How to choose a home loan

Rates and Fees verified correct on December 11th, 2016

Selecting the right home loan is a big decision. Help yourself make the right one by learning how to choose a home loan.

There are many different types of home loans that you can choose from to make your property owning dreams a reality. Below are some of the most common types of home loans:

Rates

Variable: A variable home loan is a loan where the interest rate is not locked in. With a variable rate home loan, your interest rate fluctuates in line with the official cash rate set by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). Variable rate home loans are good for those who want to take advantage of potential low interest rates and generally come with more features. However, you must be prepared that the interest rate will move up and down. In this regard they are less secure than a fixed home loan.

Fixed: With a fixed rate home loan, your interest rate is locked in for a fixed period - usually between 1 - 5 years. Fixed home loans tend to be more secure and allow for better planning as you can work out your repayments upfront, and have the peace of mind knowing that your interest rate will remain unchanged during the fixed period. However, these loans tend to have less flexibility and you may miss out on a potentially lower interest rate. With some fixed loans, you may also not be able to make additional repayments.

Split: As the name suggests, a split home loan is one that is split between variable and fixed rates. Part of your home loan is variable and part is fixed. This potentially allows you to get the some of the benefit of both loans and have the security of a fixed rate, while still being able to take advantage of potential rate changes with a variable rate.

Regular home loans vs package loans
Title

Another choice you have is between a regular loan and a packaged loan. A packaged loan is different from a regular loan as you can package your loan with other financial products from the same lender, such as a credit card or a transaction account. Packaging your loan usually comes with discounted rates and lower fees.

Documentation types

Low doc: Low doc home loans are appropriate for those who have difficulty showing documentation of their employment and income, such as those who are self-employed. Low doc home loans are flexible loans designed for those who are self-employed because you don’t have to show evidence of savings or income. This type of loan may also be appropriate for someone who is a new Australian or a full time investor who can’t prove their income. Your credit history will be checked with these loans and you’ll usually have to pay higher fees or interest rates, or only be able to borrow a maximum of 60% of the property value.

Full doc: Full doc home loans require you to meet the normal documentation standards required to complete your home loan application. This means evidence of your income, debts and assets.

Rates last updated December 11th, 2016
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Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment
HSBC Home Value Loan - Resident Owner Occupier only
Enjoy the low variable rate with $0 ongoing fee and borrow up to 90% LVR.
3.55% 3.57% $0 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
3.74% 3.74% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
loans.com.au Essentials - New Purchases Only Up to 80% LVR (Owner Occupier, P&I)
Special offer ends 15 December. A low variable rate for new purchases as well as no application or ongoing fees.
3.39% 3.41% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
State Custodians Standard Variable Spring Special - LVR 80% (Owner Occupier)
Special Owner Occupier Rate. Free Offset Account.
3.59% 3.92% $0 $299 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Greater Bank Ultimate Home Loan - Discounted 1 Year Fixed ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
Discount off an already competitive interest rate for loans over $150k. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.59% 4.42% $0 $375 p.a. 85% Go to site More info
ANZ Breakfree Package Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier) $150k+
This 2 year fixed ANZ Breakfree Package rate comes with package discount and product bundle. Terms and conditions, package fee and fees, charges & eligibility criteria apply.
3.75% 4.62% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
NAB Choice Package Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
A fixed rate package loan with flexible repayments options. 250,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer point offer, conditions apply.
3.75% 4.87% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
ClickLoans The Online Home Loan - Owner Occupier ≤ 80% LVR
Enjoy a competitive interest rate when you have a deposit of at least 20%.
3.69% 3.69% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
loans.com.au Offset Variable - New Purchases Only Up to 80% LVR (Owner Occupier, P&I)
Special offer ends 15 December. No application or annual fees, and access to a 100% offset account.
3.49% 3.51% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Bank Australia Basic Home Loan - Variable (Owner Occupier)
A competitive variable that allows borrowers to borrow from a minimum of $100,000 and $0 ongoing fee.
3.59% 3.60% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
CUA Kick Start Variable Home Loan - 2 Years Introductory (Owner Occupier)
Borrow up to 90% LVR and enjoy an introductory rate for the first 2 years.
3.69% 3.87% $600 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Australian Unity Kick Starter Home Loan
$0 ongoing service fees, maximum 80% LVR and a linked transaction account.
3.79% 3.82% $600 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
State Custodians Breathe Easy Spring Special  - LVR 80% (Owner Occupier)
No application or monthly fees. Includes offset feature.
3.72% 3.75% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Premium Plus Package Home Loan - New Customer Offer ($150,000+ Owner Occupier)
Apply for a new owner occupier loan or refinance from another lender and receive this discounted rate.
3.74% 4.12% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
IMB Budget Home Loan - LVR <=90% (Owner Occupier)
A competitive budget rate without any unwanted bells and whistles.
3.87% 3.92% $445 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Switzer Home Loan
No upfront or ongoing fees and a competitive variable rate for owner occupiers.
3.89% 3.89% $0 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Greater Bank Ultimate Home Loan - Discounted Variable ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
A discounted rate with 100% offset account. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.89% 4.27% $0 $375 p.a. 85% Go to site More info
loans.com.au Essentials - Variable Refinancers Only (Owner Occupier, P&I)
A low-interest rate loan suited for refinancing with no application or ongoing fees.
3.59% 3.61% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
State Custodians Standard Variable Spring Special - LVR 90% (Owner Occupier)
Special Owner Occupier Rate. Free Offset Account.
3.69% 4.02% $0 $299 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
3.94% 4.33% $0 $395 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Bank Australia Premium Home Loan Package - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier) LVR < 80%
Buy a new home even if you haven't yet sold your existing one with the bankmecu Bridging Loan
3.69% 4.24% $0 $350 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
IMB Accelerator Home Loan  - LVR <=80% $300k+ (Owner Occupier)
A two year discounted rate which reverts to an ongoing life of loan discount afterwards.
3.64% 4.39% $445 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Beyond Bank Low Rate Special Home Loan
A special low variable rate for Owner Occupier with 100% offset account and no application or ongoing fees.
3.73% 3.73% $0 $0 p.a. 70% Go to site More info
Greater Bank Great Rate Home Loan - Discounted Variable ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
A competitive rate with redraw facility. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
3.89% 3.89% $0 $0 p.a. 85% Go to site More info
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Years Fixed (Owner Occupier)
Enjoy a low interest rate and borrow up to 95% (with LMI) of your home value.
3.99% 4.81% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
ME Bank Flexible Home Loan Fixed - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier)
A competitive 3 year fixed rate with a redraw facility and split loan options, plus no application fee.
3.84% 4.66% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
ClickLoans The Online Investor Home Loan - LVR <70%
An investment home loan with competitive rate and 100% offset account.
3.79% 3.79% $0 $0 p.a. 70% Go to site More info
Greater Bank Ultimate Home Loan - Discounted 5 Year Fixed ($150K+ Investor)
A discounted 5 years fixed rate with a redraw facility and no application fee.
4.09% 4.55% $0 $375 p.a. 85% Go to site More info
Greater Bank Ultimate Home Loan - Discounted 2 Year Fixed ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
Discount off an already competitive 2 year fixed rate for loans over $150k. NSW,QLD and ACT residents only.
3.74% 4.40% $0 $375 p.a. 85% Go to site More info
AMP Essential Home Loan  -  Owner Occupier
Take advantage of a redraw facility, competitive variable rate and no application or settlement fees for a limited time.
3.98% 4.00% $350 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Bank Australia Premium Home Loan Package - LVR<=80% $700k + (Owner Occupier)
Enjoy the discounted interest rate with redraw facility and no ongoing fees.
3.74% 4.09% $0 $350 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
ME Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR <=80% Owner Occupier
A low variable rate loan with no application or ongoing fees.
3.99% 4.01% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 1 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
Get a short term fixed rate for that investment property with no application or ongoing fees.
3.99% 4.90% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
CUA Kick Start Variable Home Loan - 2 Years Introductory (New Investment Only)
Enjoy a 2 year introductory rate with CUA Kickstart Variable Home Loan.
3.69% 4.28% $600 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Switzer Fixed Rate Home Loans - 2 Years Fixed Rate
A competitive 2 year fixed rate with your very own lending service manager.
3.97% 3.99% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
CUA Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
A fixed home loan with no ongoing fees and flexible repayments options.
3.69% 4.56% $600 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
loans.com.au Fixed - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
Another low interest rate offer from loans.com.au. No application fee to pay.
3.89% 3.72% $0 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
Australian Unity Health, Wealth and Happiness Package - (Owner Occupier)
Get a 0.60% discount on your rate, a 100% offset account and no ongoing fees.
3.99% 4.02% $600 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
NAB Base Variable Rate Home Loan - Owner Occupier (P&I)
A competitive no frills home loan with no application fees for a limited time. 250,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer point offer, conditions apply.
4.10% 4.14% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Switzer Investment Loan
An investment loan with no application or ongoing fees, and your very own lending service manager.
4.09% 4.09% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
3.89% 3.89% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Years Fixed (Owner Occupier)
Split your loan for free with one of the lowest fixed home loan rates.
3.99% 4.73% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
IMB Essential Home Loan - LVR < 80% (Owner Occupier)
Get a discount on your rate and flexible repayment options with this loan.
4.09% 4.09% $0 $0 p.a. 80% Go to site More info
loans.com.au Fixed - 3 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
A low rate 3 year loan with no ongoing fees or application fee from an award winning lender.
3.89% 3.74% $0 $0 p.a. 90% Go to site More info
NAB Choice Package Variable Rate - $250k to $749,999 P&I (Owner Occupier)
A great variable package from NAB which includes offset and redraw features. No application fee.
4.40% 4.79% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
ME Bank Flexible Home Loan Fixed - 2 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier)
No application or ongoing fees and a competitive 2 year fixed rate.
3.84% 4.75% $0 $0 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
NAB Choice Package Home Loan - 5 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
A competitive loan with flexible features. 250,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer point offer, conditions apply.
4.59% 5.02% $0 $395 p.a. 95% Go to site More info
Westpac Flexi First Option Home Loan - 3 Years Introductory Special Offer (New Owner Occupier, P&I)
A limited time deal for new owner occupiers. Advertised rate includes 1.03%p.a. discount for the first two years.
3.99% 4.37% $0 $0 p.a. 95% More info
St.George Basic Home Loan - Promotional Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
A no frills loan with a competitive rate and a maximum LVR of 95%.
4.08% 4.09% $0 $0 p.a. 95% More info
Suncorp Home Package Plus Fixed - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Special Offer $150k+ LVR <=90% Owner Occupier)
Lock in a special offer rate for 3 years for loans over $150k with LVR below 90%.
3.64% 4.26% $0 $375 p.a. 90% More info
Commonwealth Bank Wealth Package Fixed Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)
Fee free extra repayments available during the fixed term. $1,250 cash back offer for refinancers. Conditions apply.
3.99% 5.00% $0 $395 p.a. 95% More info
St.George Fixed Rate Advantage Package -  2 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier)
A discounted package rate for owner occupiers with the ability to package a Qantas rewards earning Amplify credit card. $1,500 cash back available for refinancers, conditions apply.
3.99% 5.07% $0 $395 p.a. 95% More info
Westpac Fixed Options Home Loan Premier Advantage Package - 2 Years
A low interest rate home loan and competitive two year fixed rate.
3.99% 4.97% $0 $395 p.a. 95% More info

How to compare home loans

Rates

One of the most important elements to compare are the interest rates. This includes both interest rates and comparison rates. The comparison rate will help you identify the true cost of the loan so it’s important to compare comparison rates and look for the lowest comparison rate. Also, look out for any rate discounts you may be able to get or be eligible for.

Fees

Fees are another important part of your home loan that can lead to larger costs down the track. This is why it’s important to be aware of all the fees you may be liable for and compare loans based on fees. There are a range of fees you need to look out for and compare such as:

  • Application fees
  • Legal fees
  • Settlement fees
  • Exit fees
  • Account-keeping fees
  • Annual fees

You should be able to find detailed information about the fees a home loan has in the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) of each individual loan.

Features

Some loans have more features than others. It’s important to first decide what features are most important to you in a home loan and then compare home loans based on the features that matter to you. Some features you should compare and questions you should ask include:

  • Can I redraw additional payments I make?
  • Can I make additional repayments?
  • Are there branch networks?
  • Can I open an offset account?
  • Can I split my loan?

Compare home loan features

Incentives

File board

Incentives are also important to compare among home loans. One incentive to look out for is if you can waive any fees if you meet any requirements or conditions. This is a great incentive to assist you in saving money. Some home loans also offer incentives such as the ability to earn Qantas Points just by establishing and paying off a home loan, or sweeteners such as free holidays. Another incentive you may also receive is a cashback. This is when you get a cash rebate after your loan is settled. Another common incentive is discounted rates. These types of incentives give you more than just a regular home loan so it’s important to compare.

Eligibility

Not everyone will be eligible for every type of loan and certain loans may be more suited to people based on their borrowing situation. Some home loans may be restricted based on the square meterage of the property, your income, employment status (e.g. those who are self-employed should consider low doc loans), how much you need to borrow, if you’re an Australian resident or not, and your age. Compare home loans based on your eligibility for them.

Don’t let the stress of finding the right home loan prevent you from purchasing your own home. Choosing a home loan no longer needs to be difficult now that you know what to look out for and what to compare. Start your own home loan comparison today to find the right one for you, or check out one of finder.com.au’s home loan calculators to get a better understanding of your borrowing capacity.

Marc Terrano

A passionate publisher who loves to tell a story. Learning and teaching personal finance is his main lot at finder.com.au. Talk to him to find out more about home loans.

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HSBC Home Value Loan - Resident Owner Occupier only

Enjoy the low variable rate with $0 ongoing fee and borrow up to 90% LVR.

ME Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR <=80% Owner Occupier

A low variable rate loan with no application or ongoing fees.

NAB Choice Package Home Loan - 3 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier)

Receive discounts on interest rates with the Choice Package. 250,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer point offer, conditions apply.

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