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Are there special home loans for public servants?

The Australian Public Service is one of the country’s largest employers. With public servants typically earning more on average than most others many home loan lenders count public servants among those professionals more likely to repay their loans.

However, lenders don't offer any specific loans for public servants. Many bureaucrats also aren’t in the high-income bracket which means they may not meet the minimum annual income threshold to qualify for special discounts. Top-level public servants, on the other hand, can earn a much higher salary than those working at the middle and lower levels and may be eligible for such discounts.

What home loan discounts are available for public servants?

If you’re one of the over 2 million public servants in Australia chances are you’re working in the Commonwealth public service, a state or territory government department, or a local council. Public service jobs range from topmost level roles like an executive agency head or a departmental secretary in the Government of Australia to lower-level roles such as research scientist, medical professional or meat inspector. What you earn as a public servant can vary greatly with your specific role. Your income in turn affects the kind of deals you can expect from home loan lenders.

Suppose you make over $200,000 a year, which may be more than twice the median wage for a public servant but is not uncommon. Add to this, public servants are usually seen as borrowers posing a lower risk of failing to repay their loans. In this instance, lenders may offer you the same discounted interest rates offered to other high-income professionals such as doctors. The exact discount can depend on other factors, such as the amount you plan to borrow. 

For instance, some lenders offer professionals seen as low-risk borrowers an interest rate that is at least 1 per cent lower than their standard variable rate (SVR), irrespective of the loan amount. So if you borrow over $1,000,000, you could get a rate that is as much as 1.5 per cent lower than the SVR. Don’t forget that your credit rating can affect the amount you can borrow or even whether your loan application will be approved, so check it often.

Even if you don’t earn over $200,000, lenders may offer you attractive options based on the amount you’re borrowing. For instance, if you’re in line for a promotion that means a  pay increase, you may feel confident about buying a home that seems expensive based on your current income. If you can show a lender that such a change in your financial situation will mean you can repay the larger loan. It may even mean you would be eligible for discounts given to those borrowing higher amounts such as $500,000 or more. And since the public service comprises a range of professions, lenders will probably look at your exact job profile when verifying your income. For instance, you could be a solicitor in government service, and your income may not be as high as that of a solicitor in private practice. For this reason, lenders may not offer you the same deals.

What options do public servants have if they don’t qualify for home loan discounts?

Apart from the discounts offered by lenders, you should consider checking if you’re eligible for government grants such as the Commonwealth HomeBuilder Grant. While this grant doesn’t provide a large amount, it can lower the amount you need to borrow and, consequently, the cost of your home loan. 

The HomeBuilder grant, which is among the Australian government’s economic responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, offers $25,000 to eligible borrowers. This amount could be used to either buy a new home or significantly renovate your current one. However, your home must be worth $750,000 or less or if renovating the cost of renovation needs to be between $150,000 and $750,000. The eligibility criteria for the HomeBuilder grant can vary depending on your location. Still, you need to have signed your home buying agreement or contract for renovation between 4 June 2020 and 31 December 2020. 

In most states and territories, you may be eligible for the HomeBuilder grant as an individual if your taxable income was below $125,000 in either 2018-19 or 2019-2020 financial years. If you’re in a couple, you and your partner may be eligible to apply for the grant if you together earned less than $200,000 in either of those financial years. Consider checking your state’s revenue department webpage for more details on qualifying for the HomeBuilder grant. You can also check whether your state offers its grant complementing the Commonwealth one.

You can also check if your state or territory offers grants or concessions to first-time homeowners such as the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) or the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS). In Tasmania, for instance, eligible individuals can get an FHOG worth as much as $20,000. Tasmania also offers eligible first-time homeowners a 50 per cent concession on property transfer duty if they buy a home that’s value doesn’t exceed $400,000. Check what your state or territory offers by checking their revenue website.

The FHLDS, on the other hand, is a scheme which allows eligible home loan applicants to pay a deposit as low as 5% without paying for Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI), rather than the  20% stipulated by lenders. As part of the scheme, the government acts as a limited guarantor for the home loan. And if approved, they underwrite as much as 15 per cent of the value of the property. This scheme, however, is only available through a limited number of lenders, and you may not qualify if you have savings that cover 20 per cent of your home’s value. This scheme is also only open to individuals making less than $125,000 and couples with a total income below $200,000.

Are there limits on how large a home loan public servants can borrow?

While lenders may relax some home loan terms for public servants, the amount they are willing to lend still depends entirely on the applicant’s borrowing power and the lender’s relevant policies. Even if you’re a reasonably well-to-do government employee, you may not be allowed to borrow more than five times your annual income. Again, lenders will seek to verify and estimate your income based on your recent tax returns. As a public servant, you may also need to check if service rules affect the amount of debt you can take on, compared to your earnings.

Many lenders may also restrict your home loan amount to no more than 80% of the value of the home you’re planning to buy. If you want to borrow more than 80%, lenders may ask you to pay for LMI, which allows them to recover any losses they incur if you fail to pay your home loan back. The only exception to this rule will be if you’re applying to a lender offering the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, provided you qualify.

You also need to consider your financial circumstances and other debts which will affect your borrowing power.

For instance, lenders may look at your spending patterns to calculate the amount you can reasonably set aside every month or week for repaying the loan. Suppose you have a credit card and are currently also paying off a car loan. This can suggest to a lender that you can’t afford to make any large repayments, at least not until your credit card debt or your car loan is paid off in full. Accordingly, the lender may recommend that you borrow a smaller amount.

How can public servants get cheaper home loans?

As a public servant, you may find yourself not earning enough to qualify for interest rate discounts but earning more than the $125,000 income cut off for most government grants. In such cases, your only option may be to try and bring down the costs of your home loan. For instance, if you can put up a 20% deposit, borrowing the remaining 80% may only require you to pay the lender’s standard variable rate as interest. You won’t have to pay for LMI either. 

If you’re new in your job as a public servant, you can check if lenders will offer you a guarantor home loan, provided someone in your family can guarantee the loan will be repaid. If you qualify for a guarantor loan, you may be able to borrow more than 80%, without needing to pay for LMI or a higher interest rate. You can compare home loan offers online to see which lender may offer you the lowest rate, or consult a mortgage broker about finding a suitable lender. 

An alternative may be to find a lender offering a home loan with a fixed interest rate. This can help you plan your home loan repayments more easily, and keep them steady. However, you may lose out on savings you can make with a variable interest rate which can decrease if the home loan market slows down. If you decide to switch between a fixed and variable rate lenders may charge an additional fee. Especially if you choose to switch from a fixed rate before the fixed period has ended.

If you’re applying for a home loan when you’re anticipating a promotion or a pay rise, you may be tempted to go for an interest-only home loan, which then reverts to larger payments at a later time. This may not be the right option if your ability to repay in the future is affected by adverse circumstances. For instance, public servants’ salaries were frozen this year to keep government expenses low during the Coronavirus pandemic. If you were paying off an interest-only home loan and waiting for a pay rise before switching to principal-plus-interest repayments, you may find that difficult now with the pay freeze.

Can a mortgage broker help public servants get better home loan deals?

Despite the convenience offered by online home loan comparisons, many people still prefer the personalised service offered by Australian mortgage brokers.

Even if a mortgage broker can’t point you to home loans tailored specifically for public servants, they may be able to suggest lenders offering home loans that fit your financial circumstances better. Given how few home loan choices there are for public servants, you may find a broker’s industry experience useful in connecting you to the right lender. You can also save a lot of valuable time by consulting a mortgage broker rather than speaking to various lenders directly.

Brokers generally won’t charge you a consulting fee as they earn a commission from the lender for recommending a home loan. If you’re not sure about the lenders the broker is showing you you should ask about their Lender Panel, which is the list of preferred lenders whom they receive commissions from and usually recommend. This can help you confirm if the mortgage broker is indeed offering you choices based on your needs. You can also request a written quote from the broker as well, which you may then be able to use to negotiate a better deal with your preferred lender.

Frequently asked questions

How do I apply for a home improvement loan?

When you want to renovate your home, you may need to take out a loan to cover the costs. You could apply for a home improvement loan, which is a personal loan that you use to cover the costs of your home renovations. There is no difference between applying for this type of home improvement loan and applying for a standard personal loan. It would be best to check and compare the features, fees and details of the loan before applying. 

Besides taking out a home improvement loan, you could also:

  1. Use the equity in your house: Equity is the difference between your property’s value and the amount you still owe on your home loan. You may be able to access this equity by refinancing your home loan and then using it to finance your home improvement.  Speak with your lender or a mortgage broker about accessing your equity.
  2. Utilise the redraw facility of your home loan: Check whether the existing home loan has a redraw facility. A redraw facility allows you to access additional funds you’ve repaid into your home loan. Some lenders offer this on variable rate home loans but not on fixed. If this option is available to you, contact your lender to discuss how to access it.
  3. Apply for a construction loan: A construction loan is typically used when constructing a new property but can also be used as a home renovation loan. You may find that a construction loan is a suitable option as it enables you to draw funds as your renovation project progresses. You can compare construction home loans online or speak to a mortgage broker about taking out such a loan.
  4. Look into government grants: Check whether there are any government grants offered when you need the funds and whether you qualify. Initiatives like the HomeBuilder Grant were offered by the Federal Government for a limited period until April 2021. They could help fund your renovations either in full or just partially.  

Can I take a personal loan after a home loan?

Are you struggling to pay the deposit for your dream home? A personal loan can help you pay the deposit. The question that may arise in your mind is can I take a home loan after a personal loan, or can you take a personal loan at the same time as a home loan, as it is. The answer is that, yes, provided you can meet the general eligibility criteria for both a personal loan and a home loan, your application should be approved. Those eligibility criteria may include:

  • Higher-income to show repayment capability for both the loans
  • Clear credit history with no delays in bill payments or defaults on debts
  • Zero or minimal current outstanding debt
  • Some amount of savings
  • Proven rent history will be positively perceived by the lenders

A personal loan after or during a home loan may impact serviceability, however, as the numbers can seriously add up. Every loan you avail of increases your monthly installments and the amount you use to repay the personal loan will be considered to lower the money available for the repayment of your home loan.

As to whether you can get a personal loan after your home loan, the answer is a very likely "yes", though it does come with a caveat: as long as you can show sufficient income to repay both the loans on time, you should be able to get that personal loan approved. A personal loan can also help to improve your credit score showing financial discipline and responsibility, which may benefit you with more favorable terms for your home loan.

What is a mortgage rate?

The interest rate on a home loan is sometimes called the mortgage rate. This percentage indicates how much interest the lender will charge you with each home loan repayment. Your interest rate is effectively the “cost” of “buying” the money you’re using to buy a property – the higher your mortgage rate, the more your home loan repayments may cost.

Using a home loan calculator, you can estimate how much your home loan repayments may cost, based on your mortgage rate, loan term, and loan amount. This may also be affected by whether you’re making principal and interest repayments or interest-only repayments, if you have a fixed rate or variable rate mortgage, and any fees and other charges that may apply.

What is a home loan?

A home loan is a finance product that allows a home buyer to borrow a large sum of money from a lender for the purchase of a residential property. The home is then put up as "security" or "collateral" on the loan, giving the lender the right to repossess the property in the case that the borrower fails to repay their loan.

Once you take out a home loan, you'll need to repay the amount borrowed, plus interest, in regular instalments over a predetermined period of time.

The interest you're charged on each mortgage repayment is based on your remaining loan amount, also known as your loan principal. The rate at which interest is charged on your home loan principal is expressed as a percentage.

Different home loan products charge different interest rates and fees, and offer a range of different features to suit a variety of buyers’ needs.

Is the lowest home loan rate always the cheapest?

The home loan with the lowest interest rate may not always be the cheapest mortgage option for you. Sometimes a home loan with a low interest rate may charge high fees, which may cost more in total than a mortgage with a higher interest rate and no fees.

Consider checking the comparison rate, which combines interest and standard fees, to get a better idea of the overall cost of different home loan options.

Can you borrow the deposit for a home loan?

Most lenders will want the majority of your home loan deposit to be made up of ‘genuine savings’ which is income earned from your job. While a small number of lenders may let you use a personal loan or a credit card to help cover the cost of your deposit, this may potentially cost you more in interest, and put your finances at higher risk.

If you haven’t saved a full deposit, it may be possible to effectively borrow the deposit for a mortgage with the help of a guarantor. This is usually a parent of other family member who guarantees your mortgage with the equity in their own property.

It may also be possible to borrow the money for a home loan deposit from a family member (e.g. the Bank of Mum & Dad) or a friend, provided you draw up a formal legal agreement to pay this money back, showing your mortgage lender that you’re taking responsibility.

How do you find cheap home loans?

With so many interest rate options and repayment types available, finding the cheapest home loan may depend on the type of loan you choose.

Whether you’re looking for an owner-occupier or investor loan, with interest-only or principal and interest repayments, on a fixed or variable interest rate, the cheapest home loan rate available may vary greatly.

One way to find the cheapest option for you is to narrow down your search and compare the options that best suit your individual requirements. RateCity’s home loan comparison tables can help you get started on your search and take the hassle out of shopping around.

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.

How do you qualify for a CBA home loan with casual employment?

Qualifying for a home loan without a full-time job may be challenging, but it can be done. The first step is to understand how a CBA home loan is assessed when you have casual employment.

Most lenders will assess your expenses and savings while checking your loan eligibility, checking on factors crucial to home loan approval, such as if your bills are paid on time and what your credit score presently looks like. 

Your income can be one of the most critical factors to determine your final approved home loan amount. As such, you’ll need to provide payslip copies to lenders to assist them in assessing your income during the loan tenure, regardless of your employment status, full-time, part-time, or otherwise.

Casual employees will want to be casually employed for at least 12 months to be eligible for a home loan. Alternatively, you want to have worked as a permanent casual worker (working for a fixed number of hours per week) for at least one month, or you should have been in your current job for a minimum of three months (if the hours are irregular) to be eligible for the loan.

How much deposit do I need for a home loan from ANZ?

Like other mortgage lenders, ANZ often prefers a home loan deposit of 20 per cent or more of the property value when you’re applying for a home loan. It may be possible to get a home loan with a smaller deposit of 10 per cent or even 5 per cent, but there are a few reasons to consider saving a larger deposit if possible:

  • A larger deposit tells a lender that you’re a great saver, which could help increase the chances of your home loan application getting approved.
  • The more money you pay as a deposit, the less you’ll have to borrow in your home loan. This could mean paying off your loan sooner, and being charged less total interest.
  • If your deposit is less than 20 per cent of the property value, you might incur additional costs, such as Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI).

What are the different types of home loan interest rates?

A home loan interest rate is used to calculate how much you’ll pay the lender, usually annually, above the amount you borrow. It’s what the lenders charge you for them lending you money and will impact the total amount you’ll pay over the life of your home loan. 

Having understood what are home loan rates in general, here are the two types you usually have with a home loan:

Fixed rates

These interest rates remain constant for a specific period and are a good option if you’re a first-time buyer or if you’re looking for a fixed monthly repayment. One possible downside of a fixed rate is that it may be higher than a variable rate. Also, you don’t benefit from any lowering of interest rates in the market. On the flip side, if rates go up, your rate won’t change, possibly saving you money.

Variable rates

With variable interest rates, the lender can change them at any time. This change can be based on economic conditions or other reasons. Changes in interest rates could be beneficial if your monthly repayment decreases but can be a problem if it increases. Variable interest rates offer several other benefits often not available with fixed rate home loans like redraw and offset facilities and free extra repayments. 

How do I apply for Westpac’s first home buyer loan?

If you’re a first home buyer looking to apply for a home loan with Westpac, they offer an online home loan application. They suggest the application can be completed in about 20 minutes. Based on the information you provide, Westpac will advise you the amount you can borrow and the costs associated with any possible home loan. 

You can use Westpac’s online mortgage calculators to estimate your borrowing power. You can also work out the time it might take to save up for the deposit, and the size of your home loan repayments

When applying for a home loan with Westpac, you’re assigned a home finance manager who can address your concerns and provide information. The manager will also offer guidance on any government grants you may be eligible for. 

What is a secured home loan?

When the lender creates a mortgage on your property, they’re offering you a secured home loan. It means you’re offering the property as security to the lender who holds this security against the risk of default or any delays in home loan repayments. Suppose you’re unable to repay the loan. In this case, the lender can take ownership of your property and sell it to recover any outstanding funds you owe. The lender retains this hold over your property until you repay the entire loan amount.

If you take out a secured home loan, you may be charged a lower interest rate. The amount you can borrow depends on the property’s value and the deposit you can pay upfront. Generally, lenders allow you to borrow between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of the property value as the loan. Often, you’ll need Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) if the deposit is less than 20 per cent of the property value. Lenders will also do a property valuation to ensure you’re borrowing enough to cover the purchase. 

What is the average length of a home loan?

Most Aussie lenders offer home loans with a 30-year term, meaning that you should pay back the full loan amount and the interest you owe on the amount in 30 years. 

However, home loans can also have a shorter or longer term. They may be as low as ten years or up to 45 years, depending on the product and lender. 

It’s worth remembering that a longer loan term usually means you’ll end up paying a lot more interest in total, but your scheduled repayments may be more manageable. In contrast, you could opt for a shorter loan term if you are comfortable making large repayments in exchange for paying less interest over the term of the loan.

Do you compare mortgages using the comparison or advertised rate?

A lot of Australians compare home loans using the advertised interest rate, which indicates how much interest you’ll be charged on your mortgage repayments. The lower your rate, the cheaper your home loan should be.

However, interest charges aren’t the only cost associated with home loans. Most mortgage lenders also charge fees on their home loans. A mortgage with a low interest rate and high fees can sometimes cost more than a mortgage with a high interest rate and low fees.

A home loan’s comparison rate combines the cost of interest with the cost of standard fees and charges into a single percentage rate. Mortgage lenders are required to display a comparison rate alongside their advertised rate to better indicate the home loan’s overall cost.

Keep in mind that to ensure consistency, all comparison rates are calculated assuming a $150,000 principal and interest mortgage with a 25 year term. As your home loan may be different, the comparison rate may not accurately reflect exactly how much your home loan may cost. Also, the comparison rate doesn’t include every home loan fee and charge, so it’s still important to compare home loans and read the fine print before you apply.

Can I get a home renovation loan with bad credit?

If you're looking for funds to pay for repairs or renovations to your home, but you have a low credit score, you need to carefully consider your options. If you already have a mortgage, a good starting point is to check whether you can redraw money from that. You could also consider applying for a new home loan. 

Before taking out a new loan, it’s good to note that lenders are likely to charge higher interest rates on home repair loans for bad credit customers. Alternatively, they may be willing to lend you a smaller amount than a standard loan. You may also face some challenges with getting your home renovation loan application approved. If you do run into trouble, you can speak to your lender and ask whether they would be willing to approve your application if you have a guarantor or co-signer. You should also explain the reasons behind your bad credit rating and the steps that you’re taking to improve it. 

Consulting a financial advisor or mortgage broker can help you understand your options and make the right choice.

How do you determine which home loan rates/products I’m shown?

When you check your home loan rate, you’ll supply some basic information about your current loan, including the amount owing on your mortgage and your current interest rate.

We’ll compare this information to the home loan options in the RateCity database and show you which home loan products you may be eligible to apply for.

 

Can you remove a cosigner from a home loan?

Taking out a home loan is an act of financial responsibility and a cosigner on a home loan shares that responsibility. For this reason, removing a cosigner from a home loan may not be straightforward. Usually, you can add a cosigner, or become a cosigner, when applying for the home loan. In such a circumstance, the lender may ask you to stipulate the conditions for a cosigner release, which are the terms for removing a cosigner from the home loan. For instance, you may agree that you can remove a cosigner once half the loan amount has been repaid.

However, not stipulating such conditions doesn’t mean it’s impossible to remove a cosigner. If the primary home loan applicant has a sufficiently high credit score and has not delayed any repayments, the lender may be willing to remove the cosigner. You should confirm that doing so doesn’t affect the terms of the loan. If the lender doesn’t agree to remove the cosigner, the primary home loan applicant may have to refinance the loan in order to do so. If there were specific reasons for needing a cosigner and those reasons are still valid, then you may have some challenges with refinancing.

What are the features of home loans for expats from Westpac?

If you’re an Australian citizen living and working abroad, you can borrow to buy a property in Australia. With a Westpac non-resident home loan, you can borrow up to 80 per cent of the property value to purchase a property whilst living overseas. The minimum loan amount for these loans is $25,000, with a maximum loan term of 30 years.

The interest rates and other fees for Westpac non-resident home loans are the same as regular home loans offered to borrowers living in Australia. You’ll have to submit proof of income, six-month bank statements, an employment letter, and your last two payslips. You may also be required to submit a copy of your passport and visa that shows you’re allowed to live and work abroad.

When do mortgage payments start after settlement?

Generally speaking, your first mortgage payment falls due one month after the settlement date. However, this may vary based on your mortgage terms. You can check the exact date by contacting your lender.

Usually your settlement agent will meet the seller’s representatives to exchange documents at an agreed place and time. The balance purchase price is paid to the seller. The lender will register a mortgage against your title and give you the funds to purchase the new home.

Once the settlement process is complete, the lender allows you to draw down the loan. The loan amount is debited from your loan account. As soon as the settlement paperwork is sorted, you can collect the keys to your new home and work your way through the moving-in checklist.