Are you too loyal for your own good? The banks think so

What’s the loyalty tax?

It’s this sneaky lender trick where borrowers with older mortgages are typically charged a higher interest rate than borrowers with new loans, and it was confirmed in a study by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) last year.

You see, the banks don’t think you’re paying attention, and as such, they only offer their lowest rates going to new customers in a bid to win them over.

For example, RBA June 2021 figures show the average difference in home loan interest rates between new and existing owner-occupier borrowers was 0.46%.

On an average loan size of about $400,000, that 0.46% difference on a 30-year loan means a borrower would pay an additional $37,462 in interest over the life of the loan.

That’s $1,249 per year, per household.

Athena Home Loans research estimates this costs Australian households a total of $9.1 billion per year.

 

Borrowers feeling ripped off and angry

It should come as no surprise then that 91% of borrowers want new and existing customers to receive the same rate, according to a survey of 1,000 homeowners undertaken by CoreData and commissioned by Athena.

The vast majority of those surveyed say they also feel “ripped off” (82%), “angry” (74%), and “outraged” (72%) at the opaque pricing practice.

“We know transparency is at the heart of trust. There is an enormous opportunity for those lenders with clear pricing and a simple value proposition,” says CoreData Global CEO Andrew Inwood.

 

You don’t need to feel trapped

Now, the ACCC published a report in December 2020 with several recommendations to prevent this unfair practice, but nothing much has come of it since.

Meanwhile, more than half (56%) of those surveyed in the CoreData report say they feel trapped in their current deal, while one in three people (36%) asked their lender for a drop in their interest rate but were rejected.

But with competition among lenders quite fierce right now, it’s important to know the power is in your hands.

“Rates are at an all-time low at the moment, so it’s at a crucial time when Australians need the money in their pockets, not the banks,” explains Athena CEO and Co-Founder Nathan Walsh.

Adds the RBA: ​​“Well-informed borrowers have been able to negotiate a larger discount with their existing lender, without the need to refinance their loan.”

 

There’s no loyalty tax with us

We like to reward loyalty around here. We’ll always have your back.

So, if you haven’t refinanced recently, get in touch today and we’ll work with you to help save you thousands of dollars in interest repayments.

That might involve renegotiating with your current lender, or looking around for another lender who will give you a fairer rate.

Either way, we’ll make sure your lender isn’t taking advantage of your loyalty.

 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

Refinancing figures are on a record-breaking run: here’s why

We’re currently seeing more people refinance their home loans than ever before, and the latest ABS figures out this week prove we’re not imagining things.

Refinanced home loans reached an all-time high of $17.2 billion in July, which is a 6% increase on June.

It’s also more than double the value that was refinanced exactly two years prior in July 2019.

 

So why are homeowners refinancing in record numbers?

For starters, the RBA cash rate is at an all-time low of 0.1% following six rate cuts in three years.

As such, competition amongst lenders is fierce, with many offering record-low home loan rates in a bid to win over as many customers as possible.

In fact, RateCity reports the number of variable rates under 2% on its database has jumped from 28 to 46 in just two months.

Borrowers are also opting to lock in their interest rate too, says the ABS, following reports that lenders have started increasing the rates on 3-5 year fixed-rate loans.

“Borrowers are seeking out lower interest rates, particularly for fixed-rate loans, and cashback deals across a large number of major and non-major lenders,” says ABS head of Finance and Wealth, Katherine Keenan.

COVID-19 is likely increasing the number of homeowners refinancing, too.

With many households and businesses around the country doing it tough right now, one simple way to reduce your monthly mortgage repayments is by refinancing.

 

How we help you refinance the right way

Now, fixed-rate loans and cashback deals might look super appealing at first glance, but they might not always be the best fit for your situation.

And that’s why it helps to have someone like us in your corner.

We can help you go through the fine print, fees and limitations that might exist within these loan options.

We can also help you determine whether a fixed, variable or split loan is better suited to your needs.

The other thing we’re great at is negotiating with your lender.

Your current lender won’t automatically give you their lowest rate going. You’ve got to ask them for it.

And you’ve also got to make it clear that if they don’t reduce your interest rate, you’re willing to find another lender who will.

This can be both intimidating, not to mention time-consuming and frustrating if they don’t want to play ball.

But lucky for you, we can do the leg-work for you.

So if you haven’t refinanced in the past few years, get in touch with us today and we could help you save thousands of dollars in interest repayments on your mortgage.

 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

How to ease financial pressure through debt consolidation

Here’s a quick experiment.

Go pick up three balls and try to juggle them. Most people, besides those who ran away to join a circus, will likely drop at least one of them within a few tosses.

Now put two of the balls aside and throw the remaining ball up and down (with one or both hands).

Much easier to manage, right?

Well, it’s not too dissimilar to the concept of debt consolidation.

If you have more than one loan – be that a credit card, car loan and/or a personal loan – you can help reduce the stress of juggling multiple debts, payment dates and interest rates by rolling them into one easy-to-manage loan.

 

There are other benefits, too

One common debt consolidation method is to take out a new personal loan and use the funds to pay off your other existing debts.

Now, if the interest rate on the new personal loan is lower than the rate on your existing debts (for example, a credit card with a 17.99% interest rate) this can help you pay less interest each month – not to mention avoid the nasty late payment fees that come with those kinds of cards.

And by rolling all your debts into one, you can get a clearer timeline of when you can be debt-free.

Debt consolidation can also make it easier for you to manage your household budget, as you only need to factor in repayments for one debt per month instead of many.

 

Refinancing your home loan for debt consolidation

Another method people use for debt consolidation is rolling it into a refinanced home loan because mortgages offer comparatively low-interest rates.

So if you’re really struggling with multiple debts right now – such as a car loan or a number of credit cards – consolidating your debts into your home loan will, in most cases, reduce your overall monthly repayments.

However, here’s a big word of warning.

While this option can reduce your monthly repayments now, debt consolidation through your mortgage can turn a short-term debt (like a personal loan) into much longer-term debt.

As such, unless you aim to make a lot of extra repayments as soon as possible, you could end up paying significantly more interest than you would have otherwise.

One way to address this issue is to create a loan split for the debt consolidation, giving you the ability to pay off all the short term debts within a few years, rather than, for example, over a 25-year home loan period.

So if you’re in need of breathing space now, debt consolidation is an option to consider – especially with mortgage rates so low at present due to the RBA’s official cash rate being at record low levels.

 

Get in touch today

If you’d like to explore your debt consolidation or refinancing options, then get in touch with us today and we can help you look at ways to take some financial pressure off your shoulders.

It’s also worth noting that lenders are providing mortgage holders impacted by COVID with a range of hardship support measures, including loan deferrals on a month-by-month basis.

Whatever your circumstances, we’re here to support you however we can through these times.

 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

COVID hardship and grant options that could help you

Setting all politics aside, it’s safe to say no one wants to be here. Yet here we are – this time with no JobKeeper or the original JobSeeker payment to help keep us afloat.

So what grants, schemes and hardship arrangements are available to small businesses and individuals this time around?

Let’s run through this year’s COVID support options below.

 

Loan deferrals on home and business loans

Impacted small businesses with loans in good standing are being supported by lenders with repayment deferrals of up to three months.

For home loan holders, lenders are also providing a range of support measures, including loan deferrals on a month-by-month basis.

Since July 8, more than 14,500 home loans have been deferred, while more than 600 business loans have been deferred.

“Support is available to all small businesses and home loan customers significantly impacted by current lockdowns or recovering from recent lockdowns, irrespective of geography or industry,” says Anna Bligh, CEO of the Australian Banking Association.

 

Business grants and payments

As you’ll see below, each state and territory has their own grants and schemes available for businesses and individuals.

As the situation is constantly evolving, it’s worth double-checking to see if your business is eligible for any other grants or payments not listed below.

NSW: If you’re a business, sole trader or not-for-profit organisation in NSW and you’ve been impacted by the recent COVID-19 restrictions, you may be eligible for a one-off grant of $7,500, $10,500 or $15,000. Apply here by September 13.

Victoria: There are several grants in Victoria for employing and non-employing businesses. The Small Business COVID Hardship Fund provides $10,000 grants for eligible SMEs that have experienced a reduction in turnover of at least 70%. Apply here by September 10. The Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two offers grants of $4800 to eligible businesses in specific industriesApply here by August 20.

Queensland: Lockdown-impacted businesses in Queensland can apply to receive a grant ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, depending on the size of their annual payroll. Grants of $1,000 are also available for non-employing sole traders. Apply here by November 16.

Western Australia: The Small Business Lockdown Assistance Grant: Round Two provides $3000 cash flow support to small businesses in industry sectors most impacted by the recent circuit-breaker four-day lockdown and interim restrictions. Apply here by August 31.

South Australia: Small and medium-sized businesses forced to close as a result of the state’s lockdown (beginning 20 July 2021) may be eligible for a $3,000 emergency cash grant. Sole traders may be eligible for $1000. Apply here by October 17.

ACT: COVID-19 Business Support Grants will provide up to $10,000 for employing businesses and up to $4,000 for non-employing businesses that experienced a turnover decline of 30% or more as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown health restrictions. Find out more here.

 

For individuals

The federal government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment is a lump sum payment to help workers unable to earn income due to a COVID-19 state public health order.

This may involve a lockdown, hotspot or movement restrictions. How much you can get depends on your location and circumstances. It’s available to eligible ACT, NSW, QLD, SA and Victoria residents.

 

Tenant and landlord support

NSW landlords who reduce rents for tenants hard-hit by the pandemic will be able to access up to $3,000 per tenancy agreement.

For landlords to be eligible, their tenant’s take-home weekly income must have fallen by 25% or more. The tenant also needs to continue to pay at least 25% of the rent payable.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Government has made it a requirement for commercial landlords to provide rent relief that matches their tenants’ fall in turnover in response to coronavirus, where the tenant is eligible for commercial tenancy relief support.

 

Get in touch today

Last but not least, it’s worth noting that there are refinance or restructure options you can explore in order to reduce your business or home loan repayments each month (without hitting the pause button). These include:

– asking for a better rate or moving to a lender that can provide one;
– extending the length of your loan;
– switching to interest-only payments for a period of time; and
– consolidating debt.

So if your business or household is one of the many doing it tough again, please get in touch today – we’re ready to assist you through 2021 and beyond, in any way we can.

 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

House price growth hits 17-year high, but is it slowing down?

It’s no secret that house prices have reached record-breaking highs this past year.

In fact, home values grew by 16.1% over the past 12 months – the fastest pace of growth since 2004, according to CoreLogic’s latest Hedonic Home Value Index.

To put that into a little context, the rate of growth over the past year has been so steep that houses in some cities are out-earning some of Australia’s top-paid professionals, including surgeons, anaesthetists and CEOs.

But there are signs that the growth rate is starting to taper.

 

Signs of a slow down

Australian housing values increased 1.6% in July, a result CoreLogic’s research director Tim Lawless describes as “strong, but losing steam”.

“The monthly growth rate has been trending lower since March this year when the national index rose 2.8%,” Mr Lawless explains.

And in a further sign of a property market slowdown, the value of new housing loan commitments fell 1.6% in June, the first fall in monthly lending figures this year, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data.

 

So what’s slowing things down?

With dwelling values rising more in a month than incomes are rising in a year, housing is simply moving out of reach for members of the community, Mr Lawless explains.

Additionally, much of the federal government’s earlier COVID-19 related fiscal support, including JobKeeper and HomeBuilder, have now expired.

“It is likely recent COVID outbreaks and associated lockdowns have contributed to some of the loss of momentum as well, particularly from a transactional perspective in Sydney which is enduring an extended period of restrictions,” CoreLogic’s latest Hedonic Home Value Index report adds.

That said, it should be noted that housing values are continuing to rise substantially faster than average.

Over the past 10 years, the average pace of monthly dwelling value appreciation has been just 0.4%, says CoreLogic.

 

So what’s ahead?

It’s likely the rate of growth will continue to taper through the second half of 2021 as affordability constraints become more pressing and housing supply gradually lifts, says CoreLogic.

“Other potential headwinds are apparent, including the possibility of tighter credit policies,” adds the CoreLogic report.

On the flip side, demand remains strong and is being aided by record-low mortgage rates and the prospect that interest rates will remain low for an extended period of time.

“A lift in the cash rate is likely to be at least 18 months away,” CoreLogic adds.

“The recent spate of lockdowns is likely to see Australia’s economy once again contract through the September quarter, a factor that is likely to keep rates on hold for a while longer.”

 

Get in touch

With house prices having just experienced their fastest pace of growth since 2004, it’s as important as ever to purchase your new home with a finance option that’s right for you.

So if you’re a keen homebuyer who wants to explore what options are available to you – including your borrowing capacity – get in touch today. We’d love to run through it with you.

 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

5 reasons it’s a good time to refinance

So where does refinancing fit in?

Well, the many social and financial changes that have been thrust upon us recently have combined to make it a good time to consider refinancing your home loan.

Here are five reasons why you may want to consider doing so.

 

1. Payment relief

When was the last time you refinanced your home loan?

If your answer was ‘one year ago (or longer), the finance and lending landscape has changed dramatically since then and it might be time to catch up.

According to the RBA, a recent study found that borrowers who refinance with another lender or negotiate a better deal with their existing lender, do in fact achieve interest savings.

So if you or your partner have recently had your work hours cut back and you’re starting to worry about how you’ll meet your monthly mortgage repayments, refinancing could be a more suitable option than applying for a hardship variation on your loan.

 

2. Consolidate your debts

Refinancing can also help you consolidate your other debts – including your credit card, car loans or personal loans – by combining them into a refinanced mortgage.

Not only will this give you one simple repayment to make each month (reducing the risk of forgetting payments and being slugged with a late fee), but all your debts will be charged at your home loan interest rate – which is usually much lower than credit card rates, for example.

 

3. Low interest rates: time to lock one in?

Fixed rates have recently experienced a big drop.

In fact, Domain’s David Hyman has described the current batch of fixed interest rate loans as “staggeringly cheap”.

“Only a couple of months ago the cheapest headline rate started with a three. If you look back to this time last year rates were in the high threes,” Hyman explains.

“For someone with a half a million-dollar mortgage, that is well in excess of $10,000 a year in savings. It’s never been a better time to refinance quite frankly.”

And with the official RBA cash rate now at a record low of 0.25%, there isn’t a great deal of room for it to go much lower.

 

4. Time on your hands

One of the more common reasons homeowners give for not refinancing is that they simply don’t have the time to do so.

But, without pointing out the obvious, I think it’s fair to say that we have far fewer social commitments taking up our time at present.

So, if you’ve compiled a list of things to do to keep busy at home, consider adding refinancing to the list.

Once you get the ball rolling on it and get in touch with us you’ll be surprised how little you actually have to do – after all, that’s our job, right?

 

5. We’re available to help you, whenever you need us

Finally, rest assured that we’re available and here to help you any way we can.

During trying times like these we know that we need to support each other now, more than ever.

So if you’d like us to help you explore your refinancing, hardship variation, or support package options then please get in touch – we’re ready to jump into action and make it happen for you.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

Want to switch home loans? Here are some top tips for refinancing

More and more mortgage holders are looking for a better deal on their home loan.

According to ABS data, the total number of home loan customers who switched providers last year increased by 27% – from 143,664 in 2019 to 182,016 in 2020.

And a further 200,000 Australian families are expected to switch lenders and save in 2021.

But there’s switching lenders the wrong way, and switching lenders the right way.

Fortunately, Laura Higgins, ASIC’s Senior Executive Leader Consumer Insights and Communication, recently shared some important tips with ABC radio, which we’ve compiled for you below.

 

1. See if your current lender can cut you a better deal

Here’s the thing about the big banks and home loans: customer loyalty is rarely rewarded.

In fact, the RBA found that for loans written four years ago, borrowers were charged an average of 40 basis points higher interest than new loans.

For a loan balance of $250,000, that could cost you an extra $1,000 in interest payments per year.

“Many times, new customers are offered a better deal than existing borrowers, so if you have a home loan that is a few years old you could potentially get a better deal that saves you thousands of dollars over time,” explains Ms Higgins.

“Even if you’re happy with your current lender, it’s worth checking you’re not paying for features or add-ons you’re not using.”

 

2. Don’t jump at the easy money: do the maths

There are a lot of incentives out there to entice you to switch mortgages quickly, such as cashback offers or very low-interest rates.

But Ms Higgins urges borrowers to closely compare these offers with the long term costs.

“For example, it’s worth doing the maths to ensure a cashback offer still puts you ahead over the long term when considered against other aspects of the loan, like interest rates and fees,” she explains.

“If you decide to switch lenders, you may end up with a longer-term loan.

It’s also important to consider whether lenders mortgage insurance or other costs, like discharge and loan arrangement fees, may be payable.

“These additional costs can outweigh the benefit of a lower interest rate,” she adds.

“A mortgage broker can also help you compare loans and decide whether to switch.”

Which is very true, if we do say so ourselves!

 

3. Consider switching to an offset account or redraw facility option

With interest rates so low, many borrowers are aiming to pay off their mortgage faster by making extra repayments.

“Interest rates may be low now, but probably won’t be this low forever. Making some extra repayments now can benefit customers in the long term,” says Ms Higgins.

But if you’re worried about tying up all your funds in your home loan, then you can consider switching to a mortgage redraw facility or offset account, which can allow you to make extra repayments but withdraw them if you need to.

“Either of these options might work for you depending on your goals,” Ms Higgins adds.

“Not all home loans can be linked to an offset account, and often those that can may have a fee charged or a slightly higher interest rate, so it’s worth making sure you’d be saving enough in there to warrant any extra costs.”

 

4. To fix the rate or not? Or both?

Last but not least, a refinancing tip that we think is worth considering in this climate of record-low interest rates (which probably won’t be around forever).

One of the most common ‘big decision’ questions we get asked when it comes to refinancing is: should I fix my home loan rate or not?

But did you know a third option exists?

Yep, you can fix the rate on some of your mortgage, but not all of it.

This allows you to lock in a low rate for a portion of your home loan, while also taking advantage of some of the flexibility that a variable rate can offer, such as the ability to make extensive additional payments.

If you’d like to know more about it – or any of the other refinancing tips in this article – then get in touch today.

We’d be more than happy to help you refinance your home loan, whether that be renegotiating with your current lender or exploring your options elsewhere.

 

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.