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Demystifying mortgages – 12 myths about lending every first home buyer should know.

Myth #1
You need at least 20% deposit to get a mortgage         
In today’s market that is not necessarily true.  While it is correct that having a deposit is the ideal situation, if you are currently renting and just cannot save enough for a deposit there are many lenders that offer low deposit home loans.  Borrowers can often borrow up to 95% of the purchase price which is a tempting offer for any first time home buyer wishing to get into the property market. A low deposit home loan may often attract higher interest rates or more stringent policy restrictions but if you are confident you can afford the repayments then you can achieve the dream of owning your first home with a minimal deposit.

Myth #2
Fixing your rate is safer than a variable rate
When interest rates are high, many are tempted to fix their rate to protect against further hikes.  All is well with the world and as a borrower, you feel incredibly happy that you are not affected by the next huge rate increase.  The problem here is that if rates fall, you end up paying a higher interest rate compared to the variable rate.  Fixed rate home loans do offer some security in an uncertain market, and also allow borrowers to know exactly what their mortgage repayments will be for the next one, three or seven years. Everyone is different and has varying financial requirements so talking through your options with a mortgage broker is recommended.

Myth #3
A bad credit history means you won’t get a home loan
Let’s get one thing clear.  A bad credit history is not good.  Any missed or default payments on credit cards or mobile phones are recorded.  Even if the amount was small or years ago, it affects your credit rating.  However, not all is lost.  Lenders will consult your credit history and feed this into their own credit scoring system.  If it turns out there are issues, the lender may take a closer look and may still approve a home loan if you meet the requirements.  Similarly, non-conforming lenders provide an alternative option for borrowers who have been refused finance by traditional lenders.  Non conforming lenders are an ever expanding avenue and offer in many cases quite competitive products providing opportunities which were once deemed impossible.

Myth #4
I can still get a home loan even though no income, because I have several assets
Yes, you may have a collection of stamps from the 1920’s to be proud of, but it’s not going to convince a bank to lend you $400,000.  Assets aren’t the same as income, and it’s your regular income that lenders get excited about.  Lenders will only lend as much as people can afford to repay, and a first time home loan is a big commitment. The amount of income earning capacity you have will ultimately determine how much you are able to borrow.

Myth #5
Get the lowest rate possible
Be cautious with low interest rates.  A cheap rate is attractive, especially to first home buyers, but take note because these low rates often come with less features on the home loan, reduced flexibility and higher fees. They may only be an introductory rate and once that honeymoon period is over you could find yourself paying a much higher rate.  Often a loan with a slightly higher rate but more features will save you money over the life of the loan.

Myth #6
Credit cards are okay if I pay them off.
When it comes to credit cards it’s not all about the balance on your card, or cards, it’s the total available credit that counts. Having a large range of credit does not necessarily equate to a good credit history.  Often it’s the credit card limit, not the balance that counts.  So even if you pay off all your credit card debts, if you still have a high limit this can affect your servicing and chances of approval.

Myth #7
I can roll my personal debts into my mortgage
So you have a car loan and credit card debts, and you want to roll all of these into your home loan?  Makes sense, as the interest rate on your mortgage will be lower than your current rate.  But, first home buyers are not usually able to just throw all their debts together like this.  Usually you have to build up equity in the property and then use this equity to service the additional debt.

Myth #8
A low-deposit home loan means you don’t need any savings.
This one is most certainly not true.  First home buyers get excited and tend to think that a 95% per cent loan means that they do not have to pay much money upfront.  But, a 95 per cent home loan only covers most of the cost of the property, and not all the purchase costs such as stamp duty, legal fees, property inspection fees and lenders mortgage insurance (LMI).  You will still need some savings to cover these costs as well as the 5% deposit.

Myth #9
Start by paying just the minimum amount
Many first home owners pay only the minimum monthly repayment, as they adjust to the new financial commitment.  However, at the start of the loan you are really only paying interest so by paying more than the minimum, you quickly reduce the amount of interest and principle on the loan.  As interest is calculated daily, repaying twice a month instead of once per month can also save you thousands in interest.

Myth #10
Mortgage insurance protects the borrower
Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) protects the lender, not the borrower.  Borrowers who can put down a 20% deposit should not need to pay LMI but borrowers with any less than this will pay LMI to the lender.  The less deposit you have, the higher the premium.

Myth #11
Offset accounts save you money
Home loan offset accounts are a great idea, but only for those borrowers who are responsible with their money and have a regular income. If you have a shoe addiction or tend to buy all your mates extra rounds at the pub, you may want to think twice about offset accounts.  Your income goes straight into your home loan account, pays your mortgage repayment and then you can use the extra funds for other expenses.  However, if you have bad spending habits you could end up spending more.  Be careful not to end up in negative equity because you didn’t monitor your spending.

Myth #12
Refinancing saves you money
Perhaps you have just bought your first home, and you are enjoying all the benefits of your own home.  Your first time mortgage is going well, but perhaps you fixed your rate six months ago and now rates are coming down, or maybe you want to switch to a different lender.  Refinancing sometimes costs money. In the way of exit fees for existing home loans, and settlement fees for the new loan.  However, the market is quite competitive currently and some lenders are giving all the power to the home owner.  Shopping around and refinancing your home loan can save you thousands over the life of you loan, but can also end up costing you more, so talk your possible choices through with a mortgage broker before making your decision.

Author: Melanie Burns

To discuss this article or anything to do with your finances, please call our office today on 0434 087 735 or email us and we will be happy to assist you.

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