Record rebound in home loan borrowing, but investor loans struggle to recover

Record rebound in home loan borrowing, but investor loans struggle to recover

The rebound from Australia’s first recession in almost 30 years appears to be underway as people spend record amounts on the homes they want to live in, according to the nation’s statistical agency.

The spending spree comes after interest rates were dropped to historic lows due to the coronavirus pandemic, which in turn contributed to property prices dropping for five straight months.

Owner occupier loans hit a record high

Australians looking to buy their own home secured $16.3 billion in owner occupier loans for 12,302 properties in the month of August, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said, a 13.6 per cent surge representing the largest increase since records were established 18 years ago.

The posting surpasses the previous record of 10.7 per cent in July, doubling down on a trend indicating an economic recovery is taking place in an otherwise uncertain climate. 

The result defies the expectations of a country that entered a recession when it shrank by 7 per cent in the June quarter, Craig James said, chief economist at CommSec.

“This is not your typical recession … Aussies are embracing housing like never before,” he said.

“Not only have home loans posted record gains in July and August but the value of loans has never been higher.”

But backed up applications mean the snapshot is months behind, Amanda Seneviratne said, head of finance and wealth at the ABS. 

“Lenders are reporting to us that current processing times mean that August commitments reflect customer demand in June and early July,” she said, “prior to Victoria imposing stage 3 and stage 4 restrictions.”

The owner occupier results were a standout figure in the data series -- propped up by first home buyers and an increase in renovations -- and they lifted up the general average. 

Overall loan commitments were up 12.6 per cent, according to the seasonally adjusted data, but they were held back by the underwhelming performance of investor and personal loans.

Investor loans begin to recover, personal loans struggle

The news isn’t good for everyone. Investor loans are undertaking a modest recovery from a low not seen since 2002.

After dropping to $4.1 billion in May, the value of investor loans increased by 9.3 per cent in a month to $5 billion in August.

It wasn’t the only category posting lacklustre results. Personal fixed term loans dropped in value by 12.5 per cent in August to $1.4 billion, mostly due to a fall in people buying new cars. 

New car sales have been on the decline for the last 30 months in a row, but the industry is hailing a government pledge to make securing finance easier as a possible turnaround.

Government incentives drive first home purchases and renovations

First home buyers, some of which likely aided by a $400 million government scheme, accounted for almost a third of owner occupier home approvals, reaching a high last seen immediately after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). 

About 12,302 home loans were secured by first home buyers in August, an increase of 17.7 compared to the previous month. 

“New loan commitments for owner occupier housing rose in all states and territories, except the Northern Territory,” the ATO’s Ms Seneviratne said. 

“The largest increases in the value of new loan commitments were in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.”

The result, accounting for 31 per cent of owner occupier commitments and a decade high, was possibly fueled by the federal government’s first home loan deposit scheme

The scheme makes it possible for people to secure a property with a 5 per cent deposit and not have to pay lenders mortgage insurance, a tax typically levied on deposits less than 20 per cent. This is because the government secures the remaining 15 per cent difference.

A recent report found the scheme makes it possible for first home buyers to enter the market four years quicker on average. And the scheme has since been expanded, with a further 10,000 placements being made available for new build properties with increased price caps.

Time to renovate as we social distance

People stuck at home due to social distancing measures and the lure of a government grant for some may have contributed to an increase in loans secured for renovations. 

People spent $784 million renovating their homes in August, an increase of 7 per cent over the previous month. 

The result eclipsed pre-COVID renovations and reached a high not seen since April 2016. 

The federal government is incentivising renovations from $150,000 to $750,000 to residential properties by offering a further $25,000 to eligible applicants under its Homebuilder grant, possibly explaining some of the performance boost.

Data from Suncorp Bank reveals there was an increase in renovation loans over $150,000. Of the loans issued for renovations during the last financial year, 31 per cent were over $150,000 -- a rise of more than 10 per cent compared to the year before.

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Learn more about home loans

Does Australia have no-deposit home loans?

Australia no longer has no-deposit home loans – or 100 per cent home loans as they’re also known – because they’re regarded as too risky.

However, some lenders allow some borrowers to take out mortgages with a 5 per cent deposit.

Another option is to source a deposit from elsewhere – either by using a parental guarantee or by drawing out equity from another property.

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.

What is a low-deposit home loan?

A low-deposit home loan is a mortgage where you need to borrow more than 80 per cent of the purchase price – in other words, your deposit is less than 20 per cent of the purchase price.

For example, if you want to buy a $500,000 property, you’ll need a low-deposit home loan if your deposit is less than $100,000 and therefore you need to borrow more than $400,000.

As a general rule, you’ll need to pay LMI (lender’s mortgage insurance) if you take out a low-deposit home loan. You can use this LMI calculator to estimate your LMI payment.

How will Real Time Ratings help me find a new home loan?

The home loan market is complex. With almost 4,000 different loans on offer, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to work out which loans work for you.

That’s where Real Time RatingsTM can help. Our system automatically filters out loans that don’t fit your requirements and ranks the remaining loans based on your individual loan requirements and preferences.

Best of all, the ratings are calculated in real time so you know you’re getting the most current information.

Who offers 40 year mortgages?

Home loans spanning 40 years are offered by select lenders, though the loan period is much longer than a standard 30-year home loan. You're more likely to find a maximum of 35 years, such as is the case with Teacher’s Mutual Bank

Currently, 40 year home loan lenders in Australia include AlphaBeta Money, BCU, G&C Mutual Bank, Pepper, and Sydney Mutual Bank.

Even though these lengthier loans 35 to 40 year loans do exist on the market, they are not overwhelmingly popular, as the extra interest you pay compared to a 30-year loan can be over $100,000 or more.

Do mortgage brokers need a consumer credit license?

In Australia, mortgage brokers are defined by law as being credit service or assistance providers, meaning that they help borrowers connect with lenders. Mortgage brokers may not always need a consumer credit license however if they’re operating solo they will need an Australian Credit License (ACL). Further, they may also need to comply with requirements asking them to mention their license number in full.

Some mortgage brokers can be “credit representatives”, or franchisees of a mortgage aggregator. In this case, if the aggregator has a license, the mortgage broker need not have one. The reasoning for this is that the franchise agreement usually requires mortgage brokers to comply with the laws applicable to the aggregator. If you’re speaking to a mortgage broker, you can ask them if they receive commissions from lenders, which is a good indicator that they need to be licensed. Consider requesting their license details if they don’t give you the details beforehand. 

You should remember that such a license protects you if you’re given incorrect or misleading advice that results in a home loan application rejection or any financial loss. Brokers are regulated by the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC), as per the National Consumer Credit Protection (NCCP) Act. 

What are the responsibilities of a mortgage broker?

Mortgage brokers act as the go-between for borrowers looking for a home loan and the lenders offering the loan. They offer personalised advice to help borrowers choose the right home loan for their needs.

In Australia, mortgage brokers are required by law to carry an Australian Credit License (ACL) if they offer credit assistance services. Which is the legal term for guidance regarding the different kinds of credit offered by lenders, including home loan mortgages. They may not need this license if they are working for an aggregator, for instance, as a franchisee. In both these situations, they need to comply with the regulations laid down by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

These regulations, which are stipulated by Australian legislation, require mortgage brokers to comply with what are called “responsible lending” and “best interest” obligations. Responsible lending obligations mean brokers have to suggest “suitable” home loans. This means loans that you can easily qualify for,  actually meet your needs, and don’t prove unnecessarily challenging for you.

Starting 1 January 2021, mortgage brokers must comply with best interest obligations in addition to responsible lending obligations. These require mortgage brokers to act in the best interest of their customers and also requires them to prioritise their customers’ interests over their own. For instance, a mortgage broker may not recommend a lender who gives them a commission if that lender’s home loan offer does not benefit that particular customer.

How to break up with your mortgage broker

If you find a mortgage broker giving you generic advice or trying to sell you a competitive offer from an unsuitable lender, you might be better off  breaking up with the mortgage broker and consulting someone else. Breaking up with a mortgage broker can be done over the phone, or via email. You can also raise a complaint, either with the broker’s aggregator or with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority as necessary.

As licensed industry professionals, mortgage brokers have the responsibility of giving you accurate advice so that you know what to expect when you apply for a home loan. You may have approached the mortgage broker, for instance, because you have questions about the terms of a home loan a lender offered you. 

You should remember that mortgage brokers are obliged by law to act in your best interests and as part of complying with The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) regulations. If you feel you didn’t get the right advice from the mortgage broker, or that you lost money as a result of accepting the broker’s suggestions regarding a lender or home loan offer, you can file a complaint with the ASIC and seek compensation. 

When you first speak to a mortgage broker, consider asking them about their Lender Panel, which is the list of lenders they usually recommend and who may pay them a commission. This information can help you decide if the advice they give you has anything to do with the remuneration they may receive from one or more lenders.

How do I take out a low-deposit home loan?

If you want to take out a low-deposit home loan, it might be a good idea to consult a mortgage broker who can give you professional financial advice and organise the mortgage for you.

Another way to take out a low-deposit home loan is to do your own research with a comparison website like RateCity. Once you’ve identified your preferred mortgage, you can apply through RateCity or go direct to the lender.

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. 

Do other comparison sites offer the same service?

Real Time RatingsTM is the only online system that ranks the home loan market based on your personal borrowing preferences. Until now, home loans have been rated based on outdated data. Our system is unique because it reacts to changes as soon as we update our database.

How does Real Time Ratings work?

Real Time RatingsTM looks at your individual home loan requirements and uses this information to rank every applicable home loan in our database out of five.

This score is based on two main factors – cost and flexibility.

Cost is calculated by looking at the interest rates and fees over the first five years of the loan.

Flexibility is based on whether a loan offers features such as an offset account, redraw facility and extra repayments.

Real Time RatingsTM also includes the following assumptions:

  • Costs are calculated on the current variable rate however they could change in the future.
  • Loans are assumed to be principal and interest
  • Fixed-rate loans with terms greater than five years are still assessed on a five-year basis, so 10-year fixed loans are assessed as being only five years’ long.
  • Break costs are not included.

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