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Everyone has been talking about mortgages for the last 12 months – ever since COVID-19 arrived, the topic of home loans has been constantly in the air.

From mortgage holidays to interest rates falling to record lows, it’s been a huge year for the finance industry.

It’s also been a huge year for you as a borrower, which is why my question for you is: when was the last time you checked your home loan interest rate?

If you haven’t taken a look at your home loan since 2019, then there’s a really good chance you’re paying too much for your mortgage.

This is because rates have fallen and banks and lenders are being more competitive than ever to try and get your business.

There are some big differences between packaged variable versus basic variable interest rates at the moment – and if you make the switch, you stand to save a lot of money.

What are the best home loan deals on the market today?

The answer to this question quite literally changes daily, but at the time of writing we are able to secure fixed home loans for our clients with an interest rate as low as 1.99%, and variable rates are also very low.

When I talk about packaged variable loans versus basic variable interest rate loans, you might not think there’s much of a difference.

The two loan products do sound very similar, but they’re actually really different.

A basic loan is just that – it’s a loan with no bells and whistles. You can’t save money in an offset account to reduce the amount of interest you pay. You can’t redraw money from your loan, if you make extra payments.

It’s a simple, no frills home loan and it’s quite popular with first home buyers or those borrowers who doesn’t want to pay extra features – they just want to pay their home loan off as quickly as possible.

A packaged variable loan comes at a cost, usually around $400. But for that fee, you get:

Banks are very competitive right now, with many of them even offering big cashback incentives to get your business.

We have lenders on our books who are offering between $2,000 and $4,000 as a bonus for you, if you refinance your loan with them.

Every bank has a different policy and loan criteria, which is where we can help. If you are thinking of refinancing and want to take advantage of lower interest rates or a great cash back offer, contact us today and we’ll see how we can help you get into a new loan that saves you money.

I want to share a recent scenario with you. This home loan deal should have been a shoe-in.

The clients, a professional couple, earned really good money – between them, they cleared a healthy six-figure sum each year – so they could more than afford the home loan repayments on the loan we were applying for.

So we ran the numbers, collected all of their paperwork, checked their payslips and did all the groundwork to submit their loan to a suitable lender.

Everything looked good from our end, so our team was shocked when the note came back from the bank: “declined” due to missed/late payments on an old credit card.

The following week, it happened again. The borrowers’ record looked squeaky clean to us, and when we asked if they had any repayment issues or red flags, they said no.

Turns out they’d had a credit card two years ago, which had been closed for well over a year, and they’d fallen behind on their repayments. Again, we were told the loan was declined due to missed/late repayments.

Here’s the thing about applying for a home loan: there can be no secrets any more. Not since Open Banking was introduced.

What is Open Banking and how does it impact you?

I think there’s still a lot of confusion around Open Banking, which came into effect around the start of this financial year (July 2020).

In a nutshell, Open Banking gives you the ability to share your banking data (like your transaction history and account balances) with third parties that have been accredited by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). These third parties may be other banks, financial institutions or fintech businesses.

It was introduced to give you, the consumer, better and clearer access to your data. You control which third party can access your data, and how they can use that data under the open banking framework.

But here’s the thing: when you apply for a home loan, under Open Banking, lenders are sharing more information about you and your credit history than they ever have before.

This means that if you apply for any sort of credit, you need to be upfront and honest about any potential blemishes in your past.

Should you tell your broker or bank about previous defaults or missed payments?

Absolutely! There is nothing to gain by hiding any information, no matter how big or small it seems to you.

As your broker, we operate under something known as Best Interest Duty (BID), which means we have a legal obligation to place the client with the right bank for you. If you tell us about a previous default, it might be the case that Bank A is likely to decline your loan – so we’ll place your application with Bank B instead, because their policy is a little more forgiving.

We always ask the question: have you had any issues in the last two years when paying any of your bills or debts?

Your answer to this is crucial. You have to be as honest as possible, otherwise we risk applying for a home loan with a bank or lender who, if we’d known the whole story upfront, we never would have applied with.

Moral of the story?

Don’t cover it up – it most cases we can work around the problem and find a finance solution for you. If you’re not sure where your credit rating stands, you can always request a free copy of your credit profile. And if you have any questions about how you can get into a home loan that suits you, contact us today.

Confidence in Sydney’s rental market is starting to return as vacancy rates decline, according to the latest report from the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW).

The vacancy rate in Sydney dropped to 3.4% in November, down from October’s rate of 4.3%. This is the lowest vacancy rate Sydney recorded since the first quarter.

All regions in Sydney reported declines in vacancies, with the inner-ring region dropping to 4.6%, the middle-ring to 4.4%. and the outer-ring to 1.8%.

“It’s been a long year and one that’s been full of challenges for everyone. When COVID-19 hit, many tenants were faced with the prospect of losing their jobs and had to make some hard financial decisions,” said Tim McKibbin, CEO of REINSW.

McKibbin said things appear to have started to settle, as people begin to return to work while other adopt a hybrid pattern of working.

“Overall, there’s a renewed confidence in what the future holds and this has had a flow-on effect to the residential rental market,” he said.

Vacancy rates in most regional areas in the state are also on the downtrend.

“The key message from this month’s results is that there is light at the end of the tunnel for both landlords and tenants,” McKibbin said.

A separate report by SQM Research, however, showed that rents continued to fall over the past month. Still, there are signs that could point to a reversal in the abundance of listings in Sydney CBD.

“They are still very elevated. But we could be starting to see some of the population moving back to the CBD and inner-city locations,” said Louis Christopher, managing director of SQM Research

Source: Gerv Tacadena at

Have you been looking into the idea of becoming a landlord – but then 2020 happened, and all of your plans went out the window?

It’s true that 2020 has delivered a number of challenges to property owners, particularly those investors who had non-paying tenants who they legally weren’t allowed to evict.

The moratorium on evictions has now ended, and balance is not just returning to rental markets and in many cases, rental markets are booming.

That’s just one reason why this could be a great year for you to get a well-priced investment that helps you build long-term wealth and financial security.

But it’s not the only reason; there are plenty of other factors that mean 2021 is shaping up to be an attractive year to purchase an investment property, and it includes:

The fact that investment loans have never been cheaper.

We are getting mortgage deals for our clients that are the most competitive that we ever seen, and we have been in the finance industry for over three decades.

Landlords who were paying over 4% for their investment home loans this time last year, may now be eligible to apply for a residential mortgage as low as 1.99%. Not sure what’s available or how munch you could save? Get in touch with our friendly team for an obligation-free appraisal,

The fact that now is the ideal time to negotiate a bargain.

Did you know that the government is estimating up to 500,000 jobs will be lost, once the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs are rolled back in March?

When this happens, it’s possible that mortgage defaults will increase for everyday mortgage holders. It may also be the case that investors who are struggling to manage their investments or their businesses, may offload their properties.

This puts you in a prime position to negotiate a good price on the investment property you have your eye on.

The fact that you can “rent-vest” to access grants and incentives.

First-time buyers can access a number of government incentives that are not available to investors.

But that doesn’t mean they’re totally inaccessible. If you’re a first homebuyer, then you may be able to use a reinvesting strategy that allows you to leverage these grants and schemes to buy a home.

You can live in for 12 months, to satisfy the rules of each program and incentive, then rent it out as an investment, while you live somewhere cheaper. You may be able to access tens of thousands of dollars worth of first homebuyer grants, incentives and discounts this way.

The fact that you may be able to borrow more than you thought.

With record-low interest rates in the market, which look like they’re here to stay for at least the next few years, right now it is the most affordable it’s ever been to get a loan and you may be able to borrow more money from banks than you were eligible for in the past.

This time last year, your borrowing power may have been $600,000. Now with interest rates so much lower, it could have jumped to $700,000.

You don’t know unless you find out!

So, for those of you who can see the potential financial rewards of investing in property in 2021, get in touch today. We can help you assess your borrowing power and give you an understanding of how much a bank or lender might be willing to lend to you.

If you are not sure that you’ll qualify for a loan for an investment property, we can review your situation and give you pointers about changes you could make, such as consolidating debts, or rearranging your credit cards, to improve your financial position.

This article contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs before making any decisions based on this information.

It’s one of the first questions that most borrowers ask me when we’re shopping around for a home loan:

“What’s the cheapest interest rate you can get for me?”

I totally understand the question – the interest rate you pay is going to determine how much your repayments cost you each month. It’s a very important part of the equation!

But sometimes, getting too fixated on the interest rate on offer can be like a game of “smokes and mirrors”.

Yes, you get the cheap rate – but at what cost?

In certain circumstances, going for the loan with the cut-price interest rate can cost more money in the long run.

Here are 3 ways a low-rate loan can deceive you:

When it’s a honeymoon rate

Many banks and lenders can fall into the habit of offering a better deal to new customers than to their existing home loan clients.

It is what’s known as a honeymoon rate and it can be quite deeply discounted compared to other loans on offer.

However, these types of deals usually only last for 12 months – 2 years at the most.

Once the honeymoon rate ends, you’re back on their standard variable rate, which could be even higher than other loans on the market.

Yes, you’ve enjoyed a good discount for the first year of the loan – but what about the next 29 years?

When it is loaded with expensive fees and charges

Sometimes, you get what you pay for.

If you pay for a basic loan, then it will come with basic inclusions. Think of it like Jetstar. Back when we could freely travel, we had the option of booking a Jetstar flight for a low price.

But once you add on $7 for seat selection, $12 for a sandwich and a coffee, $19 to update your carry-on luggage, a package to allow flexible changes and a credit card fee at the end, your fare is suddenly looking quite expensive.

Meanwhile, if you book a flexible fare with a full service carrier like Virgin Australia or Qantas, it might seem more expensive when you compare the initial price – but all of these inclusions come with the ticket price.

The same type of theory applies with home loans.

Let’s say the interest rate on Loan A is 2.7% with a $15 per month account keeping fee. The interest rate on Loan B is 2.8% with a $0 per month account keeping fee.

Depending on the size of your loan, the second option with the higher interest rate could be the less expensive option in the long run.

This is especially the case when you start to make headway with the principal of the loan, and the interest component of your repayment gets smaller and smaller.

When it prevents you from accessing other benefits

Generally the lowest-priced home loans are known as “basic” loans. They come with very few bells and whistles and don’t generally give the borrower access to extra facilities like redraw or offset.

And offset account allows you to “offset” your savings against your mortgage.

If you have $100,000 in savings, for example, and you save that in an offset account against your mortgage, that means you’ll pay no mortgage interest on $100,000 worth of your loan.

Your repayment will stay the same each month (assuming it’s a principal and interest loan) and the money you DON’T spend on interest will be directed towards the principal part of your mortgage – helping you pay the loan off far more quickly.

When you analyse all of the different loans, interest rates and fees and charges on offer, and you compare them against your specific situation, it quickly becomes clear that sometimes, the loan with the cheapest rate isn’t the best deal after all.

Working with experienced mortgage broker can help you by taking into account your income, your expenses and your goals and help you obtain a loan that offers the best deal for your specific situation – so you don’t end up spending more than you need to on your loan repayments. If you’d like a free mortgage health check or you’d like us to check your borrowing power, contact our friendly team today!


They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but the truth is, we are all influenced by the way homes are presented.

Whether it’s the cover of a book, the clothes someone wears or how a home is decorated, presentation is important. In fact when it comes time to sell your house, presentation is not just important, it’s crucial – as it feeds directly into the price you can expect to fetch.

In recent years a number of businesses have popped up to help people style their homes for sale, with anecdotal evidence that property styling can add tens of thousands of dollars to the ultimate sale price.

One of my very clever clients decided that she wanted to style her home in an effort to help property shoppers fall in love with it. The only problem? She was getting quotes of between $6,500 and $8,000 to stage the house for a period of 6-8 weeks. And of course, she wouldn’t get to keep any of the lovely items placed around her home!

If you have the budget to spend this money, it can be well worth the investment, as a beautifully staged home can attract more buyers and encourage more offers, ultimately pushing the price up.

But if you are a little creative and want to save some money, you could do what my client did. In the end, she decided to stage the home herself. She went shopping and bought a few key items – taking out the major expense of the sofa, which set her back $1,200, she spent around $1,500 in total on a range of different items of furniture and accessories.  

Home styling shopping list:

Coffee table$70
Dinner table$80
Dinner chairs$200
Paris pic$40
Doona cover$250
3x bed sheets$120
Pillows 2x$10
Stack tables$30
Balcony plants$100
Bathroom set$30
George Jensen bowl$35
Table runner$20
Bedside tables$300
Bedside lamps sets$75

The best part is, while she is going to take her new bedding and the sofa with her to her new home, she plans to re-sell everything else. Even if she only sells each item for 50% of what she paid, she will still reduce her out of pocket costs substantially.

Her total spend was $2,780. If she sells the bits and pieces she doesn’t need for around $600-800, her total outlay will be around $2,000.

The moral of the story: you don’t have to be out of pocket by thousands and thousands of dollars to stage your home!

Which areas of your home should you style?

If you’re working with a small budget, stick with the key areas that really “sell” your home: the kitchen, the bathrooms, any outdoor space, and the master bedroom. If you can get these spaces looking the best they possibly can, you’ll be more likely to have buyers seeing your property in its best possible light.

The benefits of staging your home are not only found in the fact that you can de-personalise the space and make it look like something out of a magazine, but you can also help potential buyers imagine themselves living in the space.

Brunch on the courtyard patio… The dining table set for six guests… comfy, bright cushions added to the outdoor furniture… a bathroom filled with candles and bath salts, ready for a relaxing break…

These are all small but effective ways you can style and stage your home so that a would-be buyer can really imagine the best ways to use and live in the space.

It all goes to show, with some creativity and a keen eye for a bargain, you can have your home looking fresh, clean and stylish – and ready for buyers to submit an offer!

This article contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation or needs before making any decisions based on this information. 

New research shows that in many suburbs across Australia, it may actually cost you less money to buy your home and pay a mortgage, rather than renting.

The research, released by Aussie Home Loans in conjunction with CoreLogic, reveals that many Aussies would actually be better off making home loan repayments than paying a landlord.

In fact, more than half of the country would be financially better off if they owned their home!

The Buy vs Rent Report has analysed suburbs across Australia where mortgage repayments are cheaper than rental payments, and it found that over half (52.2 per cent) of Australian suburbs would be cheaper for homeowners than for renters.

The research is based on:

But even those who prefer a variable interest rate may be better off.

Based on a variable home loan rate of 3.65%, the report found that 1 in 3 households (or 32.9%) would find it cheaper to pay down a mortgage than pay rent on a house.

These results are hardly surprising, given the fact that mortgages are currently the cheapest they’ve ever been. Interest rates are now at lows we’ve never witnessed – I’ve certainly never seen mortgage interest rates this cheap, and I began working in the industry 30 years ago.

The really interesting part to me is that these interest rates are also quite conservative. Since the last RBA rate cut, it’s now possible for us to find you a fixed-rate home loan with an interest rate beginning with a 1.

Even for those of you who prefer the flexibility of a variable rate loan, there are many rates on the market that are far more competitive that 3.65%.

In any event, this research is good news for you, as it means your dreams and aspirations of buying your first or next home may be closer than you think.

How close are you to buying your home?

For those who are interested in buying a home, there are a few things you need to know.

First of all, the good news: the requirements for saving a deposit for first homebuyers is now far lower than it has been in the past.

While many banks and lenders would prefer to see a 20% deposit, in the major capital cities at least, this is something of an unrealistic target.

The median property price in Sydney has been hovering around the $1m mark in recent years, which means a 20% deposit is worth around $200,000 – a figure that is far outside the average Aussie’s ability to save.

Enter the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS) – a program run by the government, which allows first-time buyers to buy a home with just a 5% deposit, without having to pay lenders mortgage insurance.

As long as you can provide evidence of at least 5% in genuine savings, many banks and lenders will consider your loan application.

Now, what does genuine savings mean? It could be comprised of:

If saving a 5% deposit isn’t quite achievable – or if you’re not a first-home buyer, so you can’t access the FHLDS – you may be able to buy a home if you’re parents are willing to offer a family guarantee. This essentially means they’re giving the bank some security over their own property, to help you get a loan for your property.

There are a number of other grants, schemes and incentives to help buyers get into the property market, including the First Home Owners Grant (FHOG); Home Builder, which provides owner-occupiers with a grant of $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing one; the First home super saver scheme, designed to help you save more money for your deposit; and there are also a number of first-home buyer discounts and concessions off your stamp duty.

These grants and schemes offer the chance to save tens of thousands of dollars off the purchase price of your home – and with interest rates this low, make the prospect of home ownership the most affordable it’s been in years.

This article contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation or needs before making any decisions based on this information. 

Since the Royal Commission into financial services ended, there’s been a change in the way that banks and lenders review your home loan applications.

The details of these changes are complicated – I’ll give you a simplified update in a moment. However, the end result has been brokers like me spending hours upon hours, reading through bank statements to make sure your UberEats, online shopping and AfterPay expenses are all accounted for in your “estimated expenses” list in your loan application.

You see, after the Royal Commission, laws were introduced that were designed to protect you. The government wanted to ensure that borrowers don’t end up biting off more than they can chew financially.

After all, the Royal Commission had revealed story after story of everyday Australians being ripped off or financially disadvantaged, due to banks’ and lenders’ lending money very freely.

When the government realised that many people were getting mortgages and debts that they couldn’t afford, the decision was made to make it harder – much harder – for people to get a loan. They did this by introducing strict and onerous rules and regulations around how a loan application is processed.

As you can imagine, with such a massive shift in the way that banks and lenders assessed loan applications, these changes have resulted in a number of people who would have previously been approved for finance, finding themselves unable to get a home loan.

So – what impact did restrictive lending laws have on property markets?

With fewer people able to borrow money and less access to finance, most people can’t move forward with a property purchase, so these restrictive lending laws did take some of the competition out of the property market.

Major capital city markets in Sydney and Melbourne were already starting to simmer down after a boom period of strong growth.

When these restrictive lending laws were introduced – together with other regulations, designed to make loans more expensive and hard to access for landlords – property markets slowed down.

In fact, we saw very minimal price growth (or even price falls) in many markets.

Wait – but these restrictive laws are set to change again?

That’s right! One thing these laws didn’t factor in was a forthcoming global pandemic. In an effort to keep the economy ticking over – because property transactions generate a huge amount of taxes and economy activity – the Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced that in March 2021, these laws will be wound back.

The goals is to make it easier for consumers to get a loan, once revised laws are passed.

If you’re considering buying a property – what does this mean?

If you have been locked out of the market and unable to access finance, this means you should have an easier time gaining loan approval.

For borrowers who are already able to access finance, this means you should consider acting sooner rather than later!

This is because in March next year, there’s going to be a big increase in the number of people who can afford to buy property.

When demand for property surges, and supply doesn’t meet the demand, then prices go up. So if you wait until next year to take action when you’re ready to buy now, you could find yourself competing against many more people.

I’m not a property expert, but I am an expert when it comes to finance. Whether you’re ready to start property shopping now or you think you’re still 12 months away, feel free to get in touch as my team and I can help you get “home loan ready”.

This is really important, because all of the banks and lenders have wildly different policies at the moment. I can have a borrower in front of me who would easily be approved by Bank A, but who would be rejected by Bank B – simply because their appetite for risk and their policies are different.

This is why my advice is to speak to a broker for tailored advice, if you wish to refinance or you are thinking of buying a home. We may be able to help you get into a loan that saves you a small percentage on interest, or we may be able to find a lender willing to approve your loan when your bank says no. As a broker we always act in your best interests and best of all, our service is free! The banks pay our commission, not you – so you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

This article contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs before making any decisions based on this information.

There are currently so many opportunities for renters to consider homeownership.

The governments various grants and the low interest-rate environment give renters the opportunity to enter the property market.

People are now making homeownership a higher priority and looking to buy to get out of the rental trap. This year has reinforced how important it is to have a place to call home.

Is homeownership your priority?

The pandemic has taught people that you don’t need to be as close to the city as you once thought – with work from home arrangements you may need to travel into the CBD less. It really makes places like the areas on Central Coast or Bowral highly desirable, as you have space, nature, bushland, and also a tight-knit community that look after each other.

The pandemic has proved how flexible work environments can be and how we can be physically distant but still connected. That opens up the possibility of movement away from the city and I think people are going to make the most of that. We are certainly seeing a lot of people wanting to get out of Sydney. We are also seeing a lot of people wanting to get out of apartments as they want more space working from home.

One thing is for sure the housing market is certainly busy.

This article contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs before making any decisions based on this information.

Everyone wants to pay less on their mortgage and refinancing is one strategy that can help lower your interest rates, but is it worth it? We take a look at how you can get the most out of refinancing.

Why refinance?

Generally, people refinance to negotiate a better deal on their home loan and pay it off sooner. Depending on your situation, you should be able to save money by taking advantage of lower rates or new products that were not available when you first negotiated your home loan.

To put this into perspective, let’s say you took out a $300,000 loan at 7.5% over 30 years with monthly repayments of $2,098. If you refinance to a new loan at 4% you could save $239,543 ($665 per month) over the life of the loan by making the minimum repayments of $1,432 per month.

Once you have refinanced, if you continue making the same minimum repayments as your previous loan ($2,098 per month) you will potentially save $346,912 and pay off your mortgage 165 months early.

Make it work for you

Take advantage of your refinance loan by:

When should you consider refinancing?

Life brings change and your mortgage needs to keep up – maybe now you have a partner, a young family, a new job that pays more or have become empty nesters with extra cash on your hands. If the terms of your current loan do not allow you to pay more (or less) on your principal amount, it could be worth considering refinancing into a more flexible arrangement.

Refinancing or loan switching can save money but you might incur costs such as exit and establishment fees, government charges and administrative or legal expenses. These costs need to be weighed against the benefits to determine if you will save in the long run.

Before you make any decisions, be clear on your reasons for refinancing. It is also a good idea to speak to an experienced mortgage broker or financial expert to ensure you are making the right move for your financial situation.

This article contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs before making any decisions based on this information.

Louisa J Sanghera is a credit representative (437236) of BLSSA Pty Ltd AC 117651760 (Australian Credit Licence No. 391237).