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Home loan interest rate lock

A rate lock means you get the interest rate you applied for even if the lender raises it after you submit the application.

Imagine comparing home loans and finally finding the perfect loan with a great interest rate. You fill out your application and submit it. But while you're waiting for settlement to take place, the lender lifts rates on its home loans. By the time you get the keys to your place, your home loan has a higher rate. That's where a rate lock comes in handy.

How does a home loan rate lock work?

When you buy a property you need to get your home loan application sorted quickly. But there will be a delay between your loan approval and the actual settlement day, when you take possession of your home and start repaying your loan.

During this time, your lender could increase interest rates on its loans. If you pay a small fee you get a rate lock. This means you get the rate you applied for even if it jumps up during settlement.

Lenders offer rate locks on fixed rate loans, not variable rate loans. It's not always available, so check before you apply for a loan.

Example: Susan opts for a rate lock

Susan has been looking for her dream house for quite some time and finally has found one that suits her and her young family. She takes out a $450,000 loan over 30 years.

She has applied for a fixed home loan with a rate of 2.50% for three years. This means Susan can budget for her repayments accurately for 3 whole years. Settlement is 60 days, and Susan is worried that interest rates will rise soon. So she opts for a rate lock, with a $100 fee.

Some time after submitting the application, the rate for her loan rises to 2.75%. Because of her rate lock she has avoided a rate hike of 0.25%. In dollar terms this is a big saving. Susan's monthly repayments at 2.50% are $1,778. At 2.75% she would be stuck paying $1,837 a month. Over 3 years, that $400 rate lock fee has saved her $2,124 in interest charges.

Risks and benefits of locking in your rate

Pros

  • No surprises. You can apply for a fixed rate home loan and not worry about rates rising before your loan is approved.
  • If rates drop you can still benefit. If during the rate lock period rates drop, many lenders will still allow you to benefit from the lower rates. As always, check the terms and conditions.

Cons

  • Rate lock fees. Rate locks can cost between $300 to $750 and in some cases even more. This is a lot of money to pay, especially if rates don't rise during settlement.

More questions about rate locks

Written by

Richard Whitten

Richard Whitten is a money editor at Finder, and has been covering home loans, property and personal finance for 6+ years. He has written for Yahoo Finance, Money Magazine and Homely; and has appeared on various radio shows nationwide. He holds a Certificate IV in mortgage broking and finance (RG 206), a Tier 1 Generic Knowledge certification and a Tier 2 General Advice Deposit Products (RG 146) certification. See full profile

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    PeterFebruary 20, 2018

    Do I need to pay rate lock if it goes over 90 days and I am unable to settle the property?

      AvatarFinder
      MayMarch 12, 2018Finder

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your question.

      Locking your home loan interest rate usually comes with a fee. So if you’ve applied for it, yes, you still have to pay the fee even when you’re unable to settle your loan/it goes over 90 days. Contacting your lender directly is also best so they may be able to advise as to how much and when would the fee be charged.

      Cheers,
      May

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