Let’s face it: nothing dims that ‘owning-a-home’ glow faster than realising how much interest you could pay over the life of your loan.
After some soul searching, you may ask yourself:
‘How can I pay as little interest as I can on my loan repayments?’
With so many home loan options available in the market, it can be challenging to know which will best suit your budget.
To help you make a more informed decision, meet…
… the split rate home loan.
AKA ‘the mullet of the home loan world’, thanks to its financial stability and spontaneity.
Let’s get to know the split rate home loan and put it to the test. This way, you can understand how this loan feature could help you weather interest rate peaks and troughs.
A split rate home loan lets you chop your mortgage into both fixed and variable interest rate portions. These portions typically will fall into two loan accounts with different rates and fees. Once the fixed interest period ends, that portion of the loan reverts to a variable rate.
If you don’t split your home loan, you can either:
For the fixed portion of your loan, you’ll know what your weekly, fortnightly or monthly repayments will cost you. Such certainty is helpful when it comes to budgeting – especially if you’re a first home buyer and navigating repaying a substantial debt for an extended period.
If you’re savvy and lock in a relatively low-interest rate, you can benefit from paying less on the fixed portion of your mortgage if rates go back up.
If you have a split account and interest rates fall, you might pay less interest on your variable portion than on your fixed portion. Your fixed interest rates would remain unchanged, which means they could be higher than the drop.
With a split rate home loan, you could make extra repayments on the variable portion of your loan, usually at no additional cost. As such, you could pay back the variable portion of your loan faster and – in doing so – pay less interest overall.
You typically wouldn’t have the freedom to do this on the fixed portion of your loan. If your lender lets you make extra repayments on your fixed portion, repayments will likely be limited to a certain threshold.
How much of your home loan you decide to cut into fixed and variable is really up to how risk-averse you are.
If you’re concerned about your ability to financially cope with increased interest rates, you might, for example, decide to fix 60% of your loan into one interest rate. The remaining 40% can change depending on what the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and your lender decides to do.
If interest rates do drop below your fixed rate, you won’t benefit from these market changes on this portion of your loan.
This is where you’re ‘hedging your bets’ when you split a loan: if rates drop, you might still benefit from these changes, thanks to the variable portion of your loan. How much you benefit, though, depends on how much of the rate cut your lender passes onto you.
And, the exact opposite also applies! If interest rates go up, you could pay hundreds more in interest on the variable portion of your loan (depending on how much is left owing).
If you decide to sell your property, refinance, or you pay off your loan early, you’ll need to pay your current lender a break fee for the fixed portion of your loan.
Break costs may also apply if you pay extra on the loan that exceeds the threshold the bank may apply to fixed loans.
For all loan types, you may need to pay a discharge fee if you want to refinance or pay off your loan early. You pay this fee for your current bank to have their interest removed from your property’s title.
As these fees can be expensive, we recommend you ask your lender how much it could cost you to refinance or pay off early.
As you’ll essentially be taking out two loans, you may attract two lots of account-keeping fees for each loan type.
The first step in applying for a split home loan is to compare your options, whether you’re a first home buyer or are refinancing.
By comparing interest rates, fees and loan features, you can make a more informed decision about one of your biggest investments.
Our handy comparison tool makes it possible for you to easily compare a range of loans from some of Australia’s major lenders. On the one page, you can see how the loans on our panel stack up against your needs and financial goals.
All you need to do is enter a few details into our service, including:
Once you enquire on a loan that looks good to you, one of our trusted brokers will contact you to chat through the next steps; they’ll also talk you through your options if you want to split your loan.
What’s more, our brokers will take on the heavy lifting that comes with taking out a loan by liaising with the lender until settlement.
Like with other loan types, a guarantor can help you apply for a split rate home loan. This option might be helpful if you’re a first-home buyer, as a guarantor (usually an immediate family member, like a parent), uses their home’s equity* to help you secure your loan if you have a small deposit.
Like with any big financial decision, both yourself and your guarantor must be aware of the risks that come with taking out a loan before signing on the dotted line.
*Equity is the difference between the value of the property and how much is still owing to the lender. The more that has been paid off on the loan, the more the equity increases if the home’s value also increases. You can use equity to borrow more money for renovations or purchasing another property, for example.
Depending on interest rates and your financial circumstances, a split loan may help you pay off your mortgage faster compared to a fully fixed or fully variable home loan.
For instance, with a split loan, you can make extra repayments on your variable portion without penalty from your lender. On the flip side, you may lock in a low-interest rate for a few years with a fixed loan. In doing so, you will pay more on the principal of your home loan (the amount borrowed) than on interest.
Furthermore, if you secure an offset account with your split rate home loan, you may pay less money on interest and more on your principal.
An offset account works just like a savings account. Any money you place into this account is treated as a payment towards your loan in addition to your usual repayments. As such, the more you have in your offset account, the less you’ll need to pay on interest.
Yes, you can take out a split loan for an investment property. Keep in mind, though, that lenders treat investment home loans differently to standard loans, as these loans can feature tighter lending conditions.
For example, you’ll need to submit a larger deposit for your loan than you would for an average owner-occupier loan. Also, you may notice that investment loans have higher interest rates than standard owner-occupier loans.
Before taking out any loan, it’s important you talk to a either your lender or a broker. When you enquire about any of the investment home loans featured on our service, one of our trusted brokers will contact you to talk you through the next steps.