Housing affordability woes might impose extra costs

Housing affordability woes might impose extra costs

Australia’s present housing affordability woes could not just impact first home buyers, but the business sector as well, according to new research from CoreLogic Australia.

CoreLogic has calculated the cost for first home buyers to enter property markets around the country, and the results show that even in the more affordable areas, it would take much more than just giving up avocado toast to save up the necessary funds for a deposit and related expenses.

Crunching the numbers:

CoreLogic starts its calculations with the 25th percentile house prices for Australia’s capital cities, to better reflect the more affordable end of the housing market where first home buyers are most likely to establish themselves.

Next, CoreLogic calculated the cost of a 5% deposit on home loans to purchase these properties, as no-deposit home loans are largely things of the past, and 5% is one of the smallest minimum deposits available from many lenders at the moment.

Of course, buying a home means paying for more than just the loan itself. CoreLogic also included the cost of stamp duty in each state (keeping in mind that some states have stamp duty exemptions below specific price thresholds), to paint a more complete picture of the cost to first home buyers.

One expense NOT included in CoreLogic’s figures is Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI) – the cost of insuring the home loan provider against loss in the event that a borrower defaults on their loan. LMI is typically required for any home loan with a deposit lower than 20% of the loan value.

Using the RateCity LMI Calculator, we’ve added our estimates of this expense to CoreLogic’s figures, and come up with the following results:

City 25th percentile price for houses, April 2017 (CoreLogic) 5% deposit + stamp duty (CoreLogic) LMI (RateCity) TOTAL
Sydney $666,000 $59,033 $23,368 $82,401
Melbourne $475,000 $24,023 $15,433 $39,456
Brisbane $390,000 $20,543 $12,671 $33,214
Adelaide $337,500 $32,921 $10,965 $43,886
Perth $403,000 $20,572 $13,093 $33,665
Hobart $275,875 $23,096 $7129 $30,225
Darwin $370,000 $26,057 $12,021 $38,078
Canberra $525,000 $41,357 $17,057 $58,414

Please note that totals are estimates only and may not reflect current market conditions. LMI calculated using the RateCity LMI Calculator, using 25th percentile price from CoreLogic and a 5% deposit. Please read the calculator’s assumptions and disclaimers.

What this means for first home buyers and businesses

According to CoreLogic head of research, Cameron Kusher, one of the biggest challenges facing first home buyers is the fact that wages and household incomes aren’t rising at the same kind of rate as property prices around Australia:

“Over the 12 months to April 2017, Sydney dwelling values have increased by 16.0% and Melbourne values are 15.3% higher.  At the same time, modelled household income data from the Australian National University (ANU) indicates that over the 12 months to March 2017 Sydney household incomes have increased by a comparatively lower 4.6% and Melbourne household incomes are 2.7% higher.”

Kusher goes on to describe how  the unaffordability of housing in Australia’s capital cities could potentially make an impact on Australian businesses in the years to come, as young people are slowly priced out of Australia’s commercial hubs, leaving businesses struggling to attract young talent in their operating areas.

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Learn more about home loans

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.

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.

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.

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 fees are there when buying a house?

Buying a home comes with ‘hidden fees’ that should be factored in when considering how much the total cost of your new home will be. These can include stamp duty, title registration costs, building inspection fees, loan establishment fee, lenders mortgage insurance (LMI), legal fees and bank valuation costs.

Tip: you can calculate your stamp duty costs as well as LMI in Rate City mortgage repayments calculator

Some of these fees can be taken out of the mix, such as LMI, if you have a big enough deposit or by asking your lender to waive establishment fees for your loan. Even so, fees can run into the thousands of dollars on top of the purchase price.

Keep this in mind when deciding if you are ready to make the move in to the property market.

How do I refinance my home loan?

Refinancing your home loan can involve a bit of paperwork but if you are moving on to a lower rate, it can save you thousands of dollars in the long-run. The first step is finding another loan on the market that you think will save you money over time or offer features that your current loan does not have. Once you have selected a couple of loans you are interested in, compare them with your current loan to see if you will save money in the long term on interest rates and fees. Remember to factor in any break fees and set up fees when assessing the cost of switching.

Once you have decided on a new loan it is simply a matter of contacting your existing and future lender to get the new loan set up. Beware that some lenders will revert your loan back to a 25 or 30 year term when you refinance which may mean initial lower repayments but may cost you more in the long run.

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. 

How much deposit will I need to buy a house?

A deposit of 20 per cent or more is ideal as it’s typically the amount a lender sees as ‘safe’. Being a safe borrower is a good position to be in as you’ll have a range of lenders to pick from, with some likely to offer up a lower interest rate as a reward. Additionally, a deposit of over 20 per cent usually eliminates the need for lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI) which can add thousands to the cost of buying your home.

While you can get a loan with as little as 5 per cent deposit, it’s definitely not the most advisable way to enter the home loan market. Banks view people with low deposits as ‘high risk’ and often charge higher interest rates as a precaution. The smaller your deposit, the more you’ll also have to pay in LMI as it works on a sliding scale dependent on your deposit size.

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.

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 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.

Is there a limit to how many times I can refinance?

There is no set limit to how many times you are allowed to refinance. Some surveyed RateCity users have refinanced up to three times.

However, if you refinance several times in short succession, it could affect your credit score. Lenders assess your credit score when you apply for new loans, so if you end up with bad credit, you may not be able to refinance if and when you really need to.

Before refinancing multiple times, consider getting a copy of your credit report and ensure your credit history is in good shape for future refinances.

I have a poor credit rating. Am I still able to get a mortgage?

Some lenders still allow you to apply for a home loan if you have impaired credit. However, you may pay a slightly higher interest rate and/or higher fees. This is to help offset the higher risk that you may default on your repayments.

I can't pick a loan. Should I apply to multiple lenders?

Applying for home loans with multiple lenders at once can affect your credit history, as multiple loan applications in short succession can make you look like a risky borrower. Comparing home loans from different lenders, assessing their features and benefits, and making one application to a preferred lender may help to improve your chances of success