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How much equity do I need to refinance?

The amount of equity you have in your home can determine your refinancing options.

When you choose to refinance your existing home loan, you should take into account the amount of equity you’ve built up in your home. If you don't have enough equity refinancing could be a bad idea.

First up: What is equity?

Graphic explaining home equity.When you make payments towards the principal amount of your home loan you build up equity in your home. The equity is the difference between your home's value and what you have left to repay on your loan.

This is the money you can expect to remain if you sell your home and repay your loan with the proceeds from the sale.

For example, if you live in a home worth $750,000 and you still have to repay $250,000, you have $500,000 in equity. The equation for equity is given below:

Equity = property value - outstanding loan amount

How much equity do I need when refinancing?

Many loans come with a maximum LVR of 95%, which means you cannot borrow more than 95% of the value of your home. What this also means is that if you wish to refinance you must have at least 5% equity in your home.

To put yourself in the best position to refinance, you should have at least 20% equity in your home.

Applying for a refinanced home loan with no equity is difficult unless you can get someone to go guarantor. Find out more about how you can refinance your home loan with little or no equity.

Remember that lenders look at your equity as a means to assess risk. The more equity you have, the lower risk you present to the lender.

What if I don't have at least 20% in equity?

When you choose to refinance without at least 20% equity in your home, there's a good chance you'll have to pay lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) again. This is because you cannot transfer the existing LMI to the new loan, despite the fact that your previous lender is no longer at risk.

While getting a rebate when you terminate your LMI policy is possible, it’s crucial that you ask for it. Most LMI policies don't offer rebates if you've held your home loan for longer than 12 or 24 months. Even if you do get a rebate, this is usually not for the full amount. If you have to get LMI again, you could pay thousands.

Consider LMI costs in the following examples which use the Genworth LMI calculator.

Home valueEquityLVRLMI cost
350,00060,00082.86%$2,233
500,00050,00090%$9,585
600,00080,00086.67%$9,048

As you can see, the cost of LMI can be highly expensive which can outweigh the value of any savings you could net from switching lenders.

Alternative options

Before comparing refinancing options, find out how much equity you have in your home. If you don’t have a 20% deposit saved but aren’t far off the mark, it might make sense to wait until you've built up a higher amount of equity. Check out this helpful guide to paying off your mortgage faster (and thus building equity).

Alternatively, you can consider applying for a guarantor home loan or applying with specialist banks that may have less stringent lending criteria for refinance mortgages.

Need expert help? Speak to a mortgage broker

Refinancing home loans comparison

Data indicated here is updated regularly
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% p.a.
Offset account
Split account
Loan type
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Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Maximum Insured LVR Amount Saved Short Description
St.George Basic Home Loan - LVR 60% to 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.64%
2.66%
$500 (waived for loans above $150,000)
$0 p.a.
80%
Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get up to $3,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply). A low variable interest rate for home buyers and refinancers. Application fee waived for loans above $150,000.
Athena Variable Home Loan - Owner Occupier, P&I
2.59%
2.55%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Owner-occupiers with 20% deposits can get this competitive variable rate mortgage. $0 application fee and $0 ongoing fees.
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate
2.49%
2.49%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
Suncorp Back to Basics Home Loan - Better Together Special Offer $150k+ LVR<=90% Incl. LMI (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.78%
2.79%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get one free online redraw per month and pay no ongoing fees. Application fees are waived for loans above $150,000. Refinance to an eligible Suncorp loan and get a cashback of $2,000 or $3,000, depending on your loan amount. Other conditions apply.
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)
2.65%
2.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online.
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