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Refinancing your home loan in 2023? 4 things to look for beyond interest rates


Of course rates matter. But make sure you're checking these features too.

Sponsored by Bankwest. If you're thinking about refinancing, Bankwest can help. Learn more about our variable rates and loan features today.

For a good chunk of 2023, interest rates have been making headlines across the country.

There are millions of Australians who may be paying more on their mortgage. So it's no surprise that many people are looking to refinance to get a better interest rate.

It's understandable too. After all, the interest rate has a direct impact on how much it's going to cost you over the lifespan of the loan.

But focusing solely on the interest rate can be a little short-sighted.

When you're refinancing, there are a number of other considerations and features that you should look for.

πŸ‘‹ Hey there! Since we've partnered with Bankwest, we'll be using its home loans as an example throughout this article. However, you should always do your own research and seek professional advice that takes into account your financial needs and objectives when deciding what's best for you.

1. Lender security

One way to avoid potential borrowing and refinancing pitfalls is to look at the lender's history.

Is it established in the industry, with a good reputation for follow-through? Does it have longevity and integrity? These are key qualities that inform lender security.

Some of the signs to look for include:

  • Proactive in providing you with the tools and details you need
  • Open communication
  • Rapid response times
  • Transparency about fees or interest rate changes

To point to an example, a lender like Bankwest has been supporting the community for more than 125 years, with more than a million customers across Australia, including homeowners that span both sides of the Nullarbor.

When you've got lender security, you can have greater peace of mind about the provider's ability to service your loan throughout its lifetime.

You'll also be able to be sure that they're acting in your best interests, are providing you with good advice and are valuing you as a customer.

A couple approaching their home

2. A simple, easy-to-use app

In 2023, an app is a near-standard feature from financial providers.

But that doesn't mean they're all created equally.

Ideally, a financial app should be easy to use, offer straightforward functionality and let you see everything you need to know at a glance.

Some features worth considering include seeing what's left to pay, how much is in your offset account and redraw capabilities.

πŸ”₯ Hot tip: Don't be afraid to ask for a hands-on demo before signing off on your loan. Your lender should be happy to walk you through the steps you need to fully understand its functions.

3. Getting the complete home loan package

Refinancing your home loan isn't just about a bank transferring a chunk of cash into your bank account.

Well, it certainly shouldn't be, anyway. Refinancing is ideally an opportunity to upgrade an end-to-end financial product.

Make sure you look at the fees carefully. Fees are part of any home loan – but you should ensure that you're getting all of the features and banking solutions that you require.

Before you start the application process, check the comparison rate to see how much you'll actually be paying, above the loan repayments.

The Bankwest Refinance Calculator can be a useful tool for this process.

A good home loan will feature a full suite of related tools and features to help you use it to its fullest extent.

Some common things to look for include offset accounts, card inclusions, redraw facilities and flexibility in repayments.

Respectively, these will help you reduce your interest repayments, provide you with everyday account-keeping tools and give you access to cash in an emergency.

πŸ”₯ Hot tip: The ability to make extra mortgage repayments (depending on your loan type) without penalty is handy as it can help reduce your overall loan term too.

A deal for a house being signed

4. Great customer service

Of course, refinancing your loan won't change much if you're still not getting the service you need.

When you need to contact your loan provider, does it answer your call? Or are you constantly finding yourself swatted from one call centre to another, with no sign of a real answer?

Take note of your customer experience during the loan process. If it's sub-par, it may be a sign of other problems down the track.

You should feel valued and have access to support and advice throughout the lifespan of the loan.

As an example, Bankwest offers 24/7 phone support, access to home lending specialists and consultation in its branches around the country. You can also access a range of support features via the Bankwest website or through the app.

Ultimately, you should carefully consider the rate, features and support whenever you're opting to refinance your loan.

You want to get the maximum benefit when you refinance and to set yourself up for financial success.

Sponsored by Bankwest. If you're thinking about refinancing, Bankwest can help. Learn more about our variable rates and loan features today.

Image: @eclipse_images via Image: Getty Images
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