Understanding Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI)

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Chances are you’ve heard the phrase ‘Lenders Mortgage Insurance’ thrown around, or maybe even the acronym ‘LMI’, but how many of us know exactly what this means?

If you’re anything like most first-time home buyers, you may be unsure about this supposed extra cost towards buying a home – that only some people have to pay. You may be wondering who pays LMI, why they pay it and exactly what costs are involved.

If you’re new to the property investment world, don’t fret because we’re about to give you the low-down on everything you need to know about LMI – including what it is, how you can avoid it, and why you might need to pay it.

What is Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI)?

Lenders Mortgage Insurance is a form of insurance that is paid by the home loan owner but designed to protect the lender, just in case you default on your home loan and can no longer make your repayments.

The important thing to recognise is that not everyone pays for LMI. Usually, LMI is only required when the borrower is taking out a loan for 80% or more of the value of the property (meaning they do not have the ‘traditional’ 20% deposit). This percentage is otherwise known as the Loan-to-Valuation-Ratio or LVR, and in most cases, if your LVR is over 80%, you will most likely be required to pay for Lenders Mortgage Insurance.


An important distinction to make is that LMI is not there to cover you (or your guarantor), it simply exists to protect your credit provider in the event that you cannot pay back your loan.

How do you calculate LVR (Loan-to-Value-Ratio)?

The Loan-to-Value-Ratio (LVR) is used to help determine whether you will need to pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance. Usually, an LVR value of over 80% suggests that you will need to pay LMI.

The LVR can be calculated by dividing the loan amount by the value of your property. Alternatively, if you’re not a fan of numbers you can use eChoice’s LVR Calculator instead.

For example, if Jenny was getting a loan of $300,000 and her property was worth $450,000, her LVR would be approximately 67%, meaning she would most likely get away with not needing to take out LMI.

However, if Jenny’s LVR was 80% or greater, in most casesshe would need to take out LMI.

LVR Calculator

Loan details


How is Lenders Mortgage Insurance calculated? How much does it cost?

Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) is usually a one-off payment that lasts for the life of your loan. The cost depends on your Loan-to-Value-Ratio (LVR) as well as the amount you wish to borrow, and generally, as your LVR or borrowing amount goes up, so does the price of your insurance.

The following table can help you to estimate your potential LMI costs.

Know the cost of LMI premiums

Property Value Deposit LMI Estimate*
    First Home Buyer Buying Again
$350,000 $17,500 (5%) $11,172.00 $12,402
$35,000 (10%) $6,048 $6,710
$500,000 $25,000 (5%) $15,960 $17,718
$50,000 (10%) $8,640 $9,585
$750,000 $37,500 (5%) $32,134 $35,696
$75,000 (10%) $16,470 $18,293
$1,000,000 $50,000 (5%) $42,845 $47,595
$100,000 (10%) $22,050 $24,480

All calculations have a loan term of 30 years and are estimates only.

Calculate the cost of LMI premiums

To help you out, this calculator can also be used to estimate the cost of your Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). Simply follow the link and enter your estimated property value, deposit amount, whether or not you are a first home buyer, as well as your loan term.


What are the benefits of LMI for the borrower?

Despite its cost, Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) does have some benefits that make it worth weighing up your options.

  • Buy a home sooner: In some cases fronting the cost of LMI can help you to buy a home sooner than it would to keep saving.
  • Buy before the market jumps: Although difficult to predict, in some cases paying LMI and getting into the market at a lower price point could leave you better off than waiting until you have a full deposit saved.
  • Stop renting: Paying LMI can help you to get into your new home sooner. Dependant on the situation, this could potentially work out better than continuing to pay rent.
LMI can allow buyers to take out bigger home loans than otherwise possible. This can give some borrowers a better chance at homeownership.

Do you have to pay LMI upfront?

Whilst LMI is a one-off payment, with most insurers there is usually some flexibility as to how it is paid.

The first way to pay for LMI is in a one-off, upfront payment. While for some this is no problem, for others it can be hard. In this case it may be possible to capitalise the payment into your mortgage.

Capitalising LMI into your home loan essentially means the cost of LMI is added to your home loan. This means you pay it off in regular instalments rather than one lump sum.

How long does LMI approval take?

The timeframe for LMI approval can differ from insurer-to-insurer so if you’re worried, it is usually better to ask directly. However, in saying this, most insurers should be able to give approval in one to two business days (assuming property valuation has already been completed).

Can LMI be waived?

In most cases, the simplest way to avoid LMI fees is to have a deposit equal to or greater than 20% of the value of the property.

For those yet to save for a standard deposit, LMI can sometimes be waived by government schemes such as the first home loan deposit scheme (FHLDS). It can also be avoided by having a guarantor sign onto your home loan – such as a parent. This effectively adds more equity to your application and bypasses the need for such a large deposit.


Working out whether you are liable for LMI is dependent on your individual circumstances. Talk to your lender to find out more.

Is LMI refundable?

In some cases, LMI is refundable within the first one to two years, however, it depends on the conditions of your policy. For some policies, LMI refunds are not available under any circumstances.

For example, under some policies, if the home loan is paid off within a certain amount of time (usually under two years), the home loan owner will be entitled to a refund or partial refund of the cost of their LMI. However, for some home loans, no such clause exists.

In other cases, if within a certain amount of time (again, usually under two years) the homeowner decides to refinance and move lenders, for some policies the LMI can be refunded (or partially refunded). Again, whether this is possible is entirely dependent on your home loan policy.

It’s important to note that, even if your LMI is refunded, if your equity has not increased and your LVR is still greater than 80%, you will most likely still need to take out LMI (again) for the new home loan policy.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the option of LMI being refundable is not a given, and it will depend on your particular policy – so be sure to ask!

Is LMI transferrable?

Unfortunately, when you move lenders, Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) is not able to be transferred. However, in some cases, if you stay with the same lender, they will give you a discount on the new LMI policy – rather than have you move to a new lender altogether.

The fact that LMI cannot be transferred is an important point for mortgage holders to take into consideration when they consider moving to a new lender, with its implication being that if your equity is still not high enough, you will be required to take out LMI yet again, adding a significant cost to the value of your home loan.

Always consider that although you may be required to take out LMI again, this new lenders policy might be so good that it offsets this added cost. At the end of the day, every circumstance is different and only you, or your financial advisor, can really say which option is best for you.

Words by Kathryn Lee

Wondering if you’re liable for Lenders Mortgage Insurance? An eChoice mortgage broker can help you to assess your borrowing power and whether you’ll need to pay LMI.

What's my borrowing power if I earn $ per year?

From mourning the end of a relationship to ironing out the living and parenting arrangements, divorce is difficult enough as it is. However, if you have a joint mortgage on a property together, it can add a whole new level of complexity.

Regardless of whether you both remain in the home, the mortgage still needs to be paid off and it’s not always as simple as splitting it 50/50. The good news is, by familiarising with the guidelines around home loans and divorce, you can make sure you’re prepared in the unfortunate event your marriage ends.

How is property split in a divorce?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to property split in a divorce – it depends on the individual circumstances of your family and home. Typically, in any relationship longer than 12 months, each party is entitled to a share of the assets. How the division of assets occurs depends on a number of factors such as:

  • Whether or not there is another agreement in place, such a pre-nuptial
  • The contributions made by each party – the deposit, stamp duty and legal fees
  • Ownership contributions such as payment of the mortgage, home improvements, lumps sum payments – gifts and inheritance – as well as earnings
  • The future earnings of each party
  • Non-financial contributions in the relationship, such as staying home to raise children
  • The number of dependent children
  • The relationship length

This can apply to not only the property itself but also the home loan debt if you are encumbered by a mortgage.

Do I have to pay the mortgage after divorce?

In the event of a divorce, your mortgage repayments will still need to be made in one way or another. Failure to do so can lead to a compromised credit score, high-interest rates and eventually, the bank selling your home. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you both need to pay half/half. There are various options that involve transferring the mortgage.

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What happens to the mortgage when you divorce?

You may be wondering “can you hold a shared home loan account after divorce?” After all, surely paying the loan repayments back equally would be the simplest option. Yes, it is indeed possible to take out a joint mortgage and both remain liable for the debt until it is paid off. However, there are various reasons that this may not always be feasible. Perhaps one partner has a lower income, will have increased rental or childcare costs or simply doesn’t feel they should have to pay for a home they no longer live in. In this case, there are a few other divorce and mortgage options:

  • Buying out the property share owned by your ex-partner
  • Selling your property share to your ex-partner
  • Selling the home and sharing the profits

Below, we’ll talk through these options in more detail

Can I transfer my mortgage to my ex-wife or husband?

Yes, you can transfer your share of the property to your ex-spouse. However, this means they would have to refinance the home to buy out your share and take your name off the home loan, as well as the property title.

If you go down this path, you will be eligible for the Capital Gains Tax rollover relief, meaning you won’t be required to pay CGT on the share you sold to your ex-partner. This is because they would be assumed to receive capital gain or loss in the event they sell the property in the future.

Everything you need to know about home and contents insurance

Reportedly, 66% of Australians don’t have home and contents insurance, but when disaster strikes, those uncovered are left largely out-of-pocket. If insurance talk leaves you in a daze, this is the guide for you; the 101 on home and contents insurance.

Can I buy my partner out of the mortgage?

On the flipside, you can also buy your partner out of the mortgage and remove them from the home loan. However, in order to do so, you would need to qualify for the mortgage on your own. If you’re eligible, you will be able to refinance and extend your mortgage to 95% of the property value.

You may also be able to increase your home loan to pay out a divorce settlement. In this situation, you may be required to pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) if you loan more than 80% of the property value. However, the good news is, you generally won’t be liable for stamp duty, as it’s usually not payable on a transfer of equity.

Whether you’ll need to pay Capital Gains Tax will depend on how you use the property after the divorce. If you continue to live there, you’ll be exempt under the main residence exemption. If you move out of the property and rent it out but still keep it as your main place of residence, you may be exempt from paying CGT for up to six years under the temporary absence rule. However, the market value at that time will be the base by which CGT is calculated when you sell.

Can I refinance my house during a divorce?

Yes, it is possible to refinance your home during a divorce. In fact, many couples will decide to do this as it allows one spouse to be ‘bought out’ of the home loan while the other keeps the house.

If one half of the couple does intend to buy the other out, the person keeping the house must ensure they have the means to service the home loan on their own. They must also have enough savings or equity to be able to buy the other half of the couple out for their share.

The share of the house awarded to each party usually depends on divorce proceedings and the individual couple’s circumstances.

How is equity divided in a home after a divorce?

The way the equity of a house is divided after a divorce will depend on legal proceedings. Depending on the factors involved, each partner will be entitled to a certain share of the property. This could depend on factors such as:

  • The length of the relationship.
  • Whether there are dependant children involved and who will be their sole carer.
  • Share of financial contributions made towards the home (deposit, repayments, etc.)
  • Other contributions made during the relationship (such as being a stay-at-home parent).

How to qualify for a home loan after divorce

In order to qualify for the mortgage on your own when buying your partner out, you must meet certain criteria, including:

  • You must have a good repayment history on your current home loan
  • You must be able able to prove you have the funds to pay out your partner if there’s inadequate equity in the property. However, unlike other loans, you don’t have to prove genuine savings
  • Your partner must agree to sign a transfer form to you

What is my mortgage repayment?



couple returning rings after divorce

How do I remove my partner from my mortgage?

Technically, you can remove your ex-spouse’s name from the property title yourself. However, this tends to be quite a complex and time-consuming process and the last thing you need in a divorce is more stress!

It’s best to seek the services of an experienced property lawyer or licensed conveyancer, who will understand the technical jargon and be able to quickly deal with any problems that arise.

Firstly, you will need to seek the consent of your home loan provider to take your ex-spouse’s name off the mortgage. Usually, this also includes refinancing the home loan to reflect the new circumstances. With the help of the lawyer or conveyancer, you’ll then fill out a transfer title form. You can usually find this on the website of your applicable state or territory government department. You will need to provide the names of the people involved in the transfer, the Torrens Title details and the share of the property being transferred.

Can you take your name off a mortgage after divorce?

Yes, if your ex-partner can prove they are able to pay off the mortgage on their own after the divorce, they can take your name off the mortgage following the same steps above.

Refinancing your home after a divorce

Wondering how to refinance a home loan after divorce, exactly? Well, refinancing is simply replacing an existing debt obligation with another one under different terms. So, in the case of refinance after divorce, you would be putting the mortgage in one name.

If one of you decides to stay in the home, the other partner can put the profit from selling their share of the mortgage towards a new home loan.

Selling your home after a divorce

Another strategy is selling the home and keeping the assets. There are various benefits to this. It ensures that asset division is fair, reduces the emotional baggage and allows both parties to start afresh using the proceeds from the sale of the property. If you’ve owned the property for many years, then chances are you will also have a considerable deposit for the purchase of another property after the division of the proceeds.

However, if you and your ex-partner are not on amicable terms, this can be a difficult process. You have to collaborate on the sale of the property and agree on a real estate agent and price. You may even have to prepare the property for sale together. If you are not on good terms, you may also want to sell faster. This can lead to rushed selling the property for a reduced price, just so you can move on.

If you do choose to sell the property and divide the proceeds, then it’s important to seek legal advice. This ensures strategy ensures asset division is fair.

Can my partner stop paying the mortgage?

What happens if your partner is still on the home loan, but refuses to make their share of mortgage repayments? There are a few steps you can take in this event.

Firstly, you should contact your lender and inform them about the situation. While they will still require mortgage payments, you may find that they are willing to reach a compromise about the repayment schedule pending the division of your property in the Family Court.

You may also choose to sell the home. This ensures your mortgage will be paid and eliminates any potential negative consequences. The balance of the proceeds of the sale may be held in a trust until you and your ex-spouse meet a final agreement.

You may also be able to get a Court Order for spouse maintenance to ensure your ex-partner complies with the ongoing mortgage repayments.

Updated by Kathryn Lee December 2020

Dealing with mortgages after divorce can get complicated and messy, and it’s not something you should have to go through on your own. eChoice’s experienced brokers could help you decide on the best course of action to reach a positive resolution. Contact us today for joint mortgage separation guidance on refinancing or selling.

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After scouring the housing market for some time, you’ve fallen in love with a home that ticks all your boxes. Now you’re wondering how you make an offer on the house without paying more than you need to. We explain everything you need to know during this exciting time.

Australian homes typically sell by private treaty, where the vendor sets the price of the property, or via auction, which involves making a bid over the reserve price to secure the property. Both buying processes are completely different and how you make a house offer will depend on the selling process of the property. 

What do you need to put an offer on a house?

Before taking a serious look at the property market, seek pre-approval from your lender first. By doing this you will know the limits of your budget and won’t set your sights on something outside what you can afford.

Seeking pre-approval, sometimes called conditional approval, also puts you in a stronger position when making an offer as it makes you more attractive to vendors.

Although you can make verbal offers on a house, for clarity on details and terms it is best made in writing. 

In your letter of offer the following should be included:

  • The names and addresses of both the seller and buyer
  • The offered purchase price and address of the property
  • The settlement date when the buyer intends to pay and obtain the title
  • Details of how you wish to pay the deposit, whether it be cash or by transfer
  • Any inclusions you intend to buy with the house, such as large appliances.
  • Conditions or contingencies of sale, such as pest control or building inspections 
  • Any additional contract clauses. Use specific clauses to ensure features of the home are fully functioning upon purchase e.g. the swimming pool, the electrical and gas network.

You may also want to seek legal advice before making any formal offers.

How do I make an offer on a house?

Making your offer is as simple as contacting the property agent and letting them know the amount you’re willing to pay – to start with a verbal offer is fine. 

Tips on making your offer:

  • Gauge market interest by attending home openings. More interest will likely mean more bids to contend with.
  • Make your offer early and quickly to avoid competition from other buyers – don’t be afraid to push the vendor for a quick answer.
  • Make sure your offer is unconditional by seeking pre-approval on your home loan from your bank before making your offer.

Once you’ve given your verbal offer to the agent, they’ll take you through the process of formalising a written offer. 

What happens when you make an offer on a house?

There are three typical outcomes once you make an offer on a house.

  1. The offer is rejected: This could indicate the gap between your offer and the asking price was too great. Reconsider whether the property might be out of your price range or if you’d like to increase your offer.
  2. The seller counters your offer: The vendor may consider your offer and present you with an amount higher than yours. This can be a starting point to negotiate a price you both feel comfortable with or to accept or reject the counter-offer. Take stock of your financial position and what you feel the property is worth before engaging in negotiations.
  3. The offer is accepted: The best possible outcome is an accepted offer. Once the buyer and seller are both satisfied with the purchase price the offer is accepted and the agent will begin to prepare contracts.

Can you withdraw an offer on a house before it is accepted?

Even after making a formal offer the buyer has several stages to withdraw from the sale before it is finalised.

An offer is not a legally binding contract and can be withdrawn before the seller accepts. You can revoke your offer by giving the agent a written letter informing them of your offer withdrawal. If you decide you want to revoke an offer, don’t waste time. It becomes much more difficult and costly to revoke and offer once it is accepted.

Most states also have mandated cooling-off periods. This gives the buyer several days to reconsider their purchase after the exchange of contracts. However, withdrawing from the sale at this point will come at a financial cost to the buyer.

Home loan lingo got you down? Check out the eChoice finance glossary for help with those pesky terms!

What is considered a lowball offer?

A lowball offer is an offer considered to be less than what the property is actually worth, and is a tactic many home buyers might consider in a slow market. However, while it’s natural to want to get ‘bang for your buck’ in any purchase, a lowball offer is not always a good tactic in home buying.

Research the sale history of the property and look at similar property types in the area that have recently sold to get an idea of the worth of the property.


You might also like: How to research the property market

Can a seller back out of an accepted offer on a house?

Generally speaking, a vendor cannot back out of a sale once an offer has been accepted, however, there are few exceptions. This could include a vendor cooling off period being stipulated in the contract or the buyer not meeting the requirements of the contract.

As a seller, you should seek legal advice for a better understanding of what breaking a legally binding contract would mean for you.

How much is a deposit on a house offer?

The amount of money you put down as a deposit is subject to your lender and their criteria. Some let you borrow up to 95% of your property’s value so you may only need to put down 5% to have your loan approved.

But, it’s a good idea to aim for more – you won’t have to borrow as much, you will have lower repayments and you will lower the amount of interest paid over the lifetime of your loan. 

You’re also in a better position to negotiate lower interest rates with lenders because you pose less of a risk with less to repay.

When you put down 20% of the sale price or more, you also avoid paying Lender’s Mortgage Insurance. This is a way to protect the lender when you borrow a large fraction of your purchase price. This cost can either be upfront or made in addition to your repayments.

Is making an offer on a house legally binding?

Every offer that you make has the potential to be legally binding, especially if it is made in the form of a signed contract of sale. If the seller agrees to the contract that you have proposed, and signs, then the sale is legally binding. If in doubt, it is best to seek legal advice.

You might also like: What is Lenders Mortgage Insurance and How Can It Be Avoided?

Should you accept the first offer on your house?

Selling a property comes with its own set of worries, one of the most important being knowing when to accept an offer.

Take time to consider what you are willing to accept and what conditions you might negotiate on when you place your home on the market. Some things to consider:

  • Recent sales: Look at what recent sales suggest. Although you may have a target number in mind, you must compare this to how similar houses in your suburb are performing. Then assess if the offer seems high or low.
    • Look within a 1km radius
    • Houses sold within the last six months
    • Same block size, same number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Is it a cash offer? Sometimes a cash offer means one less contingency to worry about and can make for smoother sailing.
  • Have you got a limited buying pool? If you haven’t received a lot of interest and are eager to sell, perhaps accepting is best for you.
  • Are you pressed for time? Sometimes sellers are relocating for a new job or to a new country and need to sell.
  • Have you already found your next home? Often a seller’s inability to pay two mortgages leaves them selling faster than they like.
  • Have you sought professional advice? Seek professional advice from real estate and financial experts to guide your decision making and establish what you are willing to negotiate on and what you are not.

You might also like: Can you trust your property’s valuation?

Do sellers have to respond to an offer?

It is best practice to respond to all offers, and if you are selling through agent, they will likely push you to give an answer to any offer. If you choose to reject or counter the offer make sure you respond in a timely manner.

Can you bid lower on a house?

Buyers making an offer can bid lower than the asking price, although some agents may not commit to writing an offer if it is too low. Most vendors will not go below 5% – 10% of their asking price but there are factors to consider:

  • Research: This comes up a lot, but it really pays off to know what recent sales say about the asking price. It may be too high, and a lower price may be more deserving. 
  • Long listing: If the property has been listed for a while this can be a sign that the seller may be asking too much.
  • Inspections: Complete an inspection and if you are given a reason to decrease the value of the home use this as a point of justification in your letter of offer. Sometimes this needs the eyes of a professional who can identify problems outside your expertise.
  • What does the seller want? Sometimes the seller would rather a longer settlement time instead of the highest offer. Find out what motivates their need to sell and cater to them.
  • Approved finances: Sometimes having your finances approved and ready to go can make you appear more competitive. 
property jargon decoded

Do I need a lawyer to make an offer on a house?

There is no legal requirement to use a lawyer to make an offer on a house but it is advisable to speak with either a lawyer or a specialised licensed conveyancer to look after your transaction. They can help guide you through negotiations and offers, although the real estate agent will also provide guidance where needed.

financial advisor

When should you lower the price of your house?

What is my borrowing capacity?

Wondering how much to borrow or what amount is even available to you? In this guide we break down the common questions around borrowing power.

In a slow market or a buyer’s market, you may want to consider lowering the price of your home. Before you lower your asking price, consider what offers you are willing to accept and whether it’s the right time to sell if offers are low.

Selling in a buyer’s market – when there are many properties for sale and competition among vendors is high – means prices are driven down. Consider how motivated you are to sell at the given time and assess whether your asking price is inflated. Consider reducing the price or waiting out the market.

Some other things to consider include:

  • Are you marketing your house well? Have you really promoted its benefits and features? Does it include a virtual tour?
  • How many open houses have you had?
  • How many hits have you received on your listing?
  • What feedback have you had from agents? 
  • Can improvements make a significant difference to the demand of the house? Are they achievable? 

Can you put an offer on a house that already has an accepted offer?

When a property is “under offer” but the sold sticker has not gone up, this means that it is still subject to a few conditions. This can include cooling off periods or pest and building inspections. At this point you can phone the agent and find out which conditions are still being determined so you can keep track of whether it will return to the market. You can still inspect the property to make sure it ticks all your boxes, and then if need be, sit tight and wait.

Cooling off periods state-by-state

Often contracts for the sale of residential property come with a cooling-off period, though, it is rare buyers to pull out of a sale. Under a contract of sale, terms can be changed to waive, reduce or even extend a cooling-off period. These terms are discussed and settled in pre-sale negotiations.

Each Australian state and territory have their own legislation regulating cooling–off periods and typically a penalty for withdrawing from a contract.
  • Queensland: You have five business days from the exchange of the contract until 5pm on the fifth day. Weekends and public holidays are not included. If the buyer opts out of the sale, the seller may deduct a financial penalty of 0.25% of the sale price from your deposit.
  • New South Wales: You have five business days until 5pm on the final day to back out of the sale. The buyer will lose 0.25% of the sale price to cancel the contract.
  • Tasmania: There is no cooling off period on private treaty real estate.
  • Victoria: You have three business days from the contract of sale to opt out. The buyer will be required to pay 0.2% of the purchase price as a penalty.
  • South Australia: You have two business days to back out of the contract and notice must be given by 5pm. If the buyer pulls out, they forfeit a holding deposit if one is given, but any purchase deposit over $100 will be returned. 
  • Australian Capital Territory: You have five business days until 5pm on the final day to back out of the sale. The buyer will lose 0.25% of the sale price to cancel the contract.
  • Northern Territory: You have four business days to opt out of the contract of sale. The Northern Territory is the only state where the buyer will not suffer a penalty. Both purchase and holding deposits will be refunded.
  • Western Australia: There are no compulsory cooling off periods unless negotiated into the contract of sale.

Extra conditions may be added to your contract of sale such as your ability to obtain finance or the sale of your current property.

If you buy a house at an auction, say goodbye to a cooling off period. Cancelling after securing the property at auction will become an expensive exercise, so be confident in your choice and your finances before this.

You might also like: What is a cooling-off period?

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Can I pull out of a contract after my offer is accepted? 

Contract cancellations need to be made in writing and usually within a period of time and at a cost. Look above to find the cooling off laws in your state, and if you fall within that time.

You can also pull out if the seller fails to fulfil a condition under the contract. But if you want to withdraw after this period of time you should speak to a lawyer about the consequences of breaching a contract.

Can a realtor disclose other offers?

Legally there is nothing stopping a real estate agent from disclosing if other offers have been made and what the magic number was. But, according to Lisa Suryawan, Sales Manager of Xynergy Realty, she says:

“It’s best not to share what the offer amount is however we could give an indication of a range where the offer might fall.”

How do you negotiate buying a house?

Negotiating buying a house can be tricky – especially when properties are in short supply and competition between buyers is high.

It can help to:

  • Have your deposit ready to lock down your offer.
  • Know your limit before stepping into negotiations.
  • Assess the sales history of similar properties within a 1km radius to work out what price is reasonable.
  • If buying at auction, attend others first to gain confidence in the process.
  • If you miss out but had a reasonable offer ready, ask the real estate agent to contact you for other properties in the area.

What to know before making an offer on a house?

  • Research the area: know that the price is competitive and that the neighbourhood is one that you want to live in.
  • Research the house: Is this suitable for your needs? 
  • Have you done the relevant inspections or have contingencies to do so?
  • Ask the seller to give you an estimate of the utility bills
  • Secure your finances and know if the house is within your budget
  • Make your intentions clear, but don’t reveal your highest bid.
  • Find a good real estate agent, not just one that has been suggested to you. 

How to make a pre-auction offer?

Properties often go to auction because the real estate agent believes the property is going to garner high interest among buyers. While this increases the likelihood of a positive outcome for the vendor, the competition of an auction can suddenly push the price of a property far above its reserve, leaving hopeful buyers disappointed.

For a pre-auction offer to be taken seriously, you will likely need to make it worth the vendor’s attention. To use the old adage, make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Tips for making a pre-auction offer:

  • Make the offer worth cancelling the auction: Is the price too good to refuse? (without blowing your budget or exceeding what the house is worth).
  • Does the vendor want the house of their hands? If the vendor needs the finance for another purchase, the right early offer might be enough to sway the deal.
  • Know the area (and your budget): Research the sales history of other properties in the area and remember to stick to your spending limit.

How do I make my offer stand out?

  • Do your research. Know if you can negotiate and give justifications as to why you lowered your price.
  • Find a great real estate agent who will be proactive and communicate between both you and the seller well.
  • Come with preapproved finances.
  • Make your offer personal. Sometimes the seller might want to know the house is being given into good hands and will be kept much the same. Highlight what you most like about the home and how it is unique.
  • Get the seller to like you. Share something about yourself and why this home is particularly striking to you.

Words by Michelle Elias

Updated by Kathryn Lee December 2020

You might also like: The Guide to Property Investment

Looking for a home loan? Contact eChoice. With access to 100s of mortgage products from over 25 different lenders, eChoice brokers have the resources to help you find the perfect home loan. Best of all? We do all the paperwork!

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According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the average mortgage size in Australia is $500,000 (December 2019). Depending on where you live, this may sound like a lot – or very little – and that’s because the state or capital city you live in has a major influence on the size of your mortgage.

Average mortgage size in Australia by state

Depending on where you lay your stakes, the size of your mortgage can be vastly different.

It may come as no surprise that Sydney tops the list for the largest average mortgage size in Australia. But while Sydneysiders indeed pay a premium for their predictable weather patterns and sunny beaches, Melbourne homeowners are not too far behind.

Take a look at the average new lending amounts across Australia:

How much is the average monthly mortgage repayment?

During the 2016 Census of Population and Housing, it was found that the median monthly mortgage repayment in Australia was $1,755. However, where you choose to live can have a stark difference on the figures.

Median monthly mortgage repayment by state:

You might also like: What is a debt consolidation home loan and how can it help you manage your debts?

How can I estimate the cost of my mortgage repayments?

For those who are new to the ‘mortgage world’, getting your head around just how much a mortgage can cost and how much you might be paying each month in repayments can be daunting. Before punishing yourself for paying more attention to your hair during high school maths class, check out eChoice’s loan repayment calculator.

The calculator is plug-and-play and allows you to get an estimate without doing any pesky maths.

Example: What is the mortgage repayment on a $300,000 loan?

The mortgage repayment is determined by the loan amount, loan term and interest rate. According to the eChoice loan repayment calculator, a $300,000 mortgage taken out at an interest rate of 3.92% over a 30-year term would equate to an estimated monthly repayment of $1,419 per month, with a total loan repayment of $510,640.

average mortgage size in Australia

You might also like: Tips To Help You Pay Off Your Mortgage Earlier Than The Loan Term

How much money should mortgage repayments be as a percentage of income?

The amount of money you can dedicate towards mortgage repayments depends on a variety of factors, such as your current income and living expenses – as well as the current interest rates on offer.

In general, many find the 28% rule a good rule of thumb. Under the model, mortgage repayments should represent no more than 28% of your monthly income.

Of course, this rule is only a suggestion – and it does not account for personal circumstances. To work out how much you can budget towards a mortgage from your monthly income, it’s best to map out your expenses and do the maths or seek the advice of a professional.

You might also like: Can you salary sacrifice a mortgage?

What happens if my monthly mortgage repayments are greater than 28% of my income?

If your monthly mortgage repayments are greater than 28% of your tax-free monthly income, you may be in danger of mortgage stress.

Mortgage stress is typically described as when your mortgage repayments are greater than 30% of your income. Although many households may be able to maintain this level of mortgage repayment, they may find themselves in danger if home loan interest rates rise.

Historically, Australia is currently experiencing the lowest home loan interest rates ever seen. Due to this, many financial advisors feel that home loan holders have become complacent about home loan interest rates, naively believing they won’t rise. According to financial experts, this is a dangerous mindset that could be costly in the long-term, especially if home loan holders don’t have a financial buffer to cover rising expenses.

You might also like: Can you salary sacrifice a mortgage?

How many years do you have to pay off a house?

There is no ‘set’ amount of time you have to pay off a house by, it all depends on the term of the loan, and other loan conditions which you would have negotiated with your lender. Typically, loans will run for terms between 10 and 30 years, depending on your loan type and the monthly repayments you can afford.

You might also like: Repayments deferred but not forgotten: the truth about mortgage holidays

What is the average interest rate for home loans?

There is no ‘average’ interest rate for home loans. Interest rates are constantly changing depending on the economic climate and the cash rate set by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

Historically, Australia is currently experiencing the lowest interest rates on record. As of April 2020, the interest rates for most lenders were sitting at around 4.63% but you can find rates as low as 2.47%. However, as those who were mortgage holders in the 90s would remember, in 1990 interest rates hit record highs, reaching as high as 17%.

There is nothing to stop interest rates from rising in the future – and likewise, nothing to stop interest rates from going down. It all depends on the economic conditions at play, which is why it’s important for home loan holders to be financially aware.

You might also like: The interest rate war: what it means to consumers

You might also like: What to consider when choosing an online lender

What determines a mortgage interest rate?

Interest rates are influenced by the cash rate, and as of July 2020 the RBA the cash rate is 0.25% – a historic low. A low cash rate helps to keep interest rates down. However, the RBA meets every month to discuss the current economic climate, meaning this could rise at any time, potentially bringing interest rates up with it.

Other, more personal, factors also help lenders determine your mortgage interest rate. Your credit score, requested loan amount, loan term and interest rate type are just a few of the other factors lenders take into consideration when calculating your interest rate.

What mortgage amount could I qualify for?

Everyone’s personal circumstances are different, and there’s no definitive way to say what mortgage amount you could qualify for.

When calculating your approval amount, your lender will likely consider factors such as your salary (including joint income if applicable), credit score, living expenses and more. Seeking pre-approval can be a good way to find out how much you could be eligible for.

Alternatively, the eChoice’s borrowing power calculator can be a useful tool to estimate how much you might be able to borrow.

What's my borrowing power if I earn $ per year?

How much is the average loan amount for first home buyers?

Buying a home for the first time is a scary, daunting, confusing and exciting time. First home buyers are likely to go through a range of feelings, and at one point, a first home buyer is sure to wonder, am I doing it right?

Related: First Home Buyers Grant: Everything you need to know

When house hunting, working out just how much you should be borrowing can be hard. In cities like Sydney, where house prices may feel ridiculously expensive, a first home buyer can be left asking, “Is this normal?” Or, “How much should we be spending on a house?”

Just like that time you went to a restaurant hungry and ordered way too much food, and later regretted it, you don’t want to commit to a home loan amount that is more than you can handle.

Although we can’t tell you what loan amount is right for you (leave that up to your financial advisor), we can tell you what the average loan amount is for first home buyers, to help get you started.

Words by Kathryn Lee

Original: 11 April 2019.

Updated on 20 December 2020.

You might also like: Understanding Lenders Mortgage Insurance

Are you interested in knowing more about how to pay your home loan off faster? Then contact eChoice, we could help you to find a cost-effective home loan to suit your individual needs.

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If you’re thinking of buying a house in Australia, saving for a deposit probably seems like given. After all, that’s what lenders use to secure your mortgage! But while putting down a deposit for a home is the simplest and safest way, it may not be the only way. Under the right circumstances, you can acquire a no deposit home loan that allows you to take out a mortgage with zero down payment.

So, how do you buy a house with no money out of pocket, exactly? Read on for everything you need to know about no deposit home loans.

How can I buy a house with no deposit?

There are three ways you may be able to purchase a home with no deposit:

Guarantor loan

This is when a guarantor, such as your parents, uses the equity on their own property to secure your loan. In this situation, you could borrow up to 105% of the purchase price and don’t need to show any savings.

The amount you can borrow under a guarantor loan depends on the type of borrower you are. Borrower types are as follows:

  • First home buyers: Those looking to buy their first home could borrow up to 105% of the property value.
  • Home builders: Borrowers wanting to build a new home could borrow up to 105% of the home and land costs
  • Refinancers: People looking to refinance can not borrow up to 100% of their home’s value.
  • Debt consolidators and purchasers: People wishing to roll all their payments into one and buy a home could borrow up to 110%
  • Investors: Those looking to borrow to buy an investment property could borrow up to 105%.

Of course, these amounts may vary from lender-to-lender. Therefore, you’ll need to ask what you’re eligible for before taking out a guarantor loan.

A gift

You may be wondering ‘Can you be gifted a deposit for a house?’ The answer is yes, if you’re very lucky, your family can indeed gift you a non-refundable deposit to buy a home! But will need to be considered as genuine savings above 90% – So will need to be sitting in your account for at least 3 months or with rental history 12 months for certain lenders in regards to First Home Buyers.

Some lenders may also have additional requirements (such as the funds being in your account before you apply), so be sure to consult them first to ensure your application goes smoothly.

A personal loan

If you have a very high income, clear credit history and less than $10,000 in existing debt, you may be able to get a personal loan as a deposit. If you fit the criteria, it’s fairly easy to borrow up to $20,000 as a personal loan and 95% of the value of your property as a home loan. However, borrowing this amount of money isn’t suitable for everyone.

Example Page

Will a personal loan affect my mortgage application?

A personal loan could be either a hindrance or help when it comes to applying for a mortgage. It all depends at how good you are at making your repayments on time. If you make your repayments late (or not at all!) this can sabotage your chances of securing a mortgage. However, if you consistently make them on time, this can increase your credit score and solidify for your reputation as a responsible borrower.

Can I use first home buyers grant as deposit?

What is my mortgage repayment?



Yes, it is possible to use the First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) as a deposit. This is a nationwide scheme designed to make it easier for first-time buyers to purchase a property. This one-off payment ranges from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on where in Australia you live (be sure to check out eChoice’s guide to the FHOG in your state) However, in most cases, this won’t be enough to cover a deposit.

How much of a deposit do you need for a house?

The minimum deposit to purchase a home is generally 5% plus costs, but you also will need to pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance. Generally, most lenders ask for a deposit of 10 to 20%.

Can you get First Home Buyers Grant for an investment property?

No, the First Home Owners Grant is only available for residential properties. While the rules vary from state to state, you must move into the property within 12 months or purchasing and live there for between six to 12 months.

Can I use my super for a house deposit?

In Australia, you can’t withdraw from your superannuation to purchase a home. However, if you’ve made voluntary super contributions, first home buyers can access up to $30,000 of this for a house deposit. You can also use a self-managed super fund to buy a property.

Can I pay a mortgage deposit with a credit card?

Using a credit card is an increasingly popular option for loan deposits. The 2016 Genworth Homebuyer Confidence Index found that around 20% of first home buyers had admitted to using a credit card to reach the deposit amount for their home loan, which was up from 3% in 2013. However, due to credit card limits, this is generally used as a ‘top-up’, not to pay the full deposit. For example, if you were buying a property worth $400,000 with a minimum deposit of 10% and you only had $30,000 saved, you could use the credit card for the remaining $10,000.

This option isn’t for everyone and it’s not without its risks. You must be able to afford both the mortgage and credit card repayments, as well as having a clear credit score.

Can you get a home loan with no savings?

You can acquire a home loan with no savings if you use a 105% guarantor mortgage or are gifted the deposit. If you go down the traditional route with your mortgage, you may also be able to bypass the genuine savings requirement if you can prove six to 12 months of rental history. However, this will depend on your lender.

Can I buy a house with $10,000 deposit?

If you are purchasing a low-cost property, meet the criteria to borrow a high loan, and are claiming the First Home Owners Grant, it may be possible to purchase a property with a $10,000 deposit. However, chances are you will end up paying at least this amount in Lenders Mortgage Insurance.

Can I Get a Home Loan with No Deposit?

How long does money have to be in my account for a mortgage?

When applying for a home loan, most lenders want to see genuine savings. But what does that mean, exactly? While each institution will have its own policies, this will generally mean savings held or accumulated for at least three months.

Can you borrow more than the purchase price of a house?

The only way you can borrow more than the property value of a home is through a guarantor loan. If you are a first home buyer, will be using the home as an investment property or are constructing a home, you could borrow up to 105%. If you are using it for debt consolidating and purchase, you can borrow up to 110% of the property value.

Can I get help with a deposit for a house?

As mentioned in this article, you can seek financial assistance from a lender or guarantors to help put a deposit down on a property. The First Home Owners Grant also exists to help first time buyers put down a deposit, however this is only applicable to residential homes.

How can I save for a house deposit?

So, you’ve decided you want to go down the traditional route for a home deposit? There are various steps you can take to get there faster:

Determine how much you will need

The first step for saving for a home deposit is determining how much you will actually need. Even if you haven’t decided on exactly what you want to buy, start window-shopping around in the areas you’re interested in. While this may change in accordance with current market value, this will give you an idea of median prices. Then, look at how much you will be able to comfortably borrow and payback in light of your current financial circumstances. Factor in your FHOG eligibility and this should give you a starting point for how much you’ll need for a deposit.

Manage your debts

Whether it’s credit card repayments, a personal loan or small lending services like Afterpay or ZipMoney, now is the time to get on top of any debt obligations.

The less debt you have, the easier it is going to be to secure a mortgage. However, that’s not to say that using credit is a bad thing as a potential borrower. Paying back debts on time can boost your credit rating, which can help you get your application over the line.

Cut back where possible

Many people choose to move back in with their parents or with housemates to reduce their living costs. Other options include selling a car and catching public transport, eating out less and eliminating expenses that are ‘wants’, not ‘needs’.

Create a savings plan

Once you’re aware of how much you need to save, what you can cut back on and any debts you need to pay back, you can create a budget and savings plan. This will not only help you get your deposit together but also satisfy the genuine savings requirements when applying for a home loan.

Can I get a mortgage on my own?

Yes, it is possible to apply for a home loan without the assistance of a mortgage broker. However, it can be a confusing, stressful and time-consuming process if you’re not up to speed with real estate jargon and current property market.

Updated by Kathryn Lee August 2020

A mortgage broker will be able to find you the best mortgage deals and ensure you’re well-placed to get approved for a loan. Contact one of eChoice’s experienced mortgage brokers today and get one step closer to buying your dream home.

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living in .

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Looking to buy in Ultimo, NSW 2007.

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This information is a guide only and is an estimate only based on the past 12 months of aggregated online mortgage enquiries from eChoice and partner programs.


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You saved up for the deposit, did all the paperwork and scored yourself a home loan. Congratulations, all your hard work has paid off! But what happens if after a month, a year or a decade you realise your home loan situation is no longer the best fit? Whether you didn’t score yourself the best possible mortgage rate at the time or your financial circumstances have changed, it’s a common scenario.

The good news is, you’re not locked in for life. At any time, you can refinance and switch over to another home loan. But what are the costs of refinancing, and how do they stack up against the benefits? Here, we give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about refinancing your home loan.

What’s involved in refinancing your home loan?

Generally, the objective of refinancing is to find another mortgage with a lower interest rate or repayments. So, the first step is to speak to your current lender to see if they have a more competitive option. This may include discounted interest rates or waived fees.

You should also look around at the rates and specials offered by different lenders, as well as the costs involved in switching over.

Once you have decided which path to go down, you will need to apply for your new home loan. While the application process varies amongst different lenders, you will normally need to provide any relevant personal, financial and property documentation.

Approval can take anywhere between a day to eight businesses days. From there, your new lender will communicate with your old lender to let them know you will be exiting, and take care of any necessary steps like title transfer. Or, if you’re staying with the same lenders, they’ll switch over your mortgage. Then, you will go through the settlement process again, just like you did with your original home loan.

What fees do you have to pay when refinancing?

So, what costs are involved in refinancing a home? And is there a penalty to refinance your mortgage? Here’s the breakdown:

Discharge: While early exit fees are no longer a concern for those looking to refinance, you will typically need to pay a discharge fee to your old lender to close down the loan. This ranges from between around $100-$200 and the details of the discharge fee can usually be found in your initial loan contract. If you have a fixed rate loan, you may also need to pay an extra break fee for ending your loan during that period.

Setup fees: Your new lender will charge you an application fee to cover processing your documentation. This generally includes the application fees, valuation fees, mortgage registration fees and settlement fees. Mortgage registration fees will usually cost around $120, a bank valuation fee will cost around $220 and application fees will usually cost around $500.

Title insurance: If you choose to do a fast-track refinance, you may also be asked to pay title insurance to cover the period before your property title is officially transferred, which can set you back around $500 to $3000. However, some lenders will cover this cost for you.

Lender’s Mortgage Insurance: If you’re refinancing a larger loan or haven’t yet accrued 20% equity on your current loan, you may also need to pay Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI). Your lender will sometimes carry out a new property valuation on your property. If you’re valuation is low, lenders will be likely to make you pay lenders mortgage insurance. Before choosing to refinance, be sure to ask for an upfront valuation as a precaution to avoid paying this extra and often costly fee.

All of these fees can add up quickly, so it’s important to determine upfront what you’ll owe to avoid any hidden costs.

Why does refinancing cost so much?

Refinancing your mortgage may seem like a large up-front investment. This is because you’re dealing with two different lenders, who both charge their own fees. However, for many people, these initial costs are outweighed by the amount they would need to pay in interest fees if they didn’t refinance.

Do you pay stamp duty when you refinance? 

You may have to pay stamp duty if you are refinancing. The stamp duty will usually amount to 0.35% of the loan and will include GST, but this will vary between states. You may be liable to pay stamp duty if you increase the amount of your loan during the process of refinancing or name of the borrower is changed. On top of these costs, you may be charged with a mortgage registration fee for switching to a new lender.

Can I refinance my mortgage with no closing costs?

Yes, some lenders offer no-closing cost refinancing, but the trade-off is normally a higher interest rate which affects your total mortgage balance. This is because a borrower will pay closing costs in order to pay for the title searches, title insurance and application fees. By paying a higher interest rate, you will end up covering these costs. While it can be tempting to reduce your up-front costs, be sure to ask how it will affect your total mortgage repayments.

Do you have to pay title insurance again when refinancing?

When refinancing, your old lender will need to transfer property ownership to the new lender. This involves title insurance costs, which is often paid by the lender. However, some lenders do charge you a title insurance fee, so be sure to ask about it from the get go. The process of transferring ownership from the old lender to the new lender can take up to two weeks, and insurance will be able to act as a safety net in circumstances where the property has not been transferred properly. 

First Home Buyers Grant: Everything you need to know

First introduced by the government in 2000 but notorious for chaning its conditions, here is everything you need to know about the first home owners grant.

What are typical title fees for refinancing?

Title insurance can cost anywhere between $500 to $3000 for fast track refinancing and will typically paid before the title is officially transferred. Most mortgage providers will also need to do a title search, to confirm you own the deed to the property but this only costs around $30. 

Which bank or lender is good for refinancing?

The best bank or lender is always the one with a home loan that fits your individual financial needs. To ensure you’re getting the best possible deal, it’s a good idea to talk to your current lender first.

Different banks offer different refinancing incentives. For example, Commonwealth Bank offers a $2000 cashback bonus when you apply by 6 April 2020 and fund by 12 June 2020 for loans that are $250,000 and over. This applies to:

  • Owner occupied home loans with principal and interest repayments only
  • All investment loans
  • All Viridian lines of credit
  • Excludes bridging loans and interest-only owner occupied loans. 

What are the advantages of refinancing?

So, is it smart to refinance your home loan, or a big mistake? Well, there are plenty of good reasons you might refinance your property. Many people choose to do so to reduce the interest rate on their existing home loan. This can lower your monthly repayments and allow you to build equity in your home at a faster rate.

Some people also choose to refinance to switch from a variable rate home loan to a fixed rate one, to give them more security against the fluctuating property market.

Or vice versa, they may want to switch from a fixed rate to take advantage of the lower insurance rate that normally comes with a variable home loan. As we’ll cover later, some people also choose to refinance and take cash-out, which allows them to borrow against the equity in their home.

Do I need a lawyer to refinance my mortgage?

To ensure your home loan is legally-binding, your broker or lender will typically enlist a solicitor to prepare your loan documents on their behalf. These are sent to the solicitor for them to review, and back to you to sign. This is to ensure the whole legal transaction will run smoothly and will mitigate the chance of any legal dramas in the future.

You can also approach a lawyer yourself for legal advice on your mortgage and assist you to manage the various channels of correspondence that will be involved in the refinancing process.

What documents do you need to refinance your mortgage?

The process of refinancing can be complex and one that you are not familiar with. For those who are new to refinancing, you are probably wondering what kind of paperwork and documents you need to provide to your lender. Many of these will be similar to the documents you provided when you applied for your current mortgage. Typically you will be asked to provide: 

  • Proof of identity, including passport, driver’s licence and/or birth certificate
  • Proof of income, including payslips and/or tax returns
  • Records of living expenses and debts such as credit cards or other loans
  • Your current home loan statement
  • Mortgage documentation like the loan period, financial penalty for exiting early and the date of the loan’s commencement

How soon can you refinance?

There’s no minimum term to refinance your home – you can do so within the first year. However, you may find some lenders will not refinance a mortgage they issued to you within the last 120-150 days, in which case you will need to wait or go elsewhere. The actual refinancing process can take anywhere between three days if you choose a lender that offers a ‘fast-track’ process or up to four weeks if you go with the standard process.

When’s the best time to refinance your home?

There’s no definitive right or wrong time to refinance your property. However, there a few things to take into consideration to make sure it’s worth the cost and effort at this point in time. Firstly, you want to look at how much equity you have already built in your property. This is the difference between the value of the home and how much is still owing.

Generally, you will be in a more favourable position to refinance when you have at least 20% equity in your home. This is because the lender will generally see you as lower risk and provide you with a better deal. It’s also a good idea to find out whether you will need to pay for Lenders Mortgage Insurance again. This can easily add up to thousands, which can outweigh the benefits of switching your home loan.

How often should you refinance your house?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there has been a decrease in the total value of home loan switching commitments were down 2% in November 2019 from $9.83 billion to $9.63 billion. You should only refinance when your current home loan terms are no longer serving you. If you’re happy with your lender, there’s no reason you have to make the switch.

What is cash-out refinancing?

You may be wondering ‘should I do a cash-out refinance?’ This is when you borrow against your home’s current equity. This can generally be used for whatever you like, whether it’s renovations, a new car, a wedding, education or another property — but only up to a certain amount. Generally, most lenders allow you to borrow 80% of the value of the property, minus the debt that you have left to pay. A cash-out refinance may be a good option for you if you are able to invest the money into something that will pay off in dividends, such as renovating a property to increase its value or negative gearing on an investment property.

Do you need an appraisal to refinance?

Most lenders will issue a valuation (not an appraisal) when you apply for a home loan and refinancing is no exception. Unlike an appraisal, this is legally-binding and must be carried out by a qualified professional. Valuations are usually far more detailed than appraisals, which are primarily carried about to give real estate agents an idea of a property’s value. The purpose of the valuation is to get an unbiased evaluation of your home’s market value, to help the lender determine their risk in lending to you.

What do valuers look for when refinancing?

When inspecting your home, valuers are generally looking at the location, type and size. They also pay attention to its age, condition and any zoning restrictions.

How can I increase the appraised value of my home for refinance?

Something as minor as cracks in your walls or an untidy garden can affect your property valuation and as a consequence, affect the success of your refinancing application. Some ways you can score better on your property valuation include:

  • Making sure your property is clean and well-presented
  • Doing any necessary minor repairs around the house
  • Replacing worn out carpet and flooring
  • Applying a fresh coat of paint where necessary
  • Keeping the lawn and outdoors areas tidy and free from clutter
  • Ensuring there is plenty of storage areas in the home
  • Decluttering your house

What happens if my valuation comes back lower than expected?

A low valuation can make refinancing more difficult for property owners. In fact, a study by online lender State Custodians showed that one in seven home owners were unsuccessful in refinancing their mortgage because the value of their property had fallen.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve reached a dead end. In this scenario, you should seek a second opinion on the value of your home. You may want to consider making the touch-ups recommended in the previous section. It can also help to be present for your valuation, so you can answer questions about anything that isn’t immediately clear.

Updated by Vidya Kathirgamalingam March 2020

Now that you know the costs of refinancing as well as the benefits, you can make an informed decision as to whether it’s the right choice for you. Whether you’re buying your first property or want to make the switch, eChoice’s mortgage brokers can help you compare hundreds of home loans to find a suitable option.

Are you looking to purchase a property or refinance?

While saving for a home deposit is undoubtedly challenging, decoding home loan jargon can prove almost as difficult! From caveats to capital gains tax, you may feel like you need an encyclopaedia just to get through a meeting with your lender. But while not all home loan terminology is going to be relevant to your personal situation, there’s one that all home-buyers should familiarise themselves with: the loan to value ratio, or LVR.

No matter what type of property you’re buying or where in Australia you live, this is a concept that applies to anyone taking out a mortgage. Read on for your guide to the loan to value ratio, including what it is, how to calculate it and what it means for borrowers.

What is loan to value ratio on a mortgage?

The loan to value ratio (LVR) is a term commonly used by lenders to determine your borrowing power. Essentially, it’s the amount you need to borrow, calculated as a percentage of the current value of your home.

The higher the LVR, the greater the risk to a lender. Consequently, lenders look for LVRs that are around 80% of the property’s value or lower. Home loans under 80% of a property’s value typically won’t attract Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). However, those over 80% will have to pay this insurance, unless they can offer assets as security over the loan.

How do you calculate loan to value on a mortgage?

So, how is the LVR calculated, exactly? In order to calculate LVR on a mortgage, lenders must first determine the value of your property. They do so by carrying out an independent valuation of the property. They then divide the loan amount by the value of the property and multiply it by 100 to get a percentage.

You can use this loan to value calculator to help you determine your LVR.


How do lenders calculate a property’s value?

Fixed or Variable Interest Rate: Which is right for you?

Interest rate and home loan jargon can be confusing to understand – that is, at least at first. Cut through the muddle; your guide to fixed, variable, comparison and everything in-between.

Lenders use independent valuers to give them an accurate and unbiased appraisal of a property’s value. There are a few factors lenders use to determine how much a property is worth. These include property type, age and condition and geographic location, as well as current market conditions and zoning restrictions. There are also three different types of valuations.

Full valuations: This involves a full, in-person inspection of the home. It’s generally used in scenarios where there is a higher risk to the lenders, such as high loan amounts, more complex transactions or properties in areas where there was been a rapid increase in property prices that may not be sustainable.

Curbside valuations: This is essentially a ‘drive-by’ valuation of the property, where the lender will examine the condition and location externally from the street. This is generally used in situations with a lower loan amount, where no lenders mortgage insurance will be paid.

Desktop valuations: This is when no inspection of the property is carried out and the lender calculates the LVR using the median price of the property. It’s generally used in capital cities and with low loan to value mortgages.

Do all lenders need a property valuation?

Not all lenders will ask for a full property valuation, which typically cost between $250 and $450 each. Some lenders won’t worry about a property valuation if the property already satisfies their lending criteria. Other lenders will use a desktop or computer-generated assessment.

A lender usually orders a property valuation if:

  • You have an LVR of over 80%
  • You’re not the only person buying the property
  • Your loan is more than $800,000
  • You cannot supply full income evidence
  • The property’s location is in a regional area
  • The dwelling is off-the-plan
  • You are related to the vendor
  • You’re not buying through a licensed real estate agent

Do I use the property value or purchase price to calculate LVR?

You may be wondering, what happens if the actual purchase price of your home is different from the lender’s valuation? Generally, the lender will use whichever amount is lower to calculate your loan to value ratio.

When does a lender use the lower value to calculate LVR?

This occurs most commonly when a property has been purchased off the plan and the value has gone up or down since the contract was signed. It can often happen in situations of favourable purchase, which is when someone is purchasing a property off their family as a discounted price.

What percentage of house value can you borrow?

While some lenders will allow you to borrow up to 90 to 95% of your property’s value, you will begin to accrue LMI (Lenders Mortgage Insurance) once you surpass 80%.

How much is LMI?

The amount you need to pay in Lenders Mortgage Insurance depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Your lender and insurance
  • The value of the property you are purchasing
  • The stamp duty charged in your state
  • Whether you are a first time home buyer
  • Whether you intend to live in the property
  • The terms of your mortgage

To get an estimate for your LMI premium, multiply your LMI rate your LMI rate by your loan amount.

For example $90,000 x 0.932% = $838.80. Then, add the applicable stamp duty on LMI for the state you are buying the property in.

Can I borrow 100% of my LVR?

So, what is the maximum loan to value ratio? Turns out, some lenders will allow you to borrow 100% LVR if you have a guarantor to support the application. This would involve using a family member or friend who owns a property to use it to secure the higher home loan.

Can a lender restrict my LVR?

The lower your LVR, the less risk your loan presents to lenders. So, lenders are within their rights to restrict your LVR. While some lenders will allow you to loan up to 90-95% of the property’s value, others will cap the amount at 80%.

How can I reduce my LVR?

Going just $1 over the 80% threshold can easily cost you thousands of dollars in lender’s mortgage insurance. The good news is, you can reduce your LVR by saving up a larger deposit for the property you want to purchase – therefore reducing the amount you need to borrow.

How do you figure out your debt to income ratio?

Your loan to value ratio isn’t the only metric used by lenders to determine your borrowing power. When applying for a loan, your debt to income ratio is one of the primary factors used to determine your risk.

It refers to the percentage of your gross monthly income that goes to paying your monthly debt payments. To calculate your debt to income ratio, add up all your monthly debt obligations (for example, credit card repayments or other loans), then divide them by your gross monthly income (how much you earn before tax and other deductions).

The loan to value ratio for refinancing

Lenders also use the loan to value ratio to calculate how much cash you can pull out on a refinance. As the property value of your home may have changed since you bought the property, they will carry out an independent bank valuation. Most lenders will allow you to borrow up to 80% of the value of the property, minus the debt that you have left to pay.

Another similar option is a home equity loan. Home equity loans and cash-out refinances are alike, in that they allow you to access the equity you have accumulated in your home. But while a cash-out refinance replaces your current loan with a new term, home equity loan is an additional payment to make.

Home equity is the difference between what your home is worth and the amount you owe on your mortgage. A home equity loan allows you to access funds by borrowing against this balance through a lender.

How is equity percentage calculated?

Given most banks will likely lend you no more than 80% of your home’s current value, here’s how to calculate your home’s usable equity:

Do you have to pay back a home equity loan?

Yes, just like any type of credit, you must pay back a home equity loan within the timeframe laid out in your terms. Failure to do so can result in legal action or in a lender taking your property as payment. However, you generally have a much longer time to pay back a home equity loan, as well as more flexible terms around repayment.

Need help securing a loan to purchase your dream property? Our experienced brokers have access to hundreds of competitive home loan deals, so we can help you find the right lender for you.

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Trying to sell your home while buying another can be tricky especially when it comes to timing. Sometimes you’ll find the ideal property before selling your existing home, leaving less funds available for your purchase. But the good news is that a bridging loan is sometimes available to cover the shortfall.

Bridging loans can be complicated to get your head around and it is a decision that requires careful deliberation. We have created an entry-level guide answering popular questions to help you gain a better understanding on the matter.

How does a bridging loan work?

A bridging loan is designed to ‘bridge’ the gap when you’re trying to secure a new mortgage for a new property but haven’t yet sold your existing property. This loan allows you to buy your new place without waiting for the old one to sell. They are particularly helpful in locations where properties can stay on the market for a while. Before buying, you should look into the clearance rates of your area to get a rough idea of how long selling might take. This also means that while you wait for your first property to sell you are accruing interest on both loans.

Different types of bridging loans

Bridging loans usually take two forms: open bridging loans or closed bridging loans.

Closed bridging loans are used when a date of sale on your existing property has been determined. These loans are considered less risky by lenders as the property is already sold and they are aware of when they will receive payment. In this type of bridging loan, you will pay for the loan, any interest accrued and fees on the date of the sale.

Open bridging loans are used when you have found your next property but have not yet sold your old property. You should know that lenders aren’t a big fan of the uncertainty that comes with this arrangement. In this situation, you’ll need proof that your old place is being advertised and be ready to answer a lot of questions on your new property too. An open bridging loan can be made between six months up to 12 months. If this one-year limit is exceeded, you may face higher interest rates.

A bridging loan can be quite risky and isn’t the best option for many people. You may be better off asking for an extended settlement period or just waiting for the sale of your old property.

How long can you have a bridging loan for?

In an open bridging loan – the usual form – you will have between six and 12 months to sell your existing property. If you have a closed bridging loan, your loan will last until your date of sale. This is called the ‘bridging period’ and your repayment terms will depend on your lender. During the bridging period, you may be asked to make repayments on the loan. However, some lenders will freeze your bridging loan repayments and only ask for repayments on your existing loan.

Do I qualify for a bridging loan?

  • You typically need more than 50% in equity to make a bridging loan worth it. Home equity is the difference between what your home is worth and the amount you owe on your mortgage. Want more information on equity? Check out our guide.
  • You’re expected to meet some standard requirements proving your current income, the status of your employment, expenses and other supporting documents.
  • The bridging period must be between six and 12 months.

How much can you borrow on a bridging loan?

Under a bridging loan, you can borrow up to 80% of the peak debt. Peak debt is made up of your new property’s sale price plus your existing mortgage. This means you need to have at least 20% of the peak debt in your savings to act as a deposit for your new place.

What is my mortgage repayment?



How is a bridging loan calculated?

How much your bridging loan costs is a simple calculation made by the banks. The banks take the price of your new home, add the remainder of your mortgage and then subtract the most likely sale price of your current home. This valuation from the bank will cost you a couple of hundred bucks per property. They will also reduce your projected sale by about 15% as a “fire sale buffer” in case your property falls short of the expected price.

This final number is called an “ongoing balance” or “end debt”. Much like a normal loan, the banks will then assess your ability and reliability in paying off this loan.

The total amount borrowed is called the “peak debt” which includes the ongoing balance of your existing mortgage, plus your new mortgage and all associated fees including stamp duty, legal fees and lender fees.

bridging loan

Does a bridging loan affect your credit score?

It can – if you repay your bridging loan on time, this will improve your credit score. But, if you make late repayments this will be detrimental to your credit score. We recently put together a guide on credit scores which will give you an in-depth explanation.

Can I get a bridging loan with bad credit?

Traditionally, those looking for a loan are expected to provide their credit score to judge their reliability to lenders.

With a bridging loan though, the lender is mainly worried about the security put up by the borrower – this part is non-negotiable. With a bridging loan, the lender is protected because defaulting on repayments would give them the right to sell the security under the terms. As the lender has this added protection, less weight is given to the individual’s credit history.

Can I use a bridging loan to buy a house?

Yes – bridging loans are designed to finance your new purchase before your old property is sold and settled.

Do banks still offer bridge loans?

Yes, they do, and some lenders have now lowered interest rates to standard rates. Previously, the rate for a bridging loan was higher.

Can you get 100% bridging finance?

No, you cannot. Under a bridging loan you can borrow up to 80% of the peak debt. Your peak debt is the sum of your new property’s sale price plus your existing mortgage. This means you need to have at least 20% of the peak debt in your savings to act as a deposit for your new property.

Do you want to find out more about bridging finance? Then contact eChoice, our brokers have access to 100’s of products, so we’ll find you a competitive mortgage rate.

Words by Michelle Elias

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With South Australia’s real estate market currently going from strength to strength, there’s never been a better time to get on the property ladder. And the good news is, if you’re thinking of buying your first home in SA, you don’t have to do it alone. The South Australian government has a First Home Owner Grant to make it more affordable for you to purchase a residential property.

The First Home Owner Grant was introduced nationwide in July 2000 by the Howard Government. Originally designed to offset the newly introduced the GST (goods and services tax), the scheme reduces the financial burden on Australians buying their first home. Each state and territory has its own FHOG, so it’s important to familiarise yourself with the requirements and regulations in your state before you apply. Read on for your in-depth guide to everything you need to know about the First Home Owner Grant SA.

What is the First Home Owner Grant SA?

You may be thinking “Wait, is there a First Home Buyers Grant in SA, too?” They’re actually one and the same.

When it was first introduced, the FHOG was called the First Home Buyer Grant and was worth up to $7,000 with it originally applying to new homes being built and established property. Since then, the terms of the grant has changed 10 times, in response to the changing national budget and real estate prices.

You can look at these changes below:

How much is the First Home Owner Grant SA?

The FHOG is currently $15,000 in South Australia for eligible home buyers purchasing a new residential property. This applies to any fixed dwelling suitable for residence, including a house, apartment, unit, townhouse or vacant lot that you intend to build a home on.

The FHOG is a one-off, lump sum payment made to a first home buyer whether they are buying the property as an individual, couple or co-partner. Therefore, one payment is made per property. Consequently, if there are multiple applicants for the one property, then the payment is split amongst the applicants. If you are deemed eligible, there are no limitations around what the FHOG can be spent on.

If you are purchasing a new or substantially renovated apartment and entered into the agreement before 30 June 2018, you may also be eligible for the off-the-plan (OTP) Stamp Duty Concession. This gives you a partial discount on stamp duty for new or substantially renovated apartments apartments valued up to $500,000.


Can you get the First Home Owner Grant with established homes in SA?

Unfortunately, the First Home Owner Grant for established homes ended on 30 June 2014. If you are thinking of purchasing an existing home in South Australia, you will not be eligible for the FHOG.

When is the First Home Owner Grant SA ending?

While the First Home Owner Grant for established homes ceased in 2014, there is currently no end date on the FHOG for new homes. However, always check the most up-to-date information before you apply, to ensure you’re aware of any recent changes.

What is First Home Owner Grant SA eligibility?

In order to claim the First Home Owner Grant in SA, you must meet the eligibility requirements. These include:

  • All parties must be over the age of 18 at the time of application
  • You must be a ‘natural person’ – meaning an individual, not a trust or company
  • At least one of the applicants must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident. New Zealanders with special category visas may also be eligible
  • Neither you nor your spouse can have previously owned a residential property anywhere in Australia before 1 July 2000
  • Neither you nor your spouse can have previously owned a residential property and lived in it for more than 6 months after 1 July 2000
  • Neither you nor your spouse can have previously received a FHOG in any state or territory, unless they subsequently repaid it
  • You must live in the home as your primary place of residence for at least six months, within 12 months of the settlement or construction of the home
  • The market value of the home must not exceed $575,000. This includes the value of the land, if you are building your home.  Farms are also eligible. However, the value of a farm property is based on the dwelling and a standard residential block or curtilage area surrounding the home. If the dwelling is still to be built and is on a farm, then a building site measurement and curtilage area will be valued.
  • The property must be new. For the purposes of the scheme, the SA government defines ‘new’ as: a home that has not been previously occupied or sold as a place of residence and includes substantially renovated home or ex-display homes

For more information on grant eligibility, please visit the First Home Owner Grant Eligibility Checklist provided by Revenue SA. This checklist is easy to use and helps you to avoid any confusion.

If your circumstances change after you’ve received the grant or you fail and you no longer meet the eligibility criteria or you fail to move into the property within one year, you will be required to pay back the grant. If not, you may be taken to court or face penalties.

How to apply for the First Home Owner Grant SA

There are two ways to apply for the First Home Owners Grant in South Australia. If you are not applying for a home loan, you can apply directly yourself through the Revenue SA website. However, many do-it-yourself applications are rejected due to form inaccuracies. In order to avoid issues and speed up the process, it’s best to apply through an approved agent. This can be your bank, lending institution, mortgage broker or solicitor. They will be able to submit the application on your behalf, and do this at the same time as your home loan.

Revenue SA has an list of approved agents.

first home owner grant sa

Whether you are applying directly or through an approved agent, there are a few things you should do to help ensure your application is successful:

  • Fill in all sections on the application form
  • Supply the correct account information for the grant payment
  • Include a copy of the Contract of Sale and a copy of your building contract
  • Have proof of lodgement of title registration with the Lands Titles Office.
  • Provide all necessary documentation for each application. This may include:
  1. Australian birth certificate or citizenship certificate
  2. Australian drivers licence, passport or proof of age ID card
  3. Medicare card
  4. Motor vehicle registration
  5. Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs card
  6. Utility bills for proof of identity and address (ie. electricity, gas, water)
  7. Rates notice
  8. Building or contents insurance policy
  9. Lease agreement
  10. Electoral enrolment card
  11. Taxation assessment notice
  12. Mortgage papers for the property you’re claiming the FHOG for
  13. Marriage certificate, if applicable

How long does the First Home Owner Grant SA take to process?

The Guide to Property Investment

Thinking of buying an investment property in Australia but aren’t sure where to start? Or perhaps you want to know how much you can borrow for an investment loan? Check out eChoice’s handy guide

The amount of time your grant takes to be processed depends on how you are applying.

New or off-the-plan homes

If you are applying through an approved agent, you will receive payment at the date of settlement.

If you are applying directly, you will receive payment within five days after the approval of the application, provided you have provided proof of lodgement for registration with the Lands Title Office.

Contract to build

If you are applying through an approved agent, you will receive payment on the date of the first progress payment (from your agent)

If you are applying directly, you will receive payment within five days after approval, following proof of foundation being laid (you must provide a copy of the first progress invoice)

Owner builder

If you are applying through an approved agent, you will receive payment when appropriate supporting evidence is provided to your payment

If you are applying directly, you will receive payment within five days of RevenueSA approving the application lodged with sufficient supporting evidence.

New grants available due to Coronavirus

Until December 31 this year, first home buyers may be eligible for the HomeBuilder scheme. The HomeBuilder stimulus package was introduced as COVID-19 recovery initiative and could see first home buyers receive up to $25,000 for new home builds. This incentive that is being provided by the federal government means that first home buyers in SA could receive up to $40,000 in grants if they receive the $15,000 first home owners grant from the SA state government.

However, the grants do not come free as there are a range of eligibility requirements. The scheme is restricted to owner-occupiers who are making ‘substantial renovations’ on their home. In order to qualify, you must have already spent at least $150,000 on renovations and you must be enlisting the help of builders during this process. There is also a means test, so if you’re a couple who earns more than $200,000 a year or an individual that earns more than $150,000 a year- then you will not be eligible. You can read more about the scheme here.

If you’re not buying a home in South Australia, then you may be eligible for the First Home Buyer Grant in another state. Just remember that all states have different rulings, so you need to read the legislation before applying for the FHOG.

Are you looking to buy your first home in South Australia? Get in touch with  eChoice. Our brokerscan help you understand the First Home Owners Grant SA and ensure your application goes smoothly. Plus, we have access to 100’s of mortgage products, so, we can help you find a competitive deal on your mortgage.

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