Basic Training: How to have a second bite at your mortgage cherry

Posted by Henry | HOME LOANS,INTEREST RATES,MORTGAGES | Monday 28 September 2015 11:00 am

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Cherries, like a better mortgage rate, are always good for the picking.

The task of finding a better home loan deal is not right up there in the excitement stakes.

  • This is the latest in a series of stories for anyone just starting to manage their own financial future.

Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to forget about it, and keep paying too much. Or – as most of us do when buying petrol, milk, or any number of smaller things – you could shop around, and save a bundle.

Refresh your memory Check what your current interest rate is, and what the loan includes. Are you on a fixed or variable loan? If it’s fixed, are there discharge fees?

The fine print “The key to finding the cheapest home loan is that it’s not just about finding the cheapest interest rate – you also need to take into account the fees and charges associated with the loan,” says Shelley Marsh, a former stock market analyst who writes personal finance blog Money Mummy.

“This is why you should look at the comparison rate as well as the interest rate.”

She says the comparison rate reflects the actual cost of the loan as it takes into account fees and charges, plus the interest payment you’ll have to make over the entire life of the loan.

Featuring… If you want to pay your home loan off quickly (who doesn’t?), Marsh suggests looking for three top features: unlimited extra repayments without fees, a redraw facility and a 100 per cent offset account.

Play the field Do your research before tackling your bank. Comparison websites such as Finder, Mozo, Canstar or RateCity can link you directly to lenders.

New website HashChing, “Australia’s first online marketplace for home loans” – advertises special deals, and puts you in touch with a local mortgage broker who can help you get that deal.

Chief executive Mandeep Sodhi says mortgage brokers have access to better rates, and can do the heavy lifting for you.

Negotiate hard. Sodhi says if you’re dealing directly with a bank, dig your heels in, and don’t take the first offer.

Threatening to jump ship remains a smart tactic. “Do you want to stick with the bank that’s not looking after you?” says Sodhi.


Henry Sapiecha

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Home loans getting cheaper as lenders wage war

Posted by Henry | BANKS,INTEREST RATES | Tuesday 22 September 2015 7:56 am

There is a widening gap between the most competitive deals in the market and the average rates offered by the major banks image

There is a widening gap between the most competitive deals in the market and the average rates offered by the major banks. Photo: Louie Douvis

Some smaller lenders have slashed advertised interest rates on new owner-occupier mortgages by twice as much as the Reserve Bank of Australia.

The central bank cut official interest rates by 0.5 percentage points to 2 per cent over the past year to stimulate the economy. Several lenders have cut their most competitive advertised home loan interest rates for new borrowers by significantly more than this, figures from interest rate comparison website Mozo show.

The cuts have been prompted by fierce competition in mortgages, the biggest source of credit growth for banks.

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RBA governor Glenn Stevens expects some borrowers who have called themselves investors will become owner-occupiers. Photo: Louie Douvis

The most competitive rate offered by small lenders Credit Union SA and Community First Credit Union-owned Easy Street had fallen by more than 1 percentage point in the last year, with both offering loans at 3.99 per cent, while online bank ING Direct was also offering rates of 3.99 per cent, Mozo said.

The best home loan rate offered by National Australia Bank had also fallen 0.93 percentage points to 4.15 per cent in the past year, while Westpac’s rate had fallen 0.89 percentage points to 5.08 per cent, Mozo said.

“Margins are healthy right now, funding costs are fairly moderate, and the smaller lenders are taking advantage of the traditional spring property market to try to ramp up their loan books,” Mozo director Kirsty Lamont said.

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Competition is pushing down interest rates offered to new owner-occupiers. Photo: James Davies

Mozo’s figures are based on the best rates available to an owner-occupier taking out a new loan who has a 20 per cent deposit and is borrowing $300,000 over 25 years.

Rate cuts of this size have not necessarily been passed on to existing borrowers as banks’ specials are typically available to customers taking out a new loan or refinancing.

Ms Lamont also said there was a widening gap between the most competitive deals in the market and the average rates offered by the major banks.

Mozo data shows the average home loan interest rate offered by the big four bank is 4.86 per cent, which is 1.02 percentage points higher than the cheapest rate in the market, from iMortgage, owned by non-bank lender Homeloans.

Banks are targeting owner-occupiers because the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority wants lenders to slow their growth in the housing investor loan market to less than 10 per cent from the present 10.8 per cent.

In another sign of the competition for owner-occupiers, NAB last week said it would offer new borrowers in this segment enough frequent flyer points for two return flights to London.

The focus on owner-occupiers comes after most major lenders have raised interest rates for housing investors by 0.27 percentage points, opening up a two-tier interest rate market where investors pay more for debt.

Since these hikes were announced in July, thousands of customers had contacted their banks to update records so their loan was classified as an owner-occupied loan.

Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens on Friday said this trend would continue.

“I predict we will now see a number of people who used to call themselves investors are going to call themselves owner-occupiers because the relative pricing has changed. That will lead to some interesting dynamics, I suspect, over the next year,” Mr Stevens said.


Henry Sapiecha

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