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Does a car loan affect your mortgage application?

A car loan can help you own your next set of wheels sooner, but it can also reduce your borrowing power when you apply for a home loan.


Fact checked

woman holding a car keyWhen you apply for a home loan, you’ll need to provide a wide range of information about your financial situation to your lender. As well as your employment, your income and any assets you own, you also need to tell the bank about your liabilities and ongoing expenses.

The lender wants to determine whether you will be able to afford to make repayments on the loan, and if you have too much debt to repay, then there’s a risk your mortgage application will be rejected.

One factor that may affect your borrowing capacity is a car loan. While borrowing money to purchase a vehicle may seem like a convenient solution, it can also have a significant impact on your ability to qualify for a home loan.

Why does a car loan affect my mortgage application?

Each lender has a set of lending criteria which borrowers must satisfy in order to qualify for a home loan. The aim of these criteria is to minimise the risk to the lender – in other words, they want to be as confident as possible that you will be able to repay the loan and that you won’t default on the mortgage.

In order to assess your repayment capabilities, lenders will review your income and assets in relation to your debts and other ongoing expenses. This is known as your debt-to-income ratio, and owing money on a car loan can have a significant impact on your ability to qualify for a mortgage.

“Car loan repayments reduce the amount of income left to service a new home loan,” explains Thomas Lynch, Finance Specialist with Step One Finance. “In other words, they reduce your disposable income and directly influence how much you can borrow to buy a home or investment property.”

Can a car loan reduce the amount I can borrow?

In many cases, a car loan itself won’t be enough to stop you qualifying to borrow money to buy a home, but it could be the difference between achieving your desired level of borrowing and falling short. And if you can’t access the finance you need, you’ll have to broaden your search for properties and start looking at homes in a lower price range.

“Car loans will reduce affordability,” Lynch says. “Each bank has different assessment criteria and policy when looking at an individual’s ability to repay a loan. It’s not uncommon to find some lenders will offer more favourable servicing policy than others, and those who do have car loans and want to borrow more will find it useful to shop around.

“From my experience, I have seen car loans ranging from $400 per month to over $1,000 per month. If you are planning to buy a home, it’s best to borrow as little as possible for a car and therefore keep these payments to a minimum,” he says.

Paul's car loan

Paul Smith is 32 years old and planning to buy his first home. He earns $60,000 pa working as a business consultant. He has no partner or dependents, one credit card with a limit of $5,000, cleared every month, and recently took out a car loan of $30,000 with repayments of $608 per month over five years. Paul’s monthly living expenses are $1,800.

He has been able to save $50,000 to put towards his first home.

Based on this scenario, Paul’s maximum borrowing power with a big four lender is $211,000.

If Paul did not have a car loan, his maximum borrowings would be $301,000, an additional $90,000.

Note: The borrowing power can differ with each lending institution and approval is subject to the overall strengths of the application. The assessment rate used is 7.25% pa.

What factors do lenders assess in the home loan application process?

Thomas Lynch from Step One Finance says that banks will generally offer home loan finance based on the following three questions:

  • Can you pay (income less expenses)? “The more disposable income, the better position you will be in to apply for finance. A car loan will reduce your disposable income and therefore your borrowing capability,” he says.
  • Will you pay (credit history)? “Have you shown good conduct on previous and existing loans such as credit cards, car loans, personal loans and even mobile phone bills?” Lynch asks. “This is becoming less of a problem as there are a range of lending institutions who will cater to people with adverse credit reports and low scores. If you want to attract the best possible deal, it’s a no-brainer to keep your credit score as healthy as possible.”
  • What will the bank do if you can’t repay (sell your property offered as security)? This is based on your net worth or total assets less your total liabilities. “If you are contributing a large amount of cash or equity to a property purchase then this is considered less risk to the bank and you will have a better chance of loan approval and attract a more competitive offer,” Lynch explains.

Tips for improving your chance of approval

  • Pay off your debts. While an outstanding car loan can hurt your borrowing power, a car loan that you have fully paid off can help your application. If you can demonstrate that you were able to budget to pay off your car over a long period and that you always made your repayments on time, your home loan application will look a whole lot stronger.
  • Reorganise your debts. If you’ve got multiple debts to manage, for example a car loan, credit cards and personal loans, you might want to consider consolidating your debt into one loan. This may make it easier to manage your repayments and get on top of your debt.
  • Remember other factors. It’s worth remembering that lenders assess a wide range of factors when determining the risks associated with lending you money. So if you have outstanding debt on a car loan and, for example, you only work part-time and therefore have a reduced earning capacity, this will impact upon your application in the eyes of the lender. However, part-time work is usually looked upon more favourably by lenders than casual work.
  • Work out a consistent savings plan. Putting money into a savings account regularly, for example weekly or fortnightly, is a great idea. This will demonstrate to a lender that you are disciplined when it comes to saving money and sticking to a budget.
  • Save a larger deposit. The larger the deposit you have saved to buy a home, the less you will need to borrow and the more attractive your loan application is likely to appear to a lender.
  • Employment history. Proving a stable and consistent employment history will improve your chances of home loan approval. “Having a consistent employment record doesn’t mean you need to have the same job for years, but if you’re planning on applying for a home loan, it might be best to hold off changing jobs,” Lynch says. If you’re looking at returning to work after an extended break such as maternity leave, it may be best to wait until you’ve been back at work for a few months before applying for a loan.
  • Self-employed proof of income. For the self-employed, demonstrating a stable income can be particularly difficult, which is why it’s a good idea to have an accountant. “An accountant can help you put together financial statements, which you’ll need to include as part of your loan application. Generally you’ll need at least one year’s history to support your application,” Lynch says.

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Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
St.George Basic Home Loan - LVR 60% to 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
$0 p.a.
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback.
A competitive variable rate loan from St.George. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get up $4,000 cashback for their first application (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate
$0 p.a.
Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
Athena Celebrate Home Loan - 60% LVR  Owner Occupier, P&I
$0 p.a.
A very low variable rate for home buyers with 40% deposits or equity. This rate takes effect from 30 September for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
Suncorp Back to Basics Home Loan - Better Together Special Offer $150k+ LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
$0 p.a.
$2,000 to $3,000 refinance cashback
Get a competitive variable interest rate with no application fee or ongoing fees. Refinance to an eligible Suncorp loan and get a cashback of $2,000 or $3,000, depending on your loan amount. Other conditions apply.
ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed with Members Package - 2 Year Fixed Rate LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
$395 p.a.
Lock in a competitive rate for owner occupiers for two years. Comes with a 100% offset account. Low Rate Home Loan with Offset - LVR Under 60% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
$0 p.a.
A competitive rate with no application or ongoing fee. This loan is not available for construction.
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)
$0 p.a.
Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online.
Virgin Money Reward Me Variable Home Loan - LVR ≤ 60% ($750k+ Owner Occupier, P&I)
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
$2,500 refinance cashback
Buy your home and lock in a low rate for the first two years. Get a $2,500 cashback when you switch to Virgin Money with a loan amount of $300,000 or more with an LVR up to 80%. You must apply by 28 August and settle by 30 October 2020.
Tic:Toc Live in 10% deposit Variable Rate - Principal & Interest
$0 p.a.
Get a very low interest rate and pay no application, settlement or valuation fees. Apply online for full approval in real time and add a 100% offset account for $10 a month.
Well Home Loans Balanced Variable - LVR 80% Special Offer (Owner occupier, P&I)
$0 p.a.
A very low interest rate for home buyers with 20% deposits saved. Add an offset account for a small fee. This special discount rate is available for new borrowers who apply and get approved by 30 November 2020. Not available for construction purposes.

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Logo for Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I (*now 2.59%, drops to 2.54% on 30 Sep)
Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I (*now 2.59%, drops to 2.54% on 30 Sep)

A competitive variable rate mortgage for owner occupiers $0 application and $0 ongoing fees. This interest rate falls over time as you pay off the loan. This rate will drop to 2.54% p.a on 30 September 2020 for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.

Logo for UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate

Take advantage of a low-fee mortgage with a special interest rate of just 2.49% p.a. and a 2.49% p.a. comparison rate.

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HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)

Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online.

Logo for ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed with Members Package - 2 Year Fixed Rate LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed with Members Package - 2 Year Fixed Rate LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)

Lock in a competitive rate for owner occupiers for two years. Comes with a 100% offset account.

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    JasonApril 15, 2018

    Hello i have had bad credit but got a loan to buy a car to show that i can pay and get my credit good again but i rent a house and pay child support i have a full time job for 8 years now prob make between 55 and 64 000 a year but seem to be paying alot of money for nothing and would rather be paying a house of for myself so i can see where my money s going i dont have much in savings but would like to know if i could refinance my car loan and get a house loan and pay one payment is this possible

    • Default Gravatar
      ArnoldApril 16, 2018

      Hi Jason,

      Thanks for your inquiry

      I’m afraid it is not possible to combine your car loan and home loan into one payment. Ultimately, the decision comes down to you. If you’d rather be free of debt sooner and are willing to forego a few extra bucks by doing so, pay off your smallest loan first, which is likely your auto loan.

      Hope this information helps


  2. Default Gravatar
    LokeshJanuary 12, 2017

    I want to take a car loan on my father and emi paid by me as i am not directly eligible for the loan on me. My father want to take a house loan.. does our car loan affect house loan amount .. i kw it does.. but as emi’s are paid by me..will there be any chance for full eligibility

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayJanuary 12, 2017Staff

      Hi Lokesh,

      Thanks for your question.

      Each lender has their own set of lending criteria which borrowers must meet in order to qualify for a home loan. Generally, they will assess your serviceability by looking at your assets, income and even other liabilities. In the event that may still consider your home loan even if you still have a current car loan, it will most likely affect and reduce your expected home loan amount. I would suggest that you contact the lender first and discuss your loan options with them.


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