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How to get a home loan in Australia

As one of the biggest financial decisions you may ever make, getting a home loan can seem overwhelming. Here’s our step-by-step guide to make it easier.

Taking out a home loan in Australia isn't as simple as applying with a bank and waiting to be approved. There are other steps to take to make sure you're ready and here we go through each of them:

1. Understand your eligibility

There are several basic criteria you need to meet before you can take out a home loan. Some lenders may have their own specific criteria as well, but in general you:

  1. Must be at least 18 years of age.
  2. Should be on a regular income and this income must be sufficient to not just meet the repayments, but to be comfortable in doing so.
  3. Should have stable employment. Many lenders will only lend to borrowers who are fully employed. You can still be eligible for a loan if you are self-employed or a gig worker, but you will need to provide additional income information.
  4. Will typically need to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident. You can also find loan options if you are a temporary resident of Australia.
  5. Will normally have to show your ability to save with 3 - 6 months of bank statements.

2. Save your deposit

The most difficult step for many borrowers is saving for a deposit, but this is something you need to do to take out a home loan.

For most home loans you will need a deposit of 20% of the property value. However, there are ways you can get a home loan with a low deposit and in some cases, no deposit at all.

There are government grants and schemes available for first home buyers to take out a home loan with as little as a 5% deposit.

Even without one of these incentives, borrowers can use a 5% deposit if they pay lender's mortgage insurance (LMI).

Take a look at our tips on saving a deposit

3. Prepare your finances

Banks won't lend you money if you can't afford to pay it back, so it's important to demonstrate that you have the finances to do so.

You should be able to show that your savings account has a good balance. Not only that, you should be able to prove that you are able to regularly add money. Put a set amount into your savings account each time you get paid.

If you don't already have savings or you don't regularly add to your savings, this can take several months to get to this point.

Start by making a budget. Take a look at what you earn and what your vital expenses are to work out how much disposable money you have.

Then allocate yourself a feasible amount each week that you can spend, but make sure a good amount goes to your savings. Use a high interest savings account to give your savings a little extra boost.

This might mean you need to cut back on spending on certain things. Some easy areas to cut back on include streaming services, gym memberships, takeaways and eating/drinking out.

Stick to the budget and build up your savings. This will prove to the lender that you can not only make repayments on a loan, but that you have a buffer if those repayments were to increase.

4. Work out your borrowing power

You can usually work out a rough estimate of how much you'll be able to borrow before you apply. This will allow you to determine your budget when looking at properties, as well as how much you'll likely end up paying in monthly repayments.

It's important to do this before you start looking at homes or loans. You don't want to get into a situation where you bid for a home you can't afford or apply for a home loan you have no chance of getting.

Use Finder's borrowing power calculator to see how much you could borrow

5. Compare home loans

Once you've got your finances in check and you've saved a deposit, it's time to start comparing home loans.

If you don't know what you're looking for, there are a few key things to consider:

  1. Interest rates: The obvious one, but by all means not the only thing you should look at. Essentially, the lower the interest rate, the lower your repayments will be.
  2. Fees and charges: Look beyond the interest rate at the fees a lender may charge. This may include an application fee, settlement fee, account-keeping fees and a fee for the offset account. Look at the comparison rate to see whether the ongoing fees bump up the monthly repayments.
  3. Features: Consider what features you want for your home loan. An offset account is probably the biggest one, but you might want to make extra repayments, split your account into a fixed portion and a variable portion or get a package loan.
  4. Eligibility criteria: Some lenders have specific requirements for who they lend to. For example, they may only lend to a specific region or to those in specific employment.

6. Mortgage pre-approval

Pre-approval is where a lender gives you approval for a home loan

Obtaining pre-approval from a lender means you know exactly how much you can borrow and therefore, what properties you should be looking at.

Also known as conditional pre-approval, there are still conditions you need to meet before being fully approved for the loan.

This is not something you need to do and not every lender offers it, but it is helpful to know how much you have to spend if you're bidding at auction.

Mortgage brokers

Rather than completing the entire application process by yourself, you might want to use a mortgage broker.

Mortgage brokers will go through the entire process from beginning to end, helping you with your financial situation and talking you through the various loan options. They will apply for pre-approval and the home loan on your behalf, gathering all of the relevant documents for a seamless process.

Most mortgage brokers do not charge for their service, instead they are paid a commission by the bank based on your loan amount.

7. Find your property

Whether you're armed with pre-approval or you've just worked out a rough estimate of your borrowing power, you need to find the property you want to buy before you apply for a home loan.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to choosing property:

  • Location: Consider how far you want to live from schools or your place of work, as well as grocery stores, parks or other amenities.
  • Property type: Consider whether you want an apartment or a house.
  • Property size: Consider the size of property you would like and whether you need garden space.
  • Your future plans: If you're planning on living in the property for some time you will need to think about whether that changes the property you want to buy. You might be ok with a small apartment at the start, but if you're thinking of starting or growing your family or buying a pet, you might need a bigger place. If you might switch jobs in the near future, think about whether proximity to your workplace is something you really need to consider.
  • Whether you will live in it or rent it out: If the property you're buying is an investment property you might think about the property a little differently. For example, you might get a higher rental return if the property is in a central location or has amenities like a pool.

Conveyancers

When buying a property you will need to get a property conveyancer who handles the legal side of things to ensure the sale is legitimate. This includes organising mortgage documents and the contract of sale, carrying out a title search on your behalf to ensure there are no other mortgages on the property and organising a land survey.

The costs of a property conveyancer vary depending on how much they need to do, but you can expect to pay anything from $700 to $2,500 when you buy or sell a property. It generally costs more to buy a property than when you sell.

8. Submit your application

If you've been successful at auction for a property, or you've bought privately, it's time to submit your application.

While most lenders now prefer you to do this through an online application, you can apply in person at banks with branches or you might be able to meet with a mobile lender to help you through the application.

You'll need to provide bank statements, employment evidence and proof of identity. If you're approved, you'll be given a date of settlement – when the funds are available.

Why you can trust Finder's home loan experts

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Unlike other comparison sites, we're not owned by a third party. That means our opinions are our own and we work with lots of home loan lenders, making it easier for you to find a good deal.
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Since 2014, we've helped 150,000+ people find a home loan by explaining the nitty gritty details simply and clearly. We'll never ask for your number or email. We're here to help you make a decision.

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Name Interest Rate p.a. Comparison Rate p.a. Fees Monthly Payment
Principal & Interest20% min. depositOwner-occupierOffset account
Interest Rate
6.19%
Comparison Rate
6.44%
Fees
Application: $0
Ongoing: $248 p.a.
Monthly Payment
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Principal & Interest20% min. depositOwner-occupier
Interest Rate
6.19%
Comparison Rate
6.21%
Fees
Application: $0
Ongoing: $0 p.a.
Monthly Payment
Go to site
Principal & Interest20% min. depositOwner-occupier
Interest Rate
5.99%
Comparison Rate
5.90%
Fees
Application: $0
Ongoing: $0 p.a.
Monthly Payment
Go to site
Principal & Interest10% min. depositOwner-occupier
Interest Rate
6.08%
Comparison Rate
6.14%
Fees
Application: $345
Ongoing: $0 p.a.
Monthly Payment
Points offer
Borrowers can earn 100,000 Qantas points every year, for the life of the loan when they take out a home loan with Qantas.
Principal & Interest10% min. depositOwner-occupier
Interest Rate
5.94%
Comparison Rate
5.95%
Fees
Application: $0
Ongoing: $0 p.a.
Monthly Payment
Principal & Interest20% min. depositOwner-occupierOffset account
Interest Rate
6.09%
Comparison Rate
6.43%
Fees
Application: $0
Ongoing: $395 p.a.
Monthly Payment
$3,000 refinance cashback offer
Eligible refinancers who apply online and borrow $250K+ (LVR 80% or lower) can get a $3,000 cashback. Terms and conditions apply.
Principal & Interest 2Y Fixed20% min. depositOwner-occupier
Interest Rate
6.59%
Comparison Rate
7.64%
Fees
Application: $0
Ongoing: $395 p.a.
Monthly Payment
$2,000 cashback
Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get a $2,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
Principal & Interest 3Y Fixed20% min. depositOwner-occupier
Interest Rate
5.99%
Comparison Rate
6.97%
Fees
Application: $0
Ongoing: $349 p.a.
Monthly Payment
More Info
Principal & Interest10% min. depositOwner-occupier
Interest Rate
6.69%
Comparison Rate
6.70%
Fees
Application: $0
Ongoing: $0 p.a.
Monthly Payment
Principal & Interest10% min. depositOwner-occupier
Interest Rate
6.39%
Comparison Rate
6.40%
Fees
Application: $0
Ongoing: $0 p.a.
Monthly Payment
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