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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.

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How much should you borrow for your home loan

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 believe 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

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Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I (*now 2.59%, drops to 2.54% on 30 Sep)
2.54%
2.46%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable rate mortgage for owner occupiers $0 application and $0 ongoing fees. This interest rate falls over time as you pay off the loan. This rate will drop to 2.54% p.a on 30 September 2020 for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Athena Evaporate Home Loan - 60% to 70% LVR  Owner Occupier, P&I
2.49%
2.43%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A low variable rate for owner occupiers with 30% deposits. This rate takes effect from 30 September for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
Homestar Star Essentials Home Loan - $250K to $850K LVR up to 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
2.32%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A low rate variable mortgage with minimal fees and redraw facility. Requires a 20% deposit. Eligible refinancers can receive up to $1,500 cashback. Conditions apply.
Virgin Money Reward Me Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year $300k+ Special offer (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
2.91%
$300
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
Buy your home and lock in a low rate for the first two years. Get a $2,500 cashback when you switch to Virgin Money with a loan amount of $300,000 or more with an LVR up to 80%. You must apply by 28 August and settle by 30 October 2020.
Athena Celebrate Home Loan - 60% LVR  Owner Occupier, P&I
2.39%
2.39%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
A very low variable rate for home buyers with 40% deposits or equity. This rate takes effect from 30 September for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR ≤ 60% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
2.59%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
A competitive variable rate home loan for owner-occupiers. Requires a 40% deposit.
ING Mortgage Simplifier Home Loan - $150,000 to $500,000 (LVR <=80% Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
2.62%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
This low, variable rate loan has no ongoing fees and a redraw facility. Requires a 20% deposit.
Bankwest Complete Home Loan Package Variable - $200k to <$750k LVR <=80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.73%
3.18%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
A low variable rate loan with a 100% offset account and package discounts.
Homestar Star Classic Owner Occupied Fixed Special
1.98%
2.51%
$495
$0 p.a.
80%
A very low 1-year fixed rate for home buyers. Requires a 20% deposit.
Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.74%
2.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application and ongoing fees and take advantage of split and redraw options.
Yard Variable Home Loan - LVR 80% Special (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.39%
2.42%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A very low variable rate loan for home buyers with an optional offset account ($10 monthly fee). 20% deposit required.
Heritage Bank Discount Variable Home Loan - LVR <=80% (Owner Occupier, P&I) New Customers Only
2.78%
2.80%
$600
$0 p.a.
80%
Family guarantee option available. Enjoy flexible repayments and a low minimum loan amount.
Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR ≤ 90% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
3.14%
3.14%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Borrow up to $750K with an LVR ≤ 90% and pay no application fee.
ING Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier with Orange Advantage)
2.19%
3.79%
$0
$299 p.a.
95%
Owner-occupiers can enjoy a discounted fixed rate, a rate lock feature and the ability to make additional repayments.
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer LVR 90% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.80%
2.81%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A competitive value home loan with no ongoing fee.
Bank of Melbourne Basic Home Loan - Special Offer (Owner Occupiers, P&I) LVR above 60% up to 80%
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.
Bluestone Prime Direct (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
2.63%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Bluestone's Prime Direct is a competitive variable rate home loan for borrowers with 30% deposits.
Hunter United No Regrets Home Loan - Owner Occupier
2.79%
2.79%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Home buyers can get a competitive variable rate loan with a 100% offset account and low fees.
UBank UHomeLoan - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.14%
2.41%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive fixed interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Requires a 20% deposit.
BankSA Basic Home Loan - Owner Occupier, P&I
2.64%
2.66%
$500 (waived for loans above $150,000)
$0 p.a.
80%
Refinancers borrowing $200,000 or more can get can get up to $3,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply). Buyers and refinancers can get this competitive variable interest rate. A low variable interest rate for home buyers and refinancers. Application fee waived for loans above $150,000.
Suncorp Home Package Plus Fixed - 2 Year Fixed Rate Special Offer $150k+ LVR ≤90% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
3.32%
$0
$375 p.a.
90%
A low fixed rate loan available for borrowers with 10% deposits. Refinance to an eligible Suncorp loan and get a cashback of $2,000 or $3,000, depending on your loan amount. Other conditions apply.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.14%
2.46%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Fix your mortgage for 1 year with a very competitive rate and no ongoing fees.
Athena Variable Home Loan - Owner Occupier, IO (*now 3.09%, drops to 3.04% on 30 Sep)
3.04%
2.68%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Owner occupiers can refinance to one of the most competitive interest-only rates in the market. No application fee and no ongoing fees. This rate will drop to 3.04% p.a on 30 September 2020 for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Investor, P&I)
2.29%
2.84%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society  Premium Plus Package Fixed Rate - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.44%
3.76%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
Enjoy a discounted fixed rate and the ability to package the loan with other financial products. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
IMB Budget Home Loan - Special LVR <=90% (Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.78%
2.84%
$449
$0 p.a.
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. You can get an interest rate discount for a limited time with this competitive variable mortgage.
Heritage Bank Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I) New Customers Only
2.59%
4.26%
$600
$8 monthly ($96 p.a.)
95%
Get a partial offset account and the option to make interest-only repayments.
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Investor Variable P&I Rate
2.89%
2.89%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a discounted, low-fee investor loan from a convenient online lender. 20% deposit required.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (LVR 90% Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.39%
3.14%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. 2 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online. Available with a 5% deposit.
Greater Bank Great Rate Discount Variable with Family Pledge Home Loan - Up to 110% LVR
2.94%
2.95%
$0
$0 p.a.
110%
Pay no deposit or LMI and get a discounted rate with this family pledge loan. Requires a family member to act as guarantor. NSW, QLD and ACT only.
CUA Achieve Variable Home Loan - $500k+ (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.73%
2.78%
$600
$0 p.a.
95%
Home buyers can get a competitive, low-fee variable rate plus a 100% offset account. Low deposit option available. Eligible new home buyers with low deposits can apply for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme with this lender and avoid LMI costs.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Real Deal Home Loan - Special Offer 1 (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
2.63%
$595
$0 p.a.
80%
$2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
CUA Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.49%
3.99%
$600
$0 p.a.
95%
Pay no ongoing fees and lock in your rate for 3 years to organise your budget. Eligible new home buyers with low deposits can apply for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme with this lender and avoid LMI costs.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Year Fixed (LVR 90% Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.39%
3.08%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. 3 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online. Available with a 10% deposit.
Greater Bank Great Rate Home Loan - Discounted 1 Year Fixed LVR ≤80% ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
2.09%
3.53%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get one of the lowest rates on the market with this fixed rate mortgage. Available with just a 10% deposit. Guarantor option available. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society  Premium Plus Package Fixed Rate - 1 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.39%
3.85%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
Enjoy a competitive rate with no application fee for this package loan. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Years Fixed (LVR ≤90% Investor, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.74%
3.59%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. A 3 years fixed rate investor which allows extra repayments to be made.
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Important Information*
Logo for Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I (*now 2.59%, drops to 2.54% on 30 Sep)
Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I (*now 2.59%, drops to 2.54% on 30 Sep)

A competitive variable rate mortgage for owner occupiers $0 application and $0 ongoing fees. This interest rate falls over time as you pay off the loan. This rate will drop to 2.54% p.a on 30 September 2020 for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.

Logo for UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate

Take advantage of a low-fee mortgage with a special interest rate of just 2.49% p.a. and a 2.49% p.a. comparison rate.

Logo for HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)

Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online.

Logo for Suncorp Back to Basics Home Loan - Better Together Special Offer $150k+ LVR<=90% Incl. LMI (Owner Occupier, P&I)
Suncorp Back to Basics Home Loan - Better Together Special Offer $150k+ LVR<=90% Incl. LMI (Owner Occupier, P&I)

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.

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