How much should you borrow for your home loan?

How much should you borrow for your home loan

When you’re applying for a home loan, the amount you’re eligible to borrow may be different than the amount you actually should borrow.

Banks have some sophisticated systems for deciding the maximum amount of money they will lend you. They take into account all your assets and liabilities, look at the median spending habits for people in similar situations and build in interest rate buffers to ensure that you can still afford your home loan should rates rise.

What banks can’t take into account is your particular personality. Only you know your own budgetary discipline. This means you need to take into account not just how much you can borrow, but how much you should borrow.

How banks decide what you can borrow

Lenders decide how much you can borrow based on serviceability calculations. These calculations take into account your income from various sources along with your expenses. Lenders then look at the proposed debt as a proportion of your monthly income and build in a buffer for potential interest rate rises.

How banks calculate serviceability

When calculating your expenses, lenders vary in their approach. While some look at your actual expenditure, others use models that estimate your expenses. They do this by looking at the median Australian household spend for basics such as food, utilities and transport, and then adding in a set amount for discretionary spending.

How banks calculate your expenses

Based upon the lender’s calculations of your monthly expenditure and your monthly income, lenders will decide the maximum amount of additional debt they believes you can service. In deciding on the size of the home loan to offer you, lenders will also take into account the type of property you’re buying and the size of the deposit you have.

How you should decide what you can borrow

What the bank will lend you may differ from the amount you feel you can comfortably repay. In some cases, a lender’s estimate may be on the low side, and you might be disappointed by the maximum amount available to you. In other cases, a lender may be willing to extend you more credit than you feel comfortable accepting.

Before you decide how much you should borrow, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

What kind of lifestyle do I want?

In all likelihood, taking on a home loan means you’ll have to make a few changes in your lifestyle. While home ownership comes with many positive lifestyle changes, it can also mean some changes that might not be so welcome.

Taking on the responsibility of a home loan could mean you’ll have to curtail your spending in other areas. If you’re used to going out, spending on takeaways or buying a lot of discretionary items, you may have to significantly adjust your lifestyle once you have home loan repayments to make. How significantly will depend on how much you borrow.

To get an idea of the amount a home loan will add to your monthly expenditure, you can use the repayment calculator below. You can look at various borrowing scenarios to see what your repayments will be if you borrow different amounts.

Before deciding on the amount you’re comfortable borrowing, have a look at your current average monthly expenditure. Once you’ve figured this out, honestly assess what sacrifices you’re willing to make to pay your home loan repayments.

Am I comfortable paying LMI?

One of the factors that will determine the amount lenders will offer you is the size of your deposit. Some lenders will approve home loans with as little as a 5% deposit, but if you choose to take this option, you’ll find yourself paying lenders mortgage insurance (LMI).

LMI is an insurance policy that covers your lender in the event you default on your home loan. It’s charged when you borrow more than 80% of the value of the property you’re buying. LMI can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a home loan and will end up increasing your home loan repayments.

If the added burden of paying LMI is too much, you might need to rethink the amount you want to borrow. If you can keep your loan-to-value ratio (LVR) below 80%, you can avoid having to pay this added expense.

How disciplined am I?

Once you’ve decided on the kind of lifestyle you’re comfortable with, you’ll have to assess whether you have the discipline to stick to your new lifestyle.

You’ll need to take an honest look at your own financial discipline before you decide to take on a home loan. It takes a fair amount of discipline to service any home loan, but a home loan debt that substantially increases your monthly expenditures will require a very disciplined approach.

While it’s important to work out a budget based upon the standard of living you’d like to have, sticking to this budget will be the difficult part. If you have a budget and find that you typically overspend, you need to factor this into your assessment when deciding how much to borrow. If financial discipline is difficult for you, leave yourself some leeway in your home loan repayments.

What life changes might be on the horizon?

A budget and an honest assessment of your discipline will give you a good idea of the home loan you can afford right now, but you’ll also want to prepare yourself for the future. Any life changes could impact your ability to repay your home loan. Although some life changes are unforeseeable, you can factor others into your financial plan right now.

If you plan on having children in the next few years, you’ll want to factor this added expense into your calculations. Likewise, if you’re looking at a career change in the medium term, think about the impact this could have on your income.

If you’re borrowing as a single person, you might want to consider the possibility that one day you’ll be repaying your home loan as a couple. Adding another person to the mix can help alleviate some of the financial burden, but keep in mind that you’ll also be adding that person’s debt and expenses to what you need to pay.

You might not be able to predict all of the life changes that could happen during the term of your home loan, but it’s wise to leave yourself some breathing room just in case.

What extra costs will I face?

The expense of a home doesn’t end with a home loan. Before you even move in, you’ll also need to budget for a variety of expenses involved in the home buying process. You’ll likely have to pay stamp duty, legal fees and fees for building and pest inspections. After the home loan settlement, you’ll also have to pay for removalists to help you move into your new home.

There are also ongoing expenses associated with homeownership. In addition to your home loan repayments, you’ll have to factor in home and contents insurance payments, council rates, utilities, maintenance and upkeep. Depending on the type of property you move into, you may also have strata or body corporate fees.

These costs add up and can be a significant monthly expense. When deciding on how much you should borrow, you should keep these ongoing expenses in mind along with your home loan repayment.

Hidden costs of homeownership

Lenders are fairly conservative in their assessment of what you can afford. It doesn’t behove them to lend money that borrowers are unable to repay. But as conservative as they might be, they can’t factor in some of your unique personal circumstances. By taking the time to assess your own lifestyle and financial discipline, you can make sure you don’t take on more than you can afford.

Compare today's home loan rates

Rates last updated February 19th, 2018
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Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
3.59%
3.60%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Enjoy a low variable rate with no ongoing fees and borrow up to 90% of the value of the property.
3.52%
3.54%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A basic home loan with a competitive rate and low fees.
3.49%
4.49%
$0
$375 p.a.
90%
Discount off an already competitive interest rate for loans over $150k. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.58%
3.59%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable rate product with no application or valuation fees offered by a 100% online lender.
3.54%
3.58%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A variable rate home loan with competitive rate, redraw facility and offset account.
3.69%
4.86%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
A special rate for first home buyers buying residential property and borrowing over $150K. 350K NAB Rewards Points offer available. Terms and conditions apply.
3.74%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application fee or ongoing fees with this loan.
3.69%
3.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A special limited time offer for owner occupiers. An IMB Transaction Account must be opened with this loan.
3.64%
3.67%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A low rate home loan with no ongoing fees.
3.99%
4.00%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A low-fee variable rate investor loan with a fast online application process.
3.65%
3.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A competitive variable rate home loan with no application fee.
3.77%
3.81%
$200
$0 p.a.
95%
A basic home loan with a low interest rate and a redraw facility available.
3.69%
3.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Enjoy a low variable interest rate and no application or ongoing fees.
3.68%
3.83%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
A low interest rate home loan that allows borrowers to borrow up to 80% of the property value.
3.74%
3.75%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A special variable rate home loan with no application or ongoing fees.
3.62%
3.62%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A discounted, competitive variable rate loan with limited fees.
3.74%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
A low rate home loan with no application or ongoing fees. Free home & contents insurance for 1 year. T&Cs apply. Note that to be eligible for this loan you must be QLD resident.
3.64%
3.67%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A home loan with a competitive variable rate, limited fees and plenty of flexibility.
3.74%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
110%
Requires a family member to act as guarantor. Discounted rate available with family pledge loans. Family pledge loans
require no LMI and no deposit. NSW, Qld and ACT only.
3.64%
4.03%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
Apply for a new owner occupier loan or refinance from another lender and receive this discounted rate.
3.78%
3.78%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A basic low-rate home loan that still offers some useful features.
3.72%
4.19%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Enjoy a variable rate with the Bankwest Equaliser Home Loan.
4.11%
4.01%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Enjoy a fast application process and flexible repayment options with this fixed rate investment loan.
3.74%
3.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A competitive variable rate with a redraw facility. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
4.09%
4.12%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
This loan has a high max insured LVR, making it an option for low deposit borrowers.
3.99%
4.62%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Fix your interest rate and pay principal and interest repayments on your investment.
4.14%
4.14%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
An investment home loan with competitive rate and 100% offset account.
3.73%
3.73%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A special low variable rate for owner occupiers with 100% offset account and no application or ongoing fees.
3.65%
4.84%
$0
$395 p.a.
90%
A 2 years fixed platinum package that has $0 application and a loan redraw facility.
3.88%
4.89%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
A fixed rate package with flexible repayment options. 350K NAB Rewards Points offer available. Terms and conditions apply.
4.09%
4.11%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Access a fee-free offset account and a special interest rate for investors.
3.89%
4.87%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Enjoy a low interest rate and borrow up to 90% (with LMI) of your property's value.
3.96%
3.98%
$350
$0 p.a.
90%
Take advantage of a redraw facility, competitive variable rate and no application or settlement fees for a limited time.
3.97%
4.02%
$445
$0 p.a.
90%
Get a competitive rate without features you may not use.
3.84%
4.83%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a competitive 2-year fixed rate with no application or ongoing fees.
3.97%
3.97%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A competitive variable rate home loan with no ongoing fees.
3.64%
3.64%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A low-rate basic home loan requiring a 30% deposit.
3.69%
4.00%
$0
$350 p.a.
95%
Fix your rate for 3 years and borrow up to 95% LVR.
3.94%
3.97%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Access the equity in your home with a competitive interest-only rate and no application fee.
4.09%
4.11%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A low variable rate loan with no application or ongoing fees.
4.19%
4.19%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Access to redraw facility and offset account without the annual fee.
3.69%
4.47%
$0
$375 p.a.
90%
Discount off an already competitive 2 year fixed rate for loans over $150k. NSW,QLD and ACT residents only.
3.58%
3.58%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A low interest rate home loan with no application or ongoing fees.
3.68%
3.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
A no frills loan with a competitive rate and a maximum LVR of 95%.
3.88%
3.81%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
A competitive 3-year fixed rate loan with a high max insured LVR.
3.85%
4.82%
$600
$35 monthly ($420 p.a.)
90%
Low fixed rate offer from HSBC. Reverts to a discounted variable rate after the initial term.
3.64%
3.65%
$500
$0 p.a.
95%
A basic home loan with a promotional variable interest rate.
3.88%
4.88%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
Refinance from your existing loan and get a $1,250 rebate. Lock in a discounted fixed rate with a low service fee.
3.69%
3.71%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A low rate variable home loan offer with no monthly fees or application fee charge.
3.64%
3.78%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
A competitive variable rate home loan with flexible features. You can earn 30,000 Velocity Points for every $100k you borrow (for a limited time, subject to eligibility requirements).
3.69%
3.69%
$0
$398 p.a.
70%
Enjoy a low variable rate with no application and ongoing fees.
3.87%
3.87%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
90%
Get a competitive interest rate for 3 years and a discounted variable rate when the fixed period ends.
3.79%
3.80%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive rate with no ongoing monthly fees or application fees.
3.99%
4.03%
$0
$0 p.a.
95%
Enjoy a basic home loan with a high LVR and no application or ongoing fees.
3.85%
4.95%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
A discounted package rate for owner occupiers with the ability to package a Qantas rewards earning Amplify credit card. $1,500 cashback available for refinancers. Conditions apply.
3.99%
4.99%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
A package home loan with fee free extra repayments available during the fixed term.
4.39%
5.42%
$300
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
95%
Lock in a competitive fixed rate for 3 years.
3.59%
4.42%
$600
$0 p.a.
95%
This competitive introductory rate is a limited time offer for new owner-occupiers
3.68%
3.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get a low variable rate along with some important basic features.

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