Minimising the interest you pay on your loan is a worthwhile goal, but there are some pitfalls to watch out for.

Offset accounts and redraw facilities can dramatically reduce the interest you pay on a home mortgage or investment loan and impact how quickly that debt is paid off. Offset and redraw facilities both allow you to make extra repayments against your loan, but offset accounts offer more flexibility for both home buyers and investors. For most borrowers, flexibility is a good thing, but for those who want to make lump sum repayments into their loan and don’t want easy or regular access to that money, a redraw facility could be suitable.

Which one is best for you?

A redraw account is part of your loan, while an offset account is separate from it. You can use the money sitting in your offset account much as you would any savings account. Accessing the money sitting in redraw, however, can take one or more business days and there may be restrictions on the amount you can withdraw and how often.

There’s another catch with redraw facilities, if you’re an investor claiming the interest on your loan as a tax deduction. If you withdraw funds that have been sitting in redraw and use them for a holiday or other purpose unrelated to investing, you will no longer be able to claim tax deductions for that portion of your loan.

Let’s look at an example. You’ve bought an investment property by taking out a $500,000 loan. At tax time, you can claim the interest on this loan as a deduction. An inheritance of $100,000 comes your way, so you put it in redraw, reducing your loan balance to $400,000. You later decide to use $70,000 of that money to buy a new car. The downside with redraw facilities is that you can only continue to claim interest on the $400,000 portion of the loan, even though your loan balance has gone up to $430,000.

If you had signed up for an offset account instead of redraw when you took out the loan, in the same scenario you’d still be able to claim interest as a tax deduction on the loan balance of $430,000.

More powerful tool

Matt Turner, managing broker at GSC Finance Solutions, says offset accounts are much more popular than redraw, particularly with investors, because making extra repayments and then later withdrawing them doesn’t affect the tax deductibility of the debt.

Turner recommends borrowers use an offset account rather than redraw, despite the probability of having to pay a fee for doing so and the possibility of a minor rate differential between loans that have an offset account attached and those that don’t.

“Having an offset account gives you full control,” he says. “Nine times out of 10, we’re setting a client up with the offset account, even with those initial costs, because the tool is that powerful.”

On a 30-year home loan of $600,000 with an interest rate of 6.5%, if your offset account has a starting balance of $20,000 and you make additional repayments of $100 a month, you’ll pay the loan off 3.5 years sooner and save $159,870 in interest. In the same scenario, but making $500 in additional payments, you would shave six years and seven months off your loan and save more than $300,000 in interest.

Getting the most out of your offset account can depend on your savings habits and self-discipline. Some borrowers direct their monthly pay straight into their offset account, live off their credit card and pay it off in full at the end of every month with the funds in their offset account. But this approach doesn’t work for all people.

“We find that can lead to some poor behaviours,” says Turner. “If you don’t pay it off in full in time, you’re saving 6% on the home loan but then spending 20% on the credit card.”

Instead, he recommends using the offset account as you would a savings account, putting every dollar you don’t need for life’s essentials into that account.

Are you needing some expert advice? Schedule a consultation or talk to us on 03 5201 7969 today.

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Navigating the world of home loan financing can be tough, especially when deciding between a mortgage broker and traditional banking institutions. But with a seasoned Geelong mortgage broker by your side, you can find tailored home loan solutions with ease.

Mortgage Broker vs Banks: A Strategic Comparison

Choosing a mortgage provider that’s right for you involves a significant investment of time and financial resources. When it comes to securing the best mortgage deal, you may consider seeking assistance from specialised home loan professionals like mortgage brokers or lenders found at your local bank. But the question is, which one is right for you?

Both a licensed mortgage broker and a bank lender play a role in guiding borrowers through the mortgage application process. They assess your financial situation and help complete and submit your mortgage application. However, there are notable differences in their responsibilities.

A bank lender works within a specific financial institution, such as a bank, credit union, or mortgage lender. They exclusively offer products and mortgage rates associated with their employing entity. Additionally, bank lenders often handle other loan products, like personal loans and credit cards.

When you explore home loan options at a bank, you need to determine if that bank suits your needs. This often involves creating a spreadsheet or list to compare rates, fees, and other essential aspects.

On the other hand, a mortgage broker acts on behalf of the borrower (you!). They search various lending companies to identify the most competitive rate and optimal home loan package available. After discussing your needs, mortgage brokers take care of the rest.

They reach out to their contacts at direct lenders and come back to you with options that fit your criteria. It's important to note that a mortgage broker typically specialises in home loans and is not authorised to deal with additional financial products like personal loans or credit cards.

What if You Choose to Apply For a Home Loan With a Bank

Opting to work directly with a bank when applying for a home loan may seem appealing to some. If you prefer direct interactions with bank lenders and desire complete control when applying for a new home loan, a bank could be the right choice for you.

Banks often offer incentives to existing customers who use multiple products like credit cards or checking accounts. Choosing your bank can lead to discounts on closing costs or waivers on origination fees, making the new home loan more cost-effective.

However, while working with a bank may simplify the process, there are potential pitfalls to consider. Banks only offer deals they can underwrite and may not always be equipped to handle complex situations that arise during the loan process. In such cases, the expertise and tailored solutions provided by a licensed mortgage broker become invaluable. Additionally, banks may have limited options compared to brokers, who can offer a wider range of loan products, interest rates and features from different lenders, potentially saving you money in the long run.

Understanding the Mortgage Broker Difference

A mortgage broker acts as an intermediary between you, a prospective borrower and banks or other lenders, and assists the borrower to apply for and secure a home loan. Since mortgage brokers are not aligned with any one lender, they can offer you a broader range of products from a variety of financial institutions. This offers you more choices and may enable you to discover a product or lender that you hadn't otherwise considered.

Moreso mortgage brokers have a legal obligation to act in your best interests when advising you to take out a loan. A mortgage provider works with borrowers to:

Furthermore, ​​encountering a "no" from any bank isn't the final word. Understanding that each bank operates on unique lending criteria, means that a rejection from one institution doesn't signify the end of your options. Enlisting the services of a licensed mortgage broker means that you have a diverse range of loan products at your fingertips, and together you can navigate the lending landscape and connect with a lender tailored to your needs.

At GSC Finance we work with more than 40 lenders and can get you started after just one phone call!

Armed with expert insights and unwavering dedication, GSC’s local mortgage brokers operate with a commitment to acting in your best interests, ensuring a transparent and well-informed decision-making process. When seeking the best mortgage broker near you, considerations such as industry tenure, specialised expertise in areas like best refinance home loans and best fixed-rate home loans, and a robust network of lenders are essential in establishing a fruitful partnership.

Empowering Your Financial Future with GSC Finance Solutions

Securing a home loan signifies more than a mere financial transaction; it’s an investment in your future and a pivotal step towards realising your dreams of homeownership. The team at GSC Finance Solutions stands ready to guide you through this transformative process with expert advice, unwavering support, and a steadfast commitment to your financial well-being. Whether you're a first home buyer seeking the best mortgage broker to sort your home loan or an experienced investor looking for an investment mortgage broker, you can rely on us.

If you’re ready to purchase your home? Schedule a consultation or talk to us on 03 5201 7969 today.

It’s not just about agreeing on a price when buying a property. The conditions of the offer are very important. They help protect both the buyer and the seller. Michael Sloan, from The Successful Investor, explains the finer points, so you don’t miss anything in the pressure of the moment.

Typical conditions of an offer

When negotiating with the seller, you’ll have the opportunity to make the offer subject to various conditions. So what are the common conditions you need to be aware of before making an offer on a house or property?

Why you should take care with the conditions

It’s important to use a solicitor or licensed conveyancer who understands offer conditions when buying a home. Making sure the offer is favourably worded could save you a lot of hassle in the future.

Don’t rely on the agent to write the offer conditions for you. They’re acting in the seller’s best interests, not yours. This is why it’s important to get independent legal advice before signing anything.

But remember, offers and conditions need to be kept as simple as possible for the seller. If they’re too complicated, the seller could reject your offer and you could miss out on the property.

Stay in control of your offer conditions

Many real estate agents expect the buyer to accept whatever wording they include in a contract of sale. They may make comments like ‘That’s a standard condition – you can’t change it’. They may threaten that you’ll lose the property unless you sign the paperwork. Don’t listen.

Take the contract to your own solicitor before signing. Get them to make changes to the conditions of sale if they’re not in your favour. If you’re determined to sign the contract before getting legal advice, make sure you show it to your solicitor during the cooling- off period.

Each Australian state and territory has different laws about the cooling-off period and the financial penalties you’ll incur if you pull out of a sale. Make sure you find this information out before you sign. The period always begins when you sign the contract of sale and not when the seller signs.

Contract cancellations need to be made in writing and within the set period either in person, or by email or fax.

As we mentioned, the standard contract conditions you’d include when you put an offer in include pest, building and finance. But none of these conditions apply at an auction. There’s also no cooling-off period. Still, there are few things you should do to protect yourself before bidding at an auction:

If you’re ready to purchase your home? Talk to us on 03 5201 7969 today.

Making an informed decision about change

If you’re thinking about changing your loan to match where you are in life, it’s really worth exploring more than one appealing option.

While a standard home loan term can last 30 years, you shouldn’t feel like you’re stuck with that particular loan. There’s a lot that can happen in the space of a few years – let alone 30. You might want to move. You might need a bigger (or smaller) house along the way. Our lives change, and your home loan can change with you.

It’s always a good idea to make sure your home loan suits the stage of life you’re at. It may not just be about the house itself – perhaps you want different features attached to your loan.

There are many options out there – but don’t be tempted to sign up to the first good deal you see. If you find a loan that’s mostly suitable, keep looking! You’ll find the right one, and the doing a little research upfront can save a lot of hassle.

Switching interest rate type

Home loans typically have two types of interest rates: fixed and variable. It’s usually quite easy to go from variable to fixed, but unfortunately, going the other way can prove costly.

Paying to end or start a loan

The Federal Government got rid of exit fees from 1 July, 2011—but this is only for contracts signed after this date. If you signed before then, you may pay exit fees for ending your loan early. Check with your lender if you’re unsure.

On the other hand, when you sign up for a new loan – especially if it’s with a new lender – you may have to pay start-up costs, like an application fee. This information is always available beforehand, so make sure you ask.

Another, sometimes expensive, cost involved in switching a loan is economic cost.

Economic cost

Having a fixed-rate home loan means you’ve agreed to an exact interest rate for a certain period. If you end your loan before this period ends, your lender may charge you economic cost—an estimate of their loss resulting from the change. Since your lender suffers loss when you break a loan term, it’s a cost you need to pay, so get a quote before doing anything (if you have a fixed-rate loan).

Choosing a loan term

If you have a loan where you can choose the term, it’s important to do your sums first. The shorter the loan term, the less interest you’ll pay—but your repayments will be higher. If you choose a longer term (say, 30 years) your repayments will be less but you’ll pay more interest.

Belinda and Pete

Belinda and Pete want to move from their one-bedroom inner-city apartment to a three-bedroom house in the suburbs. They don’t just want more space, they’re going to need it when bub arrives.

Together, they earn $120,000. Their monthly expenses are around $3,000. If they borrow $700k over 30 years at a rate of 5.88% pa, their monthly repayments will be $4,143. But if they halved their loan term to 15 years, they’d pay $5,862.

So, they pay more in the short term, but they won’t pay anywhere near as much as they would in the long run. These are things to consider while you’re looking for a new loan.

Interest only repayments

Australian Securities and Investments Commission has some useful information for customers interested in using an interest only repayment period as part of their loan term. Check out their MoneySmart guidance for some easy to follow infographics highlighting the pitfalls and benefits of this type of lending structure. You can also find examples of how much you may expect to pay for this type of loan structure.

We have a more detailed explanation and case study to help demonstrate the differences in this article interest only vs. principal and interest repayments

Doing it for the benefits

In addition to your loan, you might be thinking about getting a new credit card or an offset account attached to your loan. Think about how a travel company will put together an all-inclusive holiday package – most lenders can put together a cost-effective package to include all your banking products to make managing them even easier.

Call us on 03 5201 7969 about the packages on offer, and how easy it is to move your existing loan to one. It might be easier just switching to a new loan plus package deal.

There are other benefits that may encourage you to switch, like being able to redraw funds or a loan that lets you take a repayment holiday. Don’t forget to always weigh up these new benefits with the cost and effort involved in switching to a new loan.

There is a lot to think about when buying a home. The process can be both exciting and overwhelming. Identifying what you want in your dream property, understanding home loans and navigating your way through all the paperwork can be challenging. By becoming familiar with these steps and doing some preparation, you can reduce the stress involved in the buying process. You should seek expert advice when making a large financial decision to determine if it is right for you. Becoming a home owner gives you the ability to make your house into a home, and it gives you a valuable asset to build equity upon.

1. Set your budget

First, decide how much you can afford to spend – keeping in mind all the additional costs associated with buying a home. The largest of these is stamp duty or transfer duty, which varies by state and is generally charged as a percentage of the purchase price.

As an example, if you are a first home buyer buying a property in New South Wales for less than $650,000, you can apply for a full exemption. But if you are buying a property valued between $650,000 and $800,000, you may be eligible for a first home buyer partial stamp duty concession.

Various stamp duty concessions are available for first home buyers depending on the location and the type of property you buy.

In some cases, this cost may be partially offset by First Home Owner Grants (FHOGs) intended to encourage first home buyers to enter the property market. FHOGs also vary from state-tostate and apply mainly to new homes, rather than established properties.

2. Research the market

Once you’ve set your budget and chosen your ideal property, it is important to research the market in the area in which it is located. When you are considering a particular location, look at infrastructure and amenities such as public transport, educational facilities and shopping centres. Geographical factors should also be considered such as distance to the CBD and any infrastructure that will affect noise levels or the aspect of the property, such as substations or large electricity towers. 

Websites that can help with research include realestate.com.au and domain.com.au. You could also build a relationship with the local real estate agents in the area, so they can let you know of properties that are coming up before they are advertised. The local real estate agent will also have additional information on any properties of interest. If finding the right property is proving difficult, you might consider using a buyer’s agent who can do all the house hunting for you, will work to your budget and negotiate on your behalf. Unlike a real estate agent who works for the vendor/seller, a buyer’s agent works solely for the buyer.

3. Choose a home loan and get pre-approval

While searching for your dream home or investment property, it’s a good idea to get pre-approval for your loan from your lender, mortgage broker or one of the many emerging online options. Having pre-approval will mean you can move quickly when you find your dream home. You will need to provide employment details including income and expenses, assets and liabilities, and some personal details. Mortgage brokers may be able to offer you a range of loan products from various lenders, so they can be a good option for a first home buyer. Usually pre-approvals will be valid for 90 days, however this can vary from lender to lender. As with any financial decision, it’s wise to shop around for the best deal. One important consideration when deciding how much to borrow is the size of your deposit. Most banks and financial institutions generally require you to have a 20 per cent deposit. This means that on a property worth $720,000 you will need to have saved at least $144,000 – plus enough to cover stamp duty and any legal and moving costs.

There are other options available if you don’t have a 20 per cent deposit. Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) may enable you to buy a home with a deposit as low as five per cent. Rather than having to save a $144,000 deposit on a $720,000 property, your lender may be able to provide a loan with a deposit of $36,000. This means you can get into your own home sooner, begin paying off your loan and potentially start building equity. LMI is an insurance policy that protects the lender if you default on your loan. LMI is a one-off premium which the lender will pass on to you to pay. The premium can usually be added, or capitalised on to your loan, with your repayments adjusted accordingly. 

It’s a good idea to get pre-approval for your loan.

4. Inspect the property

Once you have found the home you want to purchase and before you make an offer, you will want to arrange the necessary inspections. You should consider a:

You should also consider checking with the local council and state government about zoning issues and future property developments that may affect your home.

Your solicitor or conveyancer can advise you further on any recommended inspections.

5. Make an offer and secure formal loan approval

Once the inspections have been completed and you are happy to proceed, it’s a good idea to contact your lender or broker to update them on the situation. The next step depends on whether the property is being sold at auction or by private treaty, which is a sale directly through a real estate agent or owner.

Private treaty – All your research will assist you when negotiating the purchase price, however you probably don’t want to be too inflexible. It would be unfortunate to lose the property to someone else for an amount that you would have been happy to pay.

Once your offer has been accepted, a holding deposit of approximately 0.25 per cent needs to be paid. There will be a length of time known as the ‘cooling off period’, which is a set number of business days that is specified in the contract within which you can walk away from the agreement to purchase the property. Typically, the cooling off period will be five to ten business days, although the availability and duration of these periods vary by state. You may also be asked to waive your right to a cooling off period, which is often also the case under auction purchase conditions. If you decide not to proceed, you will typically have to pay the vendor a termination fee, which is usually around 0.25 per cent of the purchase price. Any holding deposit you have paid above this is typically refunded. If the cooling off period has expired, you will generally not be entitled to any refund of the holding deposit.

Auction – If you are buying at auction, be sure to have a pre-approval in place, and that all of the legal work and inspections have been completed prior to the auction. If your bid is successful you are obliged to go through with the purchase as there is no cooling off period. So, make sure you really want the property before you start bidding and, most importantly, that you don’t exceed your maximum spending limit.

Speak to your solicitor regarding the amount of the contract deposit required to be paid when contracts are exchanged. This can often be reduced to five per cent, instead of the typical ten per cent however needs to be agreed with the vendor or their solicitor prior to auction.

There are a number of things to consider when it comes to finalising the details of your home loan. One important decision is whether you choose a variable interest rate loan, where the interest charges and your regular repayments may go up and down, or a fixed rate loan which locks in your interest charges and regular repayments for a set period of time. Both types of loans have their pros and cons and some borrowers hedge their bets by choosing a combination of fixed and variable rate loans. It’s a good idea to discuss your personal circumstances with your lender, broker or financial adviser to ensure that the loan is configured in a way that best suits your needs.

Don’t forget to ask about any additional benefits – most lenders will provide home loan customers with extras such a fee-free transaction account.

LMI may enable you to purchase a home with a deposit as small as five percent.

6. Arrange the contract deposit

If you are paying the contract deposit from your own funds, you can generally use a personal cheque or a bank cheque. If part of the contract deposit is coming from your home loan (e.g. your lender is using LMI and you have less than the ten per cent contract deposit usually required when contracts are signed), you may need to use a deposit guarantee (sometimes called a deposit bond). This is a substitute for the cash contract deposit and is a guarantee issued by an insurance company to pay the contract deposit to the vendor should you default under the terms of the contract or fail to proceed with the purchase. Deposit guarantees can be organised at the same time as your home loan so speak to your lender or broker who will help you to arrange this.

7. Contracts and legal work

Do your research and speak to several real estate agents to find a reputable conveyancer or solicitor that meets your needs.

Your, and the vendor’s conveyancer or solicitor, will check the documentation and begin to draw up the contract for the property transfer. Ask your solicitor or conveyancer to explain the contract so that you understand its contents before signing.

DIY conveyancing kits are available, but most people leave it to the experts and use a solicitor or a conveyancer to do the work for them as there is a lot at risk. Conveyancers will have completed hundreds of property transactions and know the hidden traps to watch out for, like finding out that someone has planning permission to build a ten storey office block next door!

The contract will contain a settlement period which is the length of time before you take legal ownership of the property. This can be negotiated but will need to be agreed to by the vendor before the auction or signing contracts. Many lenders will require home insurance to be taken out from the time contracts are signed. Even if your lender doesn’t require it, it can be a good idea to take out home insurance at this time to help safeguard your interest in the property.

Once all questions have been answered, your conveyancer or solicitor will usually set a date and time for you and the vendor to sign contracts and to pay your contract deposit. The contract deposit is usually placed into a trust account held by the real estate agent until settlement.

8. Settlement

Settlement is usually four to six weeks from when contracts are exchanged. This is the date you take legal ownership of your new home.

Your solicitor or conveyancer will arrange a time and place for settlement to occur with the vendor’s solicitor and any other interested parties, such as your lender. The balance of the purchase price will need to be paid on the day of settlement. Your solicitor or conveyancer will arrange this with your lender who will take the balance of funds to settlement. Generally, the contract of sale will require the vendor to deliver the property to you in the same condition it was in on the day of sale, except for fair wear and tear. It’s a good idea to ensure your contract allows you to conduct a final inspection just before settlement. You can arrange this inspection with the real estate agent. If anything is not working or has been damaged, discuss it with the real estate agent and your solicitor or conveyancer prior to settlement.

Once settlement has occurred, the vendor’s solicitors will contact the real estate agent who sold you the property and advise them to give you the keys. Your solicitor or conveyancer will also contact you and confirm settlement has taken place.

You are then the home owner of the property and can enjoy your new home.

If you’d like to find out more about the steps to purchasing a property, call us on 03 5201 7969.