Will taking a loan repayment pause during COVID-19 affect my credit score?

Will taking a loan repayment pause during COVID-19 affect my credit score?

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has today announced that customers’ credit scores won’t be affected if they need to defer their loan repayments for up to six months due to COVID-19, provided they were up to date with their repayments beforehand.

The guarantee applies not only to repayment pauses on home loans, but also on other credit products such as credit cards and personal loans.

The industry-wide agreement is good news for diligent customers who have suddenly found it impossible to keep up with the bills after losing their job or having their income severely reduced.

ABA Chief Executive, Anna Bligh, said: “Australia’s banks are here to support customers who have lost their jobs or significantly lost income because of COVID-19… Customers in these circumstances should not have to worry about their credit rating as well.

For customers who were already behind in their loan repayments, the ABA has said banks will determine how to report the information once the repayment pause has ended, and opt to report nothing during the pause.

A relief for your credit history

CEO of the Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA) Mike Laing believes people shouldn’t get overly worried about their credit score during COVID-19.

“Lenders are very aware this is a difficult time for a lot of Australians who, in normal circumstances, are very good at keeping up with their repayments, and they’ll take this into consideration,” says Laing.

He says when people go to apply for their next loan, the reality is lenders will look at a range of factors when assessing whether or not to approve a loan or a credit card, including bigger factors such as income and any outstanding debts.

  • While customers who have been granted a loan deferral won’t have their credit score impacted during COVID-19, people that miss repayments without an arrangement in place are still likely to have it reported to the credit agencies.

When the financial pressure gets too much

“If you are in need of assistance it’s important you contact your bank as soon as possible, with your first port of call being the website or the smart phone app due to the very high volume of calls coming into call centres,” Ms Bligh said. 

Laing says people having trouble making contact with their bank, shouldn’t worry, provided they have tried to reach out.  

“In current extra-ordinary circumstances, consumers may experience long delays in getting through to a lender. They won’t be disadvantaged by that. If they are eligible for a repayment pause, then a lender will backdate it”, he said.

Laing also recommends using credit sparingly at this time. “If you are under financial pressure, it’s best to only use your available credit as a last resort – and repay it as soon as you are able,” he said.

Tips for Aussies struggling to meet repayments

 If you can’t make a repayment because of COVID-19:

  • Talk to your bank before you miss a repayment, rather than after when damage might already be done to your credit report.
  • Contact your bank via their website or phone app. If you can’t reach them, try contacting them by email or on social media. Lenders are likely to backdate any repayment pauses if you have tried to make contact.
  • Before you pause your mortgage, ask your bank for a rate reduction to help you keep up with the repayments. Repayment pauses can provide some much-needed relief but they are likely to be costly in the long run.
  • If you are getting charged interest on your credit card, consider switching to a low rate card.
  • Try and avoid adding to the problem (where possible). If you have a credit card, you can ask your lender to lower the limit to something you know you can manage.
  • When you do get some money coming back in, try and clear your debt as quickly as possible. 
  • If you need independent help, try the National Debt Hotline: 1800 007 007

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Learn more about home loans

Can I apply for an ANZ non-resident home loan? 

You may be eligible to apply for an ANZ non-resident home loan only if you meet the following two conditions:

  1. You hold a Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa or its predecessor, the Temporary Skilled Work (subclass 457) visa.
  2. Your job is included in the Australian government’s Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List. 

However, non-resident home loan applications may need Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval in addition to meeting ANZ’s Mortgage Credit Requirements. Also, they may not be eligible for loans that require paying for Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI). As a result, you may not be able to borrow more than 80 per cent of your home’s value. However, you can apply as a co-borrower with your spouse if they are a citizen of either Australia or New Zealand, or are a permanent resident.

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).

How long does Bankwest take to approve home loans?

Full approval for a home loan usually involves a property valuation, which, Bankwest suggests, can take “a week or two”. As a result, getting your home loan approved may take longer. However, you may get full approval within this time if you applied for and received conditional approval, sometimes called a pre-approval, from Bankwest before finalising the home you want to buy.  

Another way of speeding up approvals can be by completing, signing, and submitting your home loan application digitally. Essentially, you give the bank or your mortgage broker a copy of your home’s sale contract and then complete the rest of the steps online. Bankwest has claimed this cuts the approval time to less than four days, although this may only happen if your income and credit history can be verified easily, or if your home’s valuation doesn’t take time.

What is a credit file?

A comprehensive summary of your credit history from an authorised credit reporting agency.

It includes your credit details, credit taken in the last five years, any default payments or credit infringements, arrears, repayment history, bankruptcy filings and a list of credit applications (including unapproved credit applications) in addition to your personal details.

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 is a bad credit home loan?

A bad credit home loan is a mortgage for people with a low credit score. Lenders regard bad credit borrowers as riskier than ‘vanilla’ borrowers, so they tend to charge higher interest rates for bad credit home loans.

If you want a bad credit home loan, you’re more likely to get approved by a small non-bank lender than by a big four bank or another mainstream lender.

Why should I get an ING home loan pre-approval?

When you apply for an ING home loan pre-approval, you might be required to provide proof of employment and income, savings, as well as details on any on-going debts. The lender could also make a credit enquiry against your name. If you’re pre-approved, you will know how much money ING is willing to lend you. 

Please note, however, that a pre-approval is nothing more than an idea of your ability to borrow funds and is not the final approval. You should receive the home loan approval  only after finalising the property and submitting a formal loan application to the lender, ING. Additionally, a pre-approval does not stay valid indefinitely, since your financial circumstances and the home loan market could change overnight.

 

 

Does Westpac offer loan maternity leave options?

Having a baby or planning for one can bring about a lot of changes in your life, including to the hip pocket. You may need to re-do the budget to make sure you can afford the upcoming expenses, especially if one partner is taking parental leave to look after the little one. 

Some families find it difficult to meet their home loan repayment obligations during this period. Flexible options, such as the Westpac home loan maternity leave offerings, have been put together to help reduce the pressure of repayments during parental leave.

Westpac offers a couple of choices, depending on your circumstances:

  • Parental Leave Mortgage Repayment Reduction: You could get your home loan repayments reduced for up to 12 months for home loans with a term longer than a year. 
  • Mortgage Repayment Pause: You can pause repayments while on maternity leave, provided you’ve made additional repayments earlier.

When applying for a home loan while pregnant, Westpac has said it will recognise paid maternity leave and back-to-work salaries. All you need is a letter from your employer verifying your return-to-work date and the nature of your employment. Your partner’s income, government entitlements, savings and investments will may help your application.

Can I get a NAB home loan on casual employment?

While many lenders consider casual employees as high-risk borrowers because of their fluctuating incomes, there are a few specialist lenders, such as NAB, which may provide home loans to individuals employed on a casual basis. A NAB home loan for casual employment is essentially a low doc home loan specifically designed to help casually employed individuals who may be unable to provide standard financial documents. However, since such loans are deemed high risk compared to regular home loans, you could be charged higher rates and receive lower maximum LVRs (Loan to Value Ratio, which is the loan amount you can borrow against the value of the property).

While applying for a home loan as a casual employee, you will likely be asked to demonstrate that you've been working steadily and might need to provide group certificates for the last two years. It is at the lender’s discretion to pick either of the two group certificates and consider that to be your income. If you’ve not had the same job for several years, providing proof of income could be a bit of a challenge for you. In this scenario, some lenders may rely on your year to date (YTD) income, and instead calculate your yearly income from that.

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.

Can I refinance if I have other products bundled with my home loan?

If your home loan was part of a package deal that included access to credit cards, transaction accounts or term deposits from the same lender, switching all of these over to a new lender can seem daunting. However, some lenders offer to manage part of this process for you as an incentive to refinance with them – contact your lender to learn more about what they offer.

What is an ombudsman?

An complaints officer – previously referred to as an ombudsman -looks at formal complaints from customers about their credit providers, and helps to find a fair and independent solution to these problems.

These services are handled by the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, a non-profit government organisation that addresses and resolves financial disputes between customers and financial service providers.