How much equity do I need to refinance?

If you don't have at least 20% equity in your home, refinancing your home loan becomes difficult and expensive.

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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 your equity is less than 20% of the property's value then your new lender will charge you lenders mortgage insurance (LMI).

First up: What is 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

Graphic explaining home equity.

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 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 Finder's LMI calculator.

Home valueEquityLVRLMI cost
350,00060,00082.86%$1,728
500,00050,00090%$8,428
600,00080,00086.67%$7,316

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.

Refinancing home loans comparison

Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp. Rate (p.a.) Fees Monthly Payment

HSBC Fixed Rate Home Loan Package P&IHome 2Y Fixed≥ 20% Deposit

HSBC Fixed Rate Home Loan Package
1.88%
2.87%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $390 p.a.
$3,288 refinance cashback offer
Lock in a low fixed rate for 2 years and buy your home with a 20% deposit. Eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get a $3,288 cashback. Terms and conditions apply.

Nano Variable Home Loans P&IHome≥ 25% Deposit Refi Only

Nano Variable Home Loans
1.99%
1.99%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
Switch to this competitive variable rate with zero fees. Requires a 25% deposit.

UBank UHomeLoan Fixed P&IHome 1Y Fixed≥ 20% Deposit

UBank UHomeLoan Fixed
1.79%
2.18%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
Fix your mortgage for 1 year with a very competitive rate and no ongoing fees.

Athena Variable Home Loan P&IHome≥ 40% Deposit

Athena Variable Home  Loan
1.99%
1.99%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $0 p.a.
Owner occupiers with 40% deposits or equity can get this competitive variable rate loan. No upfront or ongoing fees.

St.George Fixed Rate Home Loan with Advantage Package P&IHome 2Y Fixed≥ 20% Deposit

St.George Fixed Rate Home Loan with  Advantage Package
1.84%
3.38%
  • App: $0
  • Ongoing: $395 p.a.
$3,000 refinance cashback
Borrowers with 20% deposits or equity can get this competitive fixed rate loan. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get a $3,000 cashback (Apply by 30 November 2021. Terms and conditions apply). Refinancers Only.
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