How much SHOULD you borrow for your home loan? | Finder

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

Data updated regularly
$
years
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp. Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment
Westpac Flexi First Option Home Loan
2.29%
2.72%
$0
$8 monthly ($96 p.a.)
95%
$577.55
Up to $3,000 refinance cashback.
A flexible and competitive variable rate loan. Eligible borrowers refinancing $250,000 or more can get $2,000 cashback per property plus a bonus $1,000 for their first application. Other conditions apply.
St.George Fixed Rate Advantage Package
1.84%
3.38%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
$543.64
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
Borrowers with 20% deposits or equity can get this competitive fixed rate loan. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get up to $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
HSBC Fixed Rate Home Loan Package
1.88%
2.86%
$0
$390 p.a.
80%
$546.6
$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.
UBank UHomeLoan Fixed
1.75%
2.22%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$537
This very low fixed rate is only available until 29 April 2021. Other conditions apply. A competitive fixed rate loan with no ongoing fees. Requires a 20% deposit
Westpac Fixed Option Home Loan Premier Advantage Package
1.89%
3.46%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
$547.35
Up to $3,000 refinance cashback.
Eligible borrowers refinancing $250,000 or more can get up to $3,000 cashback. Other conditions apply.
St.George Basic Home Loan
2.49%
2.51%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$593.01
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
Get this low-rate variable loan with a 20% deposit and pay $0 application fee. Borrow from $150k (or $250k to be eligible for the cashback offer) (terms, conditions & exclusions apply).
Suncorp Home Package Plus Fixed
1.89%
2.85%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$547.35
Lock in a low fixed rate loan for two years and get the annual package fee waived in the first year. Available for borrowers with 20% deposits.
Athena Variable Home  Loan
2.19%
2.19%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
$569.91
Owner occupiers with 40% deposits or equity can get this competitive variable rate loan. No upfront or ongoing fees.
loans.com.au Smart Booster Discount Variable Home Loan
1.99%
2.47%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$554.81
Home buyers can get a very low discounted variable rate for the first year. This loan has a revert rate of 2.48%. Requires a 20% deposit. Add an offset account for an additional 0.10% on your interest rate.
AMP Bank Professional Package Fixed Loan
1.99%
3.1%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$554.81
Get a low fixed rate package with no application or settlement fee. Available with a 20% deposit. Other fees and charges apply.
Macquarie Bank Basic Fixed Home Loan
2.09%
2.43%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
$562.33
Get a low interest rate and a mortgage with flexible, basic features. No application or ongoing fees. Requires a 30% deposit. Refinancers can switch with a convenient digital application.
Well Home Loans Balanced Fixed Home Loan
1.89%
2.18%
$250
$0 p.a.
90%
$547.35
Owner occupiers can get a sharp fixed rate for the first year, plus an offset account. Available with a 10% deposit.
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate
2.34%
2.34%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$581.39
Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
HSBC Home Value Loan
2.44%
2.45%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$589.12
$3,288 refinance cashback offer
Get a low interest variable rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online. If you're refinancing $250,000 or above you can get a $3,288 cashback. Terms and conditions apply.
UBank UHomeLoan Fixed
1.99%
2.33%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$554.81
Fix your mortgage for 1 year with a very competitive rate and no ongoing fees.
86 400 Own Home Loan Fixed
2.15%
2.62%
$250
$250 p.a.
80%
$566.87
$2,000 cashback offer
A competitive fixed rate loan from an online-only smart bank. Requires a 20% deposit. Eligible new borrowers and refinancers can get a $2,000 cashback for a limited time.
Greater Bank Great Rate Fixed Home Loan
1.69%
3.49%
$0
$0 p.a.
110%
$532.6
Requires a family member to act as guarantor.
Get one of the lowest rates on the market with this fixed rate mortgage and borrow more with help from a family guarantor. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan
2.49%
2.49%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
$593.01
A competitive variable rate home loan for owner-occupiers. Requires a 40% deposit. Refinancers can switch with a convenient digital application.
ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed with Members Package
1.99%
3.33%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
$554.81
Lock in a competitive rate for owner occupiers for two years. Comes with a 100% offset account.
Suncorp Back to Basics Home Loan
2.44%
2.45%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$589.12
A competitive variable interest rate loan with low fees. The establishment fee is waived if you borrow $150,000 or more.
86 400 Neat Variable Home Loan
2.19%
2.2%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
$569.91
Get flexibility and the option to make unlimited extra repayments with this variable rate loan.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan
1.97%
2.81%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
95%
$553.31
NSW and ACT customers only. 3 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online. Available with a 10% deposit.
Well Home Loans Balanced Variable
2.17%
2.2%
$250
$0 p.a.
80%
$568.39
A very low interest rate for home buyers with 20% deposits saved. Add an offset account for a small fee.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
2.14%
2.16%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
$566.11
A competitive rate with no application or ongoing fees. This loan is not available for construction.
Virgin Money Reward Me Fixed Rate Home Loan
2.04%
2.79%
$300
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
$558.56
$3,000 refinance cashback.
Buy your home and lock in a low rate for the first two years. Get a $3,000 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 27 February 2021 and settle by 27 August 2021.
Bank of Melbourne Basic Home Loan
2.49%
2.51%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$593.01
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
A competitive variable rate loan. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get up to $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
Well Home Loans Balanced Fixed Home Loan
1.95%
2.17%
$250
$0 p.a.
90%
$551.82
A low fixed mortgage with an optional 100% offset account. Not available for construction purposes.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
2.24%
2.26%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
$573.72
This loan offers a competitive variable rate and a 100% offset account to help save you on interest repayments. This loan is not available for construction.
BankSA Basic Home Loan
2.49%
2.51%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$593.01
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
A competitive variable rate loan from BankSA. Refinancers borrowing $200,000 or more can get up to $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
Bank of Melbourne Advantage Package Fixed Home Loan
1.94%
3.21%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
$551.07
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
Lock in a low fixed rate loan for four years. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get up to $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
CUA Achieve Variable Home Loan
2.35%
2.4%
$600
$0 p.a.
95%
$582.16
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. Eligible refinancers can get a $2,000 pre-paid credit card when they switch to CUA.
Westpac Fixed Option Home Loan Premier Advantage Package
1.99%
3.29%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
$554.81
Up to $3,000 refinance cashback. Lock in a very low rate for four years with this owner occupier loan. Eligible borrowers refinancing $250,000 or more can get up to $3,000 cashback. Other conditions apply.
BankSA Advantage Package Fixed Home Loan
1.89%
3.43%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
$547.35
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback.
Fix to a low rate for two years and forget about rate rises. Refinancers borrowing $200,000 or more can get up to $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
Bank of Melbourne Advantage Package Fixed Home Loan
1.84%
3.38%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
$543.64
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
Get a competitive home loan rate for two years. Requires at least a 20% deposit. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get up to $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
loans.com.au Fixed
1.99%
2.7%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$554.81
Home buyers can lock in this low fixed rate for two years. This loan also allows extra repayments. Requires a 20% deposit.
BankSA Advantage Package Fixed Home Loan
1.99%
3.26%
$0
$395 p.a.
$554.81
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
A competitive fixed rate loan. Refinancers borrowing $200,000 or more can get up to $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
Heritage Bank Fixed Rate Home Loan
2.19%
4.23%
$600
$8 monthly ($96 p.a.)
95%
$569.91
Get a partial offset account and the option to make interest-only repayments.
St.George Fixed Rate Advantage Package
1.94%
3.21%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
$551.07
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
Lock in a very low rate for four years. Requires a 20% deposit. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get up to $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
Athena Variable Home  Loan
2.24%
2.21%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
$573.72
A low variable rate for owner occupiers with 30% deposits. No upfront or ongoing fees.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society  Premium Plus Package Fixed Rate
2.28%
3.84%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
$576.78
$2,000 refinance cashback
Enjoy a competitive rate with no application fee for this package loan. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed with Members Package
2.09%
3.27%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
$562.33
Get a low 3 year fixed rate with a 100% offset account and package discounts.
Greater Bank Great Rate Discount Variable with Family Pledge Home Loan
2.59%
2.6%
$0
$0 p.a.
110%
$600.83
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.
IMB Budget Home Loan
2.58%
2.64%
$449
$0 p.a.
80%
$600.05
A competitive variable rate for borrowers with 20% deposits saved. Available for NSW and ACT borrowers only.
Well Home Loans Balanced Fixed Home Loan
2.29%
2.29%
$250
$0 p.a.
90%
$577.55
A competitive 3 year investor rate with principal and interest repayments. Optional offset account with a $10 monthly fee. Not available for construction purposes.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
2.69%
2.52%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$608.71
A competitive rate with no application or ongoing fee. This loan is not available for construction.
ME Basic Home Loan
2.58%
2.6%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$600.05
This variable rate loan keeps the features simple and fees low. This loan is offered by a 100% online lender.
UBank UHomeLoan Fixed
2.14%
2.35%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$566.11
A one year fixed rate offer with no ongoing bank fees.
Heritage Bank Discount Variable Home Loan
2.59%
2.64%
$600
$0 p.a.
80%
$600.83
Family guarantee option available. Enjoy flexible repayments and a low minimum loan amount.
UBank UHomeLoan Fixed
2.14%
2.71%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$566.11
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed
2.64%
4.65%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$604.76
Lock in a competitive rate for 2 years, unlock package discounts and use a 100% offset account to minimise interest payments.
Heritage Bank Advantage Package Fixed
2.39%
3.15%
$0
$350 p.a.
95%
$585.25
Get a partial offset account and flexible repayments with this package loan.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
2.59%
2.42%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
$600.83
Macquarie Bank Offset Home Loan Package
2.49%
2.76%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
$593.01
A sharp variable rate with low fees for borrowers with 40% deposits or refinancers with equity in their properties. Refinancers can switch with a convenient digital application.
loans.com.au Smart Booster Discount Variable Home Loan
1.99%
2.71%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$554.81
If you have an owner occupier loan with loans.com.au you can also get this very low rate variable mortgage for your investment property. Principal and interest repayments. Add an offset account for an additional 0.10% on your interest rate.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
2.74%
2.76%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
$612.67
Access a fee-free offset account and a special interest rate for investors. This loan is not available for construction.
St.George Basic Home Loan
2.54%
2.56%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
$596.91
$2,000 cashback.
With this competitive variable rate loan from St.George, refinancers borrowing $250,000+ can get a $2,000 cashback (terms, conditions & exclusions apply)
Macquarie Bank Basic Fixed Home Loan
2.19%
2.53%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$569.91
Borrow up to $750,000 with this basic 3 years fixed rate home loan. Refinancers can switch with a convenient digital application.
Bank of Melbourne Basic Home Loan
2.54%
2.56%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
$596.91
$2,000 cashback
A competitive variable rate loan. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get a $2,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
2.39%
2.41%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$585.25
This investment loan keeps fees low, has a sharp interest rate and comes with a 100% offset account. This loan is not available for construction.
IMB Budget Home Loan
2.68%
2.74%
$449
$0 p.a.
95%
$607.92
NSW and ACT customers only. You can get an interest rate discount for a limited time with this competitive variable mortgage.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Real Deal Home Loan
2.59%
2.63%
$595
$0 p.a.
80%
$600.83
$2,000 refinance cashback
$2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate
2.74%
2.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$612.67
Get a discounted, low-fee investor loan from a convenient online lender. 20% deposit required.
Virgin Money Reward Me Variable Home Loan
2.59%
2.76%
$300
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
60%
$600.83
$3,000 refinance cashback.
A variable rate loan for owner occupiers with a 40% deposit (or equity) borrowing under $500,000. Get a $3,000 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 27 February 2021 and settle by 27 August 2021.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
2.29%
2.31%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
$577.55
A competitive rate with no application or ongoing fee. This loan is not available for construction.
ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed
2.14%
3.95%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$566.11
Get a low fixed rate and pay no application or ongoing fees.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan
1.89%
2.87%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
95%
$547.35
NSW and ACT customers only. Lock in a low fixed rate for two years. Available with a 5% deposit.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society  Premium Plus Package Fixed Rate
2.19%
3.72%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
$569.91
$2,000 refinance cashback
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.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset
2.59%
2.61%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
$600.83
Save on interest with a free 100% offset account and buy your property with just a 10% deposit. This loan is not available for construction.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan
2.49%
3.36%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
$593.01
NSW and ACT customers only. A 3 years fixed rate investor which allows extra repayments to be made.
ME Flexible Home Loan With Member Package
2.59%
3.05%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
$600.83
$2,000 cashback offer
A competitive variable rate package home loan with a 100% offset account. Eligible refinancers can get a $2,000 cashback.
UBank UHomeLoan Fixed
2.29%
2.72%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$577.55
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
HSBC Home Value Loan
2.54%
2.55%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
$596.91
A competitive value home loan with no ongoing fee.
Well Home Loans Balanced Fixed Home Loan
2.04%
2.17%
$250
$0 p.a.
90%
$558.56
A low 3 year fixed rate for home buyers. Add a 100% offset account with a $10 monthly fee. Not available for construction purposes.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan
2.29%
4.31%
$595
$0 p.a.
95%
$577.55
$2,000 refinance cashback
Borrow up to 95% LVR of the value of the property you're buying and pay no ongoing fees. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan
2.64%
2.64%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
$604.76
Pay no application and ongoing fees and take advantage of split and redraw options. Refinancers can switch with a convenient digital application.
Well Home Loans Balanced Variable
2.52%
2.55%
$250
$0 p.a.
90%
$595.35
A very low variable interest rate for borrowers with a 10% deposit. Add a 100% offset account for $10 a month. Not available for construction purposes.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Premium Plus Package Home Loan
2.94%
3.34%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
$628.65
$2,000 refinance cashback
New borrowers or refinancers can get a discounted rate with this package loan. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
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