You wouldn’t buy a home without first doing your research on the house and neighbourhood, and the same can be said about your home loan. If you’re on the hunt for the best home loan for your financial situation, you’ll need to do some searching.

Here is everything you need to know about searching for and comparing home loans in Australia.

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1.89%

Fixed - 2 years

2.94%

Suncorp Bank

$1.3k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

3.57

/ 5
More details

1.95%

Fixed - 3 years

2.27%

UBank

$1.3k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

3.10

/ 5
More details

2.14%

Fixed - 1 year

2.35%

UBank

$1.3k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

2.09

/ 5
More details

2.59%

Fixed - 5 years

2.46%

UBank

$1.4k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

2.47

/ 5
More details

2.88%

Variable

2.55%

UBank

$720

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

2.28

/ 5
More details

2.29%

Fixed - 3 years

2.65%

UBank

$1.3k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

2.18

/ 5
More details

2.74%

Variable

2.74%

UBank

$1.4k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

2.85

/ 5
More details

2.74%

Fixed - 5 years

2.76%

UBank

$1.4k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

2.12

/ 5
More details

2.29%

Variable

2.23%

Athena Home Loans

$1.3k

Redraw facility
Offset Account
Borrow up to 80%
Extra Repayments
Interest Only
Owner Occupied

3.72

/ 5
More details

How to search for a home loan

To begin your home loan journey, you first need to know how to search for and compare your options. This is where comparison tools, as well as trusted experts, can lend a helpful hand.

  • Comparison tables

A comparison table is a way to compare apples with apples, meaning, it allows you to perform side by side comparisons of various home loan products you have filtered down to suit your financial situation.

Simply enter the details of your ideal home loan (loan amount, property value) and filter down the results by entering your loan type, rate type and more. You’ll then be able to view a range of options side by side to create a short list of home loans with competitive interest rates, repayment amounts and features, as well as fees you may want to avoid.

(Not sure of your ideal loan type? Don’t fret - these details are explained further in this guide.)

  • Home loan calculators

Once you have a short list of home loans you may be interested in, you’ll want to continue your search by seeing how they may suit your budget. This is where home loan calculators come in.

Simply, enter in the amount you’d like to borrow, the interest rate, loan term, repayment type and whether you’re an owner-occupier or investor. You’ll then be given an estimate of your potential monthly repayments. If this figure would break your budget, for example, you’ll know that loan may not be the one for you. However, if the repayments are easily affordable (including any potential ongoing fees) you may have a loan contender.

  • Real Time RatingsTM

Tossing up between a few home loan options? It can always help to listen to what the experts have to say. This is where Real Time RatingsTM may be able to help make the search a little clearer. Real Time RatingsTM is a world-first rating system that provides up-to-date assessments of home loans based on your individual requirements.

Other comparison site rating systems may only be graded once or twice a year. However, Real Time RatingsTM is calculated daily, with each loan given a rating out of 5 stars. This rating is based on loan cost and flexibility, factoring in your loan size, deposit amount and borrowing type. Consider using Real Time RatingsTM as a handy guide when searching for your ideal home loan.

  • Mortgage brokers

Speaking of experts, if you’re absolutely stuck in your home loan search, or just want a little more specific financial advice, a mortgage broker can offer a lifeline for would-be borrowers.

You’ll not only get the insider view from an industry-expert, but they can aid in guiding you through the home loan application process, ensuring your application is as stress-free as possible.

What is a comparison rate?

An interest rate may not always give you the full picture of the true cost of a home loan, and this is where comparison rates can come in handy. A comparison rate also factors in various fees and charges associated with the loan. The calculation is based on a (now somewhat dated) Australian model of a $150,000 loan with a loan term of 25 years.

As home loans are typically much larger, the comparison rate may not be an exact reflection of the full costs you may incur. However, it is a good way to gauge just how many fees and costs a loan has. For example, if a loan advertises a rate of 2 per cent, but the comparison rate is a percentage point higher or more, you can expect a fair few ongoing costs with that home loan.

What Aussies search for in a good home loan

Ideally, you’re aiming for a home loan that suits your borrowing type and keeps costs down.

Another key component to look at when performing a home loan search is what exactly makes up the home loan itself, including the interest rates, fees and ongoing costs and type of loan you’ve taken out.

  • Interest rate – the interest rate is one of the most important components of a home loan. The interest charged on your principal amount will make up a large sum of your ongoing repayments. The higher the interest rate, the higher your ongoing repayments. But a low rate loan may not come with the same bells and whistles as a more costly option.
  • Fees and costs – there are a range of potential fees and costs you may be charged for your home loan, including upfront fees, annual fees, early exit (break) fees and discharge (settlement) fees. You also may be charged lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) if your loan-to-value-ratio (LVR) is above 80 per cent, meaning you have a home loan deposit or home loan equity below 20 per cent of the property's value. Your loan may also be subject to stamp duty, depending on your state or territory.
  • Interest rate types – you may choose between paying a variable interest rate or a fixed interest rate on your home loan. A variable rate home loan is subject to market fluctuation and is influenced by both the lender and the Reserve Bank of Australia’s cash rate. If your lender were to cut rates, your rates would fall, and vice versa if they were to hike rates. However, a fixed rate home loan will lock in an interest rate for a set period of time, protecting you from any hikes, but limiting you from decreases. A fixed rate also allows for greater stability in your budget, as your loan repayments will all be the same amount. If you can’t choose between the two you may want to opt for a split loan, where a portion of your loan is variable, and a portion is fixed.
  • Repayment types - You can choose between paying both the principal and interest (easiest way to pay down your debt) or an interest-only loan. The latter is a popular option for investors, as it helps ensure their properties are as affordable as possible. However, as cheap as paying only the interest may be, you’re not actually paying off your debt. Once the interest-only term ends, you’ll find your repayments much higher, as your debt has stayed the same but the years you have to pay off your loan have shrunk. 
  • Loan types – there are different home loan types based on the loan purpose. You can choose between an owner-occupier loan (if you live in the property you buy) or an investor loan (you choose to rent out the property). Owner-occupiers are typically offered lower home loan interest rates as a lender generally sees less risk of a default on the home loan if you’re living in the house itself.
  • Repayment frequency – you may choose to make mortgage repayments monthly, fortnightly or weekly. Monthly repayments are the most common, but the shorter your frequency, generally the faster you’ll be able to pay off your debt.
  • Features – typically, the more features your loan has, the higher the ongoing costs. However, various home loan features can actually help you pay down your debt faster, including an offset account, redraw facility and the ability to make extra repayments. You may also bundle your home loan with other lender products, such as a credit card or savings account - also called a loan package.

Are you searching in the right place for a home loan?

Now you understand what makes up a home loan, you need to ensure you’re searching in the right place for your ideal home loan.

Not all loans are created equally, and different loans will have varying eligibility criteria, interest rates and ongoing costs based on your borrowing type and loan purpose. These include:

  • First home buyer

A first home buyer is looking for their first home loan to help them achieve the Great Australian Dream of getting a foot on the property ladder. Whether you’ll be living in the property or planning on renting it out, being a first home buyer will impact your mortgage search.

Firstly, you may not have saved up a 20 per cent deposit for your loan, as property prices in capital cities (particularly Sydney and Melbourne) are sky high. A smaller deposit may be enough to get the loan, but it may see your lender charge you a higher interest rate. Plus, you’ll have to pay LMI for the loan, which can creep into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Secondly, younger first home buyers may not have as established credit history and excellent credit scores. Your credit history plays a large role in not only the approval of your home loan, but the interest rate you may be offered. Australians with excellent credit scores are seen as more ‘reliable’ borrowers and less likely to default on their loans. The less risk you pose to a lender, the more competitive your interest rate may be.

However, first home buyers are also offered government support to help them get on the property ladder. Depending on the value of the property, you may be eligible for stamp duty exemptions or concessions. You may also be eligible for a first home owner grant. The details of this support will vary based on the state or territory you’re purchasing property in.

  • Investor

As mentioned above, if you’re looking for an investment loan so you can rent out a property, you may face higher ongoing costs on your loan. This is because lenders view property investors as having a greater risk of defaulting on the mortgage, as there is less incentive to pay your bills when you don’t live in the property that you’re paying off. By charging a higher interest rate, lenders are ensuring they’re getting something back from an investor, in the event they default on the loan.

Your loan application may be viewed with greater scrutiny by the lender because of this. You may need to save a larger deposit, or show your reliability in other ways, such as having a large amount of savings or having no outstanding debts.

  • Refinancer

If you’ve already purchased one or more properties and are looking to refinance your home loan, this will also impact your home loan search.

Whether you’re looking for a lower rate, fewer fees, or a loan with greater features, refinancing your home loan may help you to reduce your ongoing costs and create more flexibility in your mortgage.

If you’ve already paid off a significant chunk of your home loan, you will have built up some equity over the years. This is your leverage tool that may be able to help you nab a lower rate. Lenders may offer more competitive interest rates to borrowers with lower LVRs.

Comparing your options is invaluable for refinancers, so ensure you do your research and use comparison tables and calculators to nab the best new home loan for your financial needs.

  • Self-employed 

If you’re a small business owner or sole trader, you may find the home loan application process tends to be geared towards full-time employed Australians. Having a full-time job for more than 12 months looks favourable on an application, plus a lot of paperwork calls for employer and income details.

In the 1990s, mortgage brokers realised not all lenders fit into the one mortgage applicant category. This spurred the creation of ‘low-doc home loans’ for these viable borrowers. As the name suggests, a low doc loan is aimed towards Australians with low documentation – aka those who are self-employed and have the deposit for a loan but lack the standard documentation to prove they can maintain repayments.

While you will be offered typically the same rates, fees and features as a standard home loan, you’ll need to ensure you’re boosting your application with the right documentation. This may include:

  • Proof of identification
  • Proof of working in same industry for 12 months
  • Registered business name and ABN
  • 12 months of Business Activity Statements (BAS)
  • Proof of registration for GST
  • Personal and business bank statements
  • Income declaration from your accountant.

Frequently asked questions

Who has the best home loan?

Determining who has the ‘best’ home loan really does depend on your own personal circumstances and requirements. It may be tempting to judge a loan merely on the interest rate but there can be added value in the extras on offer, such as offset and redraw facilities, that aren’t available with all low rate loans.

To determine which loan is the best for you, think about whether you would prefer the consistency of a fixed loan or the flexibility and potential benefits of a variable loan. Then determine which features will be necessary throughout the life of your loan. Thirdly, consider how much you are willing to pay in fees for the loan you want. Once you find the perfect combination of these three elements you are on your way to determining the best loan for you. 

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.

What is a fixed home loan?

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.

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 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 an interest-only loan? How do I work out interest-only loan repayments?

An ‘interest-only’ loan is a loan where the borrower is only required to pay back the interest on the loan. Typically, banks will only let lenders do this for a fixed period of time – often five years – however some lenders will be happy to extend this.

Interest-only loans are popular with investors who aren’t keen on putting a lot of capital into their investment property. It is also a handy feature for people who need to reduce their mortgage repayments for a short period of time while they are travelling overseas, or taking time off to look after a new family member, for example.

While moving on to interest-only will make your monthly repayments cheaper, ultimately, you will end up paying your bank thousands of dollars extra in interest to make up for the time where you weren’t paying off the principal.

How can I calculate interest on my home loan?

You can calculate the total interest you will pay over the life of your loan by using a mortgage calculator. The calculator will estimate your repayments based on the amount you want to borrow, the interest rate, the length of your loan, whether you are an owner-occupier or an investor and whether you plan to pay ‘principal and interest’ or ‘interest-only’.

If you are buying a new home, the calculator will also help you work out how much you’ll need to pay in stamp duty and other related costs.

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.

What is a debt service ratio?

A method of gauging a borrower’s home loan serviceability (ability to afford home loan repayments), the debt service ratio (DSR) is the fraction of an applicant’s income that will need to go towards paying back a loan. The DSR is typically expressed as a percentage, and lenders may decline loans to borrowers with too high a DSR (often over 30 per cent).

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 can I pay off my home loan faster?

The quickest way to pay off your home loan is to make regular extra contributions in addition to your monthly repayments to pay down the principal as fast as possible. This in turn reduces the amount of interest paid overall and shortens the length of the loan.

Another option may be to increase the frequency of your payments to fortnightly or weekly, rather than monthly, which may then reduce the amount of interest you are charged, depending on how your lender calculates repayments.

What are extra repayments?

Additional payments to your home loan above the minimum monthly instalments, which can help to reduce the loan’s term and remaining payable interest.

What is a valuation and valuation fee?

A valuation is an assessment of what your home is worth, calculated by a professional valuer. A valuation report is typically required whenever a property is bought, sold or refinanced. The valuation fee is paid to cover the cost of preparing a valuation report.

What is breach of contract?

A failure to follow all or part of a contract or breaking the conditions of a contract without any legal excuse. A breach of contract can be material, minor, actual or anticipatory, depending on the severity of the breaches and their material impact.

How much are repayments on a $250K mortgage?

The exact repayment amount for a $250,000 mortgage will be determined by several factors including your deposit size, interest rate and the type of loan. It is best to use a mortgage calculator to determine your actual repayment size.

For example, the monthly repayments on a $250,000 loan with a 5 per cent interest rate over 30 years will be $1342. For a loan of $300,000 on the same rate and loan term, the monthly repayments will be $1610 and for a $500,000 loan, the monthly repayments will be $2684.

What does going guarantor' mean?

Going guarantor means a person offers up the equity in their home as security for your loan. This is a serious commitment which can have major repercussions if the person is not able to make their repayments and defaults on their loan. In this scenario, the bank will legally be able to the guarantor until the debt is settled.

Not everyone can be a guarantor. Lenders will generally only allow immediate family members to act as a guarantor but this can sometimes be stretched to include extended family depending on the circumstances.

How is the flexibility score calculated?

Points are awarded for different features. More important features get more points. The points are then added up and indexed into a score from 0 to 5.

What is appreciation or depreciation of property?

The increase or decrease in the value of a property due to factors including inflation, demand and political stability.

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.

Why should you trust Real Time Ratings?

Real Time Ratings™ was conceived by a team of data experts who have been analysing trends and behaviour in the home loan market for more than a decade. It was designed purely to meet the evolving needs of home loan customers who wish to merge low cost with flexible features quickly. We believe it fills a glaring gap in the market by frequently re-rating loan products based on the changes lenders make daily.

Real Time Ratings™ is a new idea and will change over time to match the frequently-evolving demands of the market. Some things won’t change though – it will always rate all relevent products in our database and will not be influenced by advertising.

If you have any feedback about Real Time Ratings™, please get in touch.