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.

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. …

Timing the market: how the cycles affect your portfolio

Having a thorough understanding of the real estate cycle enables you to time your move accurately and maximize your returns.

Most real estate investors face many challenges in building a profitable real estate portfolio. Determining whether to purchase or liquidate, raise or lower rents, or deciding which sector of real estate to participate in can be determined more easily and profitably by understanding the real estate cycle and the important attributes of its behavior.

It is tough to be at the beginning of a trend. People tend to follow the crowd (or the media) and consequently buy yesterday’s deals. It is much easier to profit when you are buying at the beginning or even in the middle of a cycle. If you can accurately time a rising market, you can benefit from higher rental income due to higher occupancy which results in upward pressure on property values and conversely liquidate when the opposite is evident.

Fortunately for real estate investors, the movements of real estate prices are slower and more predictable than the stock market due to the slow response to promising or discouraging economic movement.  The real estate cycle displays different characteristics based on whether the property is a free-standing house, a high density unit or a commercial property. Property values in office buildings are generally more susceptible to swings in a cycle than industrial buildings, retail buildings, apartment buildings and residential.

Demand drives each of these sectors. In the case of office buildings, the demand for office space is tied in directly to employment and the financial sector. Demand for industrial space is powered by manufacturing, transportation and the need for warehouse space.  Demand for retail space and apartment units is stimulated by population and growth of income.

All cycles are local

The real estate cycle can vary significantly from city to city and even down to suburb, compared to aggregate national statistics. A local real estate cycle can react differently based on economic demand for housing and can have longer or shorter peaks or troughs than the national cycle and nationally reported statistics.

It is important to understand the local real estate cycle wherever you decide to invest in order to make decisions that will be profitable. Being able to predict what will be happening in your local market based on specific key indicators will allow you to analyze expected returns, forecast property income and potential value increases or decreases. This can also aid in buy or sell triggers in your portfolio based on over or undersupply in the market.

Stages of the real estate cycle

There are typically four stages to each real estate cycle. In order to properly analyse, you need local data describing historic appreciation or depreciation which ultimately boils down to supply and demand.  For instance, demand for office space increases as a result of higher employment which in turn stimulates retail and residential demand. Conversely, demand for office space decreases as the value of market rents goes up. This factor spills over to retail and residential.

One must be aware of other indicators that are prevalent in each of the four stages of “top”, “down”, “bottom” and “up” of the cycle, specifically pertaining to residential properties.

1. Top of the market

Many Australian metropolitan cities today have been touted as being at the bottom of their market whereas others are on their way back up, some are booming and yet others remain stagnant. Historically cycles last from seven to 10 years, which allows us to learn from the past and better prepare for what and when our next move should be.

There are key indicators that are indicative of any real estate cycle. At the top of a market, prices are high. This sounds like an obvious statement, but what contributes to factors driving prices up?

Typically when there is high demand, the price goes up. This is usually triggered by employment opportunities, an enticing lifestyle or a retirement destination.

To properly analyse a residential market, you need to know the if the number of sales are increasing month to month, the number of days on the market it takes for a property to sell, if multiple offers on properties are becoming common – this drives property prices up even higher.

Other indicators can be observed just by driving around observing the construction industry. If stock is low and demand is high, people are generally very optimistic.

Vacancy rates will be lower so there will be less “For Rent” signs evident.

Your game plan

  1. If you can raise your rents, now is definitely the time.  Renew leases. With low vacancy and high migration to the area, there is high demand for properties. However, if interest rates are low, renters may be jumping into new homes.
  2. Once over-building is evident, you may consider liquidating one or more of your properties, particularly any underperforming properties, which may sell for a great price.
  3. Buy-reno-sell strategies can work well at the beginning of this phase provided the property is acquired under fair market value.
  4. You may consider selling later in this cycle.

2. A down market

A downward trending market happens after the top of a cycle. This move can be subtle at first. Many inexperienced investors can “get caught” during this shift, resulting in potential losses.

This can result from maintaining a selling price higher than the market will bear rather than anticipating the downward trend and unloading the property with good pricing or speculating in preconstruction.

A downward trending market occurs when new construction exceeds demand and/or prices hit maximum affordability. Once this happens, prices begin leveling off, demand slows down, and public optimism becomes uncertain.

When a market has too much inventory, sales decrease, ultimately triggering the amount of listings to increase.  This causes the average “days on the market” (DOM) of each property to increase, naturally triggering a downward pressure in prices. The market ultimately dictates when the decline will stop and what prices are reasonable.

Vacancy rates begin increasing as tenants have more choice of units and landlords begin offering discounted rents or move in specials.

Your game plan

  1. If you missed selling at the top of the market, sell fast and don’t hold out for top dollar.
  2. You may need to decrease rents or offer incentives to attract or keep tenants.
  3. Many landlords will have higher vacancies and may be highly negotiable on price (wait until later in the cycle).
  4. If you don’t sell now, hold your existing properties until the market corrects.

3. The bottom

At the bottom of a market, general public perception of the economic outlook is negative. Higher unemployment prevails and the banks’ lending criteria becomes more stringent. Prices tend to decline and it is not until prices ultimately begin to increase and vacancies begin to decrease that you will know where the bottom is (or was). Foreclosures or power of sales become more frequent and economic pessimism prevails as demand continues to slow.

New construction during this time drops. However, new builds already underway still come on line. Many contractors either become renovators or get out of the business.

Your game plan

  1. Take buying slowly but start buying distressed properties later in the cycle.
  2. Holding and waiting for the “up market” indicators if you are looking to ultimately sell.
  3. Provide furnished rentals to keep your unit rents up.
  4. Approach builders who have unsold inventory and purchase one, several or all of their unsold inventory at a discount or with a purchase option.

4. The Up Market

During this time falling housing prices have bottomed out and are stabilizing and demand is slow. New inventory is down as new construction is almost at a standstill. However, as the cycle continues and demand becomes more evident, new construction begins as does pre- construction speculation.

In an “up” market prices will begin to increase based on stimulation of the local economy, thus increasing demand. With less property available, there are less listings, the days on market decrease and multiple offers on property become prevalent.

From a rental perspective, this creates a diminishing supply of units, which triggers lower vacancy and higher rents.

Your game plan

  1. Buy for bargain prices from other investors who still haven’t realised a new cycle has begun.
  2. Increase rents.
  3. Buy, reno and sell.
  4. Refinance existing properties to buy more.
  5. Sell if you can move the equity into a more valuable property.

The public is usually driven by the media who are usually trailing the middle or even the end of a wave. This gives those who are studying the key market indicators a distinct advantage. However, acting when no one else has acted takes knowledge, courage and sometimes trusting your gut.

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

Having a thorough understanding of the real estate cycle enables you to time your move accurately and maximize your returns. Most real estate investors face many challenges in building a profitable real estate portfolio. Determining whether to purchase or liquidate, raise or lower rents, or deciding which sector of real estate to participate in can…

Unleash your Equity!

Unless you’re thinking of selling your home, chances are, you don’t know what it’s worth any more.

If you purchased your home a while ago, you’ve probably built up some equity – either by repaying some of your loan, an increase in the value of your property, or a combination of both.

You may be able to use this increased level of equity for a variety of purposes. In today’s market, many home owners are using the equity in their homes to either renovate or fund the deposit on an investment property.

The good thing about equity is you aren’t limited to using it in the property market. If you always wanted a boat or a pool, you need a new car, or maybe you’d just like to take a holiday, you can use the equity in your home.

A loan that helps you tap into your equity can make a big difference to your future plans. To discuss your equity options, or the loan that is in your best interest, contact me today by phone 0434 087 735 or email [email protected]

We can even provide you with a comprehensive property report to give you a better understanding as to the current value of your home or investment property – to request a report for a low fee of $60 click here [email protected]

Self-Employed Borrowers

As a business owner, do you often find it difficult securing a home loan just to buy a home, let alone for investment purposes?

Good news! Home loans needn’t be hard work just because you’re self-employed, even if you are unable to provide the financial documentation required to support a traditional loan application.

At Sherlock Holmes Lending Solutions we have access to a range of lenders and home loans, including special products which may make the loan process much easier for you.

And we’re not just talking about home loans. We can help you with:

  • Investment loans
  • Car Loans
  • Asset Finance
  • Commercial Loans
  • Refinancing
  • Debt consolidation

To discuss your home and investment finance options, or to find the home loan that is in your best interest, contact me today on [email protected]

Unless you’re thinking of selling your home, chances are, you don’t know what it’s worth any more. If you purchased your home a while ago, you’ve probably built up some equity – either by repaying some of your loan, an increase in the value of your property, or a combination of both. You may be…