The most important home loan FAQs answered

Rates and Fees verified correct on December 4th, 2016

Frequently asked questions on home loans

Home loans can be complicated products and here at finder.com.au we’re often flooded with questions. Take a look at our answers to the most common home loan questions.

There’s no shortage of questions about home loans. When it comes to providers, refinancing, stamp duty and taxes, consumers can be overwhelmed by complicated jargon and confusing rules. Take a look at the common home loan questions we receive here at finder.com.au and the answers to them.

What is a home loan?

A home loan is a loan provided for the purpose of purchasing a property, either as an owner-occupier or an investor. The lender provides the loan for a fixed time period, usually 25 or 30 years, and the borrower pays the loan back with interest.

What is the difference between a variable and fixed rate?

Home loan products are generally divided into either variable or fixed interest rate options. A variable rate can change from month to month, depending on the Reserve Bank of Australia’s official cash rate and other market conditions. This means your monthly repayment could change from one month to the next.

A fixed rate will not change for a set period of time, generally from one to five years. While variable rate loans often provide more options and added features, fixed rate loans provide stability and certainty.

What is a split rate?

A split rate, or split facility, gives borrowers the option to split their loan into two portions, with one portion variable and one fixed. This is good for borrowers who want the options and features provided by a variable rate loan, but also want some certainty around their repayments.

How do I figure out my repayments?

Your home loan repayments will be based on the amount of money you borrow, the loan term and the interest rate. To figure out your home loan repayments, you can use our repayment calculator.

What is a comparison rate?

Home loans often carry administrative fees. The advertised interest rate on a home loan is the base rate of interest you pay each month, but does not always give a good indication of the true cost of a home loan.

A comparison rate, however, takes into account the loan’s base interest rate and any other fees and charges and expresses this cost as a percentage. To work out a home loan’s true value, always make sure to look at the comparison rate.

How big a deposit do I need?

To qualify for a home loan, you’ll need to have a deposit. This means you will need cash on hand to cover a portion of the purchase price of the property you wish to buy. The amount you need can vary from one lender to another.

In general, most lenders and loan products require at least a 20% deposit. However, some lenders offer loans with deposits as low as 10% or 5%. The size of deposit required by a loan is indicated by the loan’s loan-to-value ratio, or LVR. For instance, a loan at 80% LVR would require you to pay a 20% deposit.

There are options for borrowers with no deposit; however, these require a family member to provide their property as a security for the loan. This is known as a guarantor loan, and you can find out more about how guarantor loans work in our guide.

Will I qualify?

When assessing home loan applications, lenders look at several criteria. They will examine your credit history to ensure you have a good track record of paying your bills on time. They will also look at your income and expenses to make sure you can afford your monthly repayments.

In looking at your income, a lender will assess all sources of income. This means if you generate income from a rental property, shares or other investments, these can be considered on your home loan application. Some Centrelink benefits are also considered eligible income.

Each lender has different criteria by which they assess applicants. However, nearly all lenders will want to see that you have good credit, a suitable income and good work history. There are options for borrowers with bad credit, but these loans often carry much higher interest rates and fees.

How much can I borrow?

How much you can borrow will depend on your income and expenses. Lenders want to ensure that you’re capable of making monthly repayments on your loan without undue financial hardship. In assessing your borrowing power, lenders also take into account the possibility that interest rates might rise in the future. They’ll want to make sure you can still afford your monthly repayments, even if rates increase.

While all lenders have different criteria, you can get a good estimate of your borrowing power by using our calculator.

What if I’m self employed?

While many lenders require you to provide PAYG summaries to prove your income and employment, there are specific loans for self employed borrowers. These are known as low doc or alt doc loans.

Low doc loans allow self employed borrowers to provide alternative forms of documentation to prove their income. These can include BAS statements, notices of assessment or accountant’s letters.

What documents do I need to apply?

In general, lenders will want you to provide proof of your identity, your income, your employment, your assets and your liabilities. You’ll need documentation for each of these.

For a full rundown of the documents you’ll need to have in order when you apply, read our comprehensive home loan documents guide.

How do I apply?

There are a number of ways to apply for a home loan. If you have a specific lender in mind, you can apply directly at a bank branch. Alternatively, you can compare lenders and loans using finder.com.au’s comparison tables. Once you’ve chosen the option that’s right for you, you can head to that lender’s provider page for detailed instructions on how to apply.

Some borrowers also choose to use mortgage brokers. Mortgage brokers receive a commission from lenders for introducing borrowers. Brokers can help guide you through the home loan process if you need extra help.

What is lenders mortgage insurance (LMI)?

Lenders mortgage insurance, or LMI, is an insurance policy that covers your lender against loan defaults. This means if you cannot pay your home loan, your lender is compensated by an insurer to protect them from financial loss.

It’s important to note that, while you pay the cost of LMI, the policy covers your lender, not you. LMI is generally only payable on loans above 80% LVR.

What is stamp duty?

Stamp duty is a tax imposed by state and territory governments on the purchase of assets such as homes and cars. The tax varies from state to state, and the amount you pay will depend upon the value of the property you’re purchasing. You can estimate the amount of stamp duty you’ll pay by using our calculator.

Some states and territories offer exemptions from stamp duty for first home buyers. These exemptions often require buyers to purchase a newly constructed property, and can vary based upon the value of the property being purchased. You can find a full rundown of exemptions in our stamp duty guide.

What is an offset account?

An offset account is a transaction account linked to a home loans. Offset accounts reduce the amount of interest payable on your home loan. They do this by offsetting the interest calculated on your loan by the amount in the account. For instance, if you have a home loan balance of $450,000, but have $25,000 in an offset account, you’ll only be charged interest on $425,000.

Offset accounts can help you pay down your home loan faster, and pay less in interest. However, home loans with offset accounts can sometimes carry additional fees.

What is a redraw facility?

A redraw facility allows you to draw out any extra money you’ve already paid on your home loan. In other words, if you make extra repayments to get ahead on your home loan, a redraw facility allows you to access those additional funds.

Redraw facilities can useful tools to help in case of emergency or to fund things like renovations or improvements, but home loans with redraw facilities often carry additional fees.

What is the difference between an investor loan and an owner-occupier loan?

The difference between a loan for investors and one for owner-occupiers is generally only the loan’s purpose, and perhaps its cost.

Your lender will want to know if you’re borrowing to purchase a property to live in, or as an investment. They may assess the applications by different sets of criteria depending upon the purpose of the loan.

While most loan products are available to either investors or owner-occupiers, loans to investors often carry higher interest rates.

What is negative gearing?

Negative gearing is a tax minimisation strategy used by property investors. This tax concession allows investors to offset any losses they make on an investment property against their personal income. In other words, if the home loan interest, maintenance and ongoing costs of maintaining an investment property cost more money than the property generates, a property investor can deduct this amount from their personal income at tax time.

What is capital gains tax?

Capital gains tax, or CGT, is tax paid on profit made from selling an asset. This profit is calculated by deducting the expenses associated with the asset from the final sale price of the asset. Capital gains tax is levied on the sale of property, but property owners can be eligible for a full or partial exemption from CGT depending on their circumstances.

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Refinancing Home Loans Comparison

Rates last updated December 4th, 2016.

Westpac Fixed Options Home Loan Premier Advantage Package - 2 Years

Interest rate is now 3.99%

November 28th, 2016

CUA Kick Start Variable Home Loan - 2 Years Introductory (Owner Occupier)

Comparative rate decreases by 0.03%

November 29th, 2016

UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Standard Variable Rate (Investor with Investor Extra Offer P&I)

Comparative rate decreases by 0.10% | Interest rate decreases by 0.10%

December 2nd, 2016

View latest updates

Jodie Humphries Jodie
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Loan purpose
Offset account
Loan type
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Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment
3.74% 3.74% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
HSBC Home Value Loan - Resident Owner Occupier only
Enjoy the low variable rate with $0 ongoing fee and borrow up to 90% LVR.
3.55% 3.57% $0 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
loans.com.au Essentials - Variable Refinancers Only (Owner Occupier, P&I)
A low-interest rate loan suited for refinancing with no application or ongoing fees.
3.59% 3.61% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Greater Bank Ultimate Home Loan - Discounted 1 Year Fixed ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
Discount off an already competitive interest rate for loans over $150k. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.59% 4.42% $0 $375 p.a. 85% Go to site More info
ANZ Breakfree Package Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier) $150k+
This 2 year fixed ANZ Breakfree Package rate comes with package discount and product bundle. Terms and conditions, package fee and fees, charges & eligibility criteria apply.
3.75% 4.62% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
ClickLoans The Online Home Loan - Owner Occupier ≤ 80% LVR
Enjoy a competitive interest rate when you have a deposit of at least 20%.
3.69% 3.69% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
NAB Choice Package Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
A fixed rate package loan with flexible repayments options. 250,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer point offer, conditions apply.
3.75% 4.87% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Bank Australia Basic Home Loan - Variable (Owner Occupier)
A competitive variable that allows borrowers to borrow from a minimum of $100,000 and $0 ongoing fee.
3.59% 3.60% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
CUA Kick Start Variable Home Loan - 2 Years Introductory (Owner Occupier)
Borrow up to 90% LVR and enjoy an introductory rate for the first 2 years.
3.69% 3.87% $600 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
State Custodians Standard Variable Spring Special - LVR 80% (Owner Occupier)
Special Owner Occupier Rate. Free Offset Account.
3.59% 3.92% $0 $299 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Australian Unity Kick Starter Home Loan
$0 ongoing service fees, maximum 80% LVR and a linked transaction account.
3.79% 3.82% $600 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
ME Bank Flexible Home Loan Fixed - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier)
A competitive 3 year fixed rate with a redraw facility and split loan options, plus no application fee.
3.84% 4.66% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Premium Plus Package Home Loan - New Customer Offer ($150,000+ Owner Occupier)
Apply for a new owner occupier loan or refinance from another lender and receive this discounted rate.
3.74% 4.12% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
IMB Budget Home Loan - LVR <=90% (Owner Occupier)
A competitive budget rate without any unwanted bells and whistles.
3.87% 3.92% $445 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Switzer Home Loan
No upfront or ongoing fees and a competitive variable rate for owner occupiers.
3.89% 3.89% $0 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
State Custodians Standard Variable Spring Special - LVR 90% (Owner Occupier)
Special Owner Occupier Rate. Free Offset Account.
3.69% 4.02% $0 $299 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Greater Bank Ultimate Home Loan - Discounted Variable ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
A discounted rate with 100% offset account. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.89% 4.27% $0 $375 p.a. 85% Go to site More info
Bank Australia Premium Home Loan Package - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier) LVR < 80%
Buy a new home even if you haven't yet sold your existing one with the bankmecu Bridging Loan
3.69% 4.24% $0 $350 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
IMB Accelerator Home Loan  - LVR <=80% $300k+ (Owner Occupier)
A two year discounted rate which reverts to an ongoing life of loan discount afterwards.
3.64% 4.39% $445 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Greater Bank Great Rate Home Loan - Discounted Variable ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
A competitive rate with redraw facility. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.89% 3.89% $0 $0 p.a. 85% Go to site More info
ClickLoans The Online Investor Home Loan - LVR <70%
An investment home loan with competitive rate and 100% offset account.
3.79% 3.79% $0 $0 p.a. 70% Go to site More info
Greater Bank Ultimate Home Loan - Discounted 2 Year Fixed ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
Discount off an already competitive 2 year fixed rate for loans over $150k. NSW,QLD and ACT residents only.
3.74% 4.40% $0 $375 p.a. 85% Go to site More info
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Years Fixed (Owner Occupier)
Enjoy a low interest rate and borrow up to 95% (with LMI) of your home value.
3.69% 4.76% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Bankwest Complete Home Loan Package Fixed - 5 Year Fixed Rate LVR <90% (Owner Occupier)
Get the security of knowing your repayments with this 5 year fixed rate package home loan.
3.98% 4.35% $0 $395 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
AMP Essential Home Loan  -  Owner Occupier
Take advantage of a redraw facility, competitive variable rate and no application or settlement fees for a limited time.
3.98% 4.00% $350 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Bank Australia Premium Home Loan Package - LVR<=80% $700k + (Owner Occupier)
Enjoy the discounted interest rate with redraw facility and no ongoing fees.
3.74% 4.09% $0 $350 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Beyond Bank Low Rate Special Home Loan
A special low variable rate for Owner Occupier with 100% offset account and no application or ongoing fees.
3.73% 3.73% $0 $0 p.a. 70% Go to site More info
Switzer Fixed Rate Home Loans - 2 Years Fixed Rate
A competitive 2 year fixed rate with your very own lending service manager.
3.97% 3.99% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Australian Unity Health, Wealth and Happiness Package - (Owner Occupier)
Get a 0.60% discount on your rate, a 100% offset account and no ongoing fees.
3.99% 4.02% $600 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 1 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
Get a short term fixed rate for that investment property with no application or ongoing fees.
3.69% 4.87% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
3.85% 4.26% $0 $395 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
CUA Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
A fixed home loan with no ongoing fees and flexible repayments options.
3.69% 4.56% $600 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
3.89% 3.89% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Switzer Investment Loan
An investment loan with no application or ongoing fees, and your very own lending service manager.
4.09% 4.09% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
IMB Essential Home Loan - LVR < 80% (Owner Occupier)
100% offset account, unrestricted additional repayments and no monthly account keeping fees
4.09% 4.09% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
ME Bank Flexible Home Loan Fixed - 2 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier)
No application or ongoing fees and a competitive 2 year fixed rate.
3.84% 4.75% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
NAB Base Variable Rate Home Loan - Owner Occupier (P&I)
A competitive no frills home loan with no application fees for a limited time. 250,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer point offer, conditions apply.
4.10% 4.14% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Commonwealth Bank Wealth Package Fixed Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
Fee free extra repayments available during the fixed term. $1,250 cash back offer for refinancers. Conditions apply.
3.84% 4.97% $0 $395 p.a. 95% More info
Suncorp Home Package Plus Fixed - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Special Offer $150k+ LVR <=90% Owner Occupier)
Lock in a special offer rate for 3 years for loans over $150k with LVR below 90%.
3.64% 4.26% $0 $375 p.a. 90% More info
St.George Fixed Rate Advantage Package -  2 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier)
A discounted package rate for owner occupiers with the ability to package a Qantas rewards earning Amplify credit card. $1,500 cash back available for refinancers, conditions apply.
3.99% 5.07% $0 $395 p.a. 95% More info
Westpac Fixed Options Home Loan Premier Advantage Package - 2 Years
A low interest rate home loan and competitive two year fixed rate.
3.99% 4.97% $0 $395 p.a. 95% More info
St.George Basic Home Loan - Promotional Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
A no frills loan with a competitive rate and a maximum LVR of 95%.
4.08% 4.09% $0 $0 p.a. 95% More info
Westpac Flexi First Option Home Loan - 3 Years Introductory Special Offer (New Owner Occupier, P&I)
A limited time deal for new owner occupiers. Advertised rate includes 1.03%p.a. discount for the first two years.
3.99% 4.37% $0 $0 p.a. 95% More info

Marc Terrano

A passionate publisher who loves to tell a story. Learning and teaching personal finance is his main lot at finder.com.au. Talk to him to find out more about home loans.

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HSBC Home Value Loan - Resident Owner Occupier only

Enjoy the low variable rate with $0 ongoing fee and borrow up to 90% LVR.

ME Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR <=80% Owner Occupier

A low variable rate loan with no application or ongoing fees.

NAB Choice Package Home Loan - 3 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)

Receive discounts on interest rates with the Choice Package. 250,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer point offer, conditions apply.

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