank is passing on, they can choose to take their business walking.

“Switching lenders in this competitive environment is likely to secure a far bigger cut than the 0.25 per cent on offer from the RBA.

“A number of smaller lenders have already committed to cutting their rates by the full 0.25 per cent, sending variable rates to a new low of 2.44 per cent,” she said.

Potential savings

  0.25% cut 0.15% cut 0.10% cut
Loan size Mthly savings Annual savings Mthly savings Annual savings Mthly

savings

Annual

savings

$400,000 $56 $675 $34 $406 $23 $271
$500,000 $70 $843 $42 $508 $28 $339
$750,000 $105 $1,265 $63 $761 $42 $508
$1,000,000 $141 $1,686 $85 $1,015 $56 $678

Source: RateCity.com.au. Assumes an owner occupier paying principal and interest over 30 years. This scenario is based on the current average rate of 3.73 per cent.

Who’s moved?

Lender Cuts New lowest variable rate
Westpac 0.25% 2.93%
Homestar Finance 0.25% 2.44%
Reduce Home Loans 0.25% 2.44%
Athena 0.25% 2.59%

Source: RateCity.com.au

Has your bank cut your rate? Here’s what to do now

  • Call your bank and ask them whether they are cutting your rate, by how much and when.
  • Check what other lenders are offering. Even if your bank is passing on the cut, you might find a better deal from a competitor.
  • If your bank doesn’t pass on the cut in full, or you discover you’re paying too much, consider switching. The beauty of a variable home loan rate is that you’re well within your right to take your business elsewhere.

How to put a rate cut back into your home loan

  • Find out if your bank is passing on the rate cut, and by how much.
  • Work out what your new monthly repayments will be and what this means for your budget.
  • If you decide to put that money back into your mortgage, call your lender up and ask them to keep your monthly repayments the same.

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

Advertisement

RateCity

The money talks which you don't need to avoid any more

Subscribe to our newsletter so we can send you awesome offers and discounts

Advertisement

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.

How much of the RBA rate cut do lenders pass on to borrowers?

When the Reserve Bank of Australia cuts its official cash rate, there is no guarantee lenders will then pass that cut on to lenders by way of lower interest rates. 

Sometimes lenders pass on the cut in full, sometimes they partially pass on the cut, sometimes they don’t at all. When they don’t, they often defend the decision by saying they need to balance the needs of their shareholders with the needs of their borrowers. 

As the attached graph shows, more recent cuts have seen less lenders passing on the full RBA interest rate cut; the average lender was more likely to pass on about two-thirds of the 25 basis points cut to its borrowers.  image002

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 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 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 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 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.

How do I know if I have to pay LMI?

Each lender has its own policies, but as a general rule you will have to pay lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI) if your loan-to-value ratio (LVR) exceeds 80 per cent. This applies whether you’re taking out a new home loan or you’re refinancing.

If you’re looking to buy a property, you can use this LMI calculator to work out how much you’re likely to be charged in LMI.

What happens when you default on your mortgage?

A mortgage default occurs when you are 90 days or more behind on your mortgage repayments. Late repayments will often incur a late fee on top of the amount owed which will continue to gather interest along with the remaining principal amount.

If you do default on a mortgage repayment you should try and catch up in next month’s payment. If this isn’t possible, and missing payments is going to become a regular issue, you need to contact your lender as soon as possible to organise an alternative payment schedule and discuss further options.

You may also want to talk to a financial counsellor. 

How personalised is my rating?

Real Time Ratings produces instant scores for loan products and updates them based what you tell us about what you’re looking for in a loan. In that sense, we believe the ratings are as close as you get to personalised; the more you tell us, the more we customise to ratings to your needs. Some borrowers value flexibility, while others want the lowest cost loan. Your preferences will be reflected in the rating. 

We also take a shorter term, more realistic view of how long borrowers hold onto their loan, which gives you a better idea about the true borrowing costs. We take your loan details and calculate how much each of the relevent loans would cost you on average each month over the next five years. We assess the overall flexibility of each loan and give you an easy indication of which ones are likely to adjust to your needs over time. 

How often is your data updated?

We work closely with lenders to get updates as quick as possible, with updates made the same day wherever possible.

How can I get a home loan with no deposit?

Following the Global Financial Crisis, no-deposit loans, as they once used to be known, have largely been removed from the market. Now, if you wish to enter the market with no deposit, you will require a property of your own to secure a loan against or the assistance of a guarantor.

What is 'principal and interest'?

‘Principal and interest’ loans are the most common type of home loans on the market. The principal part of the loan is the initial sum lent to the customer and the interest is the money paid on top of this, at the agreed interest rate, until the end of the loan.

By reducing the principal amount, the total of interest charged will also become smaller until eventually the debt is paid off in full.