Sorting mortgage facts from fiction

Among all the voices analysing the Australian property market, you’ve probably heard many truisms about how to secure a home loan. The real truth is that there are lots of options.

We thought it was time to correct some frequent misconceptions we hear from our clients. Hopefully this will help you identify the path to home ownership that best suits your circumstances.

Beat the deposit treadmill

A common belief is that you need the holy grail of a 20% deposit before the banks will even look at you. It may be their ideal, but they also realise it’s out of reach for many – even with the help of mum and dad. The vast majority of lenders have a variety of deposit options. These include deposits as low as 5% and, if you qualify for a government guarantee, not having to pay mortgage insurance.

Guarantor home loans are becoming more common. These allow you to avoid stumping up a cash deposit by having a guarantor (usually a close relative) pledging their home equity to cover the equivalent of your 20% deposit.

You may also qualify for the Government Equity Scheme where the government pays 50% of your home loan. This lets you to enter the market with less deposit and reduces your repayments. However, it also means the government owns half the equity in your home.

When 30 years is too long

Most people want the longest mortgage possible as it means smaller monthly repayments. Of course, the downside to a 30-year mortgage is paying more interest over the long-term. For some situations, like if you want to increase your equity quickly, it might be better to opt for a shorter term where you pay more interest each month but less over entire the length of the loan. Knowing your timeline and expected cash flow will help decide what’s right for you.

The pros and cons of fixed rates

Now that there’s serious talk of interest rates falling, people are once again seeing the value of not locking in their interest rates for long periods. When deciding on a fixed or fluctuating mortgage you need to think about your long- and short-term financial goals and cash flow.

For example, at the time of choosing your mortgage, the fixed rate is usually higher than the fluctuating rate so you need to ask yourself if you can afford it. Many buyers decide to hedge their bets by splitting between the two. You can also fix rates for different time spans. Again, in general, the longer the ‘fix’, the higher the rate.

When interest-only makes sense

Getting an interest-only loan is often seen as risky and isn’t as popular as it once was. However, some people still find them useful, especially property investors. With an interest-only loan you just pay back the interest on your home loan and not any of the capital. This results in smaller monthly repayments but limits your equity growth in the property. Some people chose to start out interest-only so they can pay for renovations or get on top of their cash flow. They then switch to an interest and principal repayment structure later on.

Pre-approval is no guarantee

Estate agents love you to have ‘pre-approval’ for a home loan. It tells them you are serious about buying and that you know your limit. Pre-approval also speeds up the buying process because some of the basic paperwork has been submitted.

What it doesn’t do is guarantee that you will get the loan. Lenders still need to go through due diligence before approving you. You also need to be aware that pre-approvals last three months. After that, you have to apply to have it renewed.

With all the advice out there, identifying your individual path to home loan approval can appear tricky, but that’s only because you have options. There is no one size fits all. So, why not start the ball rolling by having a chat with us about your goals and options. We can arm you with the facts and help you set off on your property-owning path.

Important: This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.

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