1.50% offinvestment interest ratesThere are around 21,000 new businesses founded each year in Australia. And with a little over 2 million actively trading businesses country-wide in June 2014, there are plenty of good reasons to run your own small business.

We often get approached by self-employed clients and prospects enquiring about their home loan opportunities. And whilst many banks have tightened their credit policies when it comes to the self-employed, with the right help, there are still plenty of options available.

What are some things you need to consider as a self-employed borrower?

Know your numbers
Your self-employed status does not have to impact negatively on your borrowing potential, although the amount of information you can supply will ultimately decide which products are available to you.

Lenders calculate how much they are willing to lend using a combination of your credit score, salary (income) records, and their affordability calculations. If you are self-employed, your overall income and financial situation may be more complicated, so it is important to establish a solid track record of low expenses and high income.

Build a good record
Requirements vary depending on the lender but, generally, self-employed borrowers will need both to have been in business and to have held an ABN for at least two years.

On top of the usual loan application documentation, lenders may also require you to produce BAS statements, tax returns, bank accounts and perhaps a declaration from your accountant. Being concise and providing correct and accurate information to the lender will increase your chances of a positive outcome.

Do your taxes and reduce debt
Keep your taxes up to date so you can always show your most recent income history. And make sure the tax assessments are paid. Self-employed applicants are more likely to have their tax portals checked for anything outstanding.

It’s also a good idea to eliminate or reduce your other (personal) debt. Lenders don’t just look at the balance, even if its zero – they count the limits on your credit cards and assess them as risk or funds you owe!

Understand your options
The good news is that lenders do have loans for self-employed people, contractors and business owners. In theory, self-employed borrowers have access to exactly the same range of mortgage products as everyone else, so long as you are able to put down the necessary deposit and substantiate your income you have a good chance of getting an advantageous rate.

One option to consider is a Low Documentation (Low Doc) Home Loan. These are designed for self-employed customers and small business owners who may not have access to the financial statements and tax returns usually required when applying for a home loan.

‘’Low doc’’ simply means alternative forms of income confirmation (bank statements, financial statements etc) as opposed to PAYG slips and tax returns. With tax returns, we can also help you pursue a full documentation loan at standard rates.

Have a strategy
We recommend you consult with us, your mortgage broker, to formulate a plan for securing your loan well before buying your property. This allows you to build your serviceability based on expert advice and years of experience.

If you are self-employed, or know someone who is, and would like to learn more about your options, please get in touch with us on the details below.

We hope you are out and about looking at properties in the fantastic spring weather! Yes, the busy spring property season is well underway – and there’s plenty of great housing stock available. If you’re in the market to buy right now, the good news is that APRA’s recent tightening of controls on investment lending seems to be having a positive effect on home price rises!

At its October meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the official cash rate on hold at the record low rate of 2.0 per cent for the fifth month in a row. Market analysts are undecided about the RBA’s next rate move, with some predicting a further rate cut in 2015 and others speculating that there will be no more rate changes until late 2016 – both of which mean, of course, that buying conditions will remain good for quite some time for first home buyers, refinancers and property investors alike!

APRA’s new controls have had some effect on interest rates, both for Owner Occupier loans and Property Investment loans. If you’re in the market to buy your first home, upgrade or refinance, you can now access some of the lowest interest rates ever on record as lenders continue to adjust rates downwards to encourage business growth in this area. For property investors, some home loan interest rates have risen slightly, but still remain excellent value and easily accessible to those with an adequate deposit and good financials.

Auction numbers were down recently, because of various public holidays and major sporting events. Additionally, with market conditions starting to favour buyers a bit more, private treaty sales are becoming more popular and are reducing auction numbers in some states. Buyers are definitely out and about, however competition at auctions is not as fierce as it was during the autumn selling season – which was unusually busy because of very high interest from investors, particularly Chinese investors.

The table below shows the relevant auction numbers for each state and corresponding clearance rates, for the week ending Sunday 4 October 2015:

StateNumber of auctionsClearance rate
Victoria9068%
New South Wales56771%
Queensland11864%
South Australia3271%
Western Australia1075%
Northern Territory433%
ACT2054%
Tasmania450%

As mentioned earlier, there has recently been indications that home value growth is starting to slow down – which will come as a big relief if you are in the market to buy a property, particularly in Sydney. In most markets, home value price movements were very marginal this month, with only Melbourne showing a significant increase of 2.42% over last month and 14.22% over the last year.

Sydney showed a marked change in home value price growth, only increasing by a very marginal 0.06% this month, but still showing a rise of 16.72% over last year. Brisbane/Gold Coast home values rose by 0.83% last month and 4.88% over the previous year. Adelaide home values went down by 1.17% last month and 0.30% over last year. Perth was up by 0.50% last month but is still showing a fall in home values of 0.90% over the same time last year. Darwin is also showing declines in home values – down by 0.31% this month and 3.92% since last year. Hobart’s home values fell by 1.93% last month and 0.59% since last year. On the bright side, the Canberra market is starting to pick up again, showing a 1.00% increase over last month and a 0.59% increase since this time last year.

With interest rates on the move and becoming more competitive, now is a great time to talk with us about a home loan health check to ensure you’re getting a competitive rate in today’s environment. We’re also very pleased to offer our assistance to those of you looking to build wealth for the future by investing in property. Remember, we’re here to help you with your financing needs according to your personal financial circumstances and goals, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call for a chat today.

The information provided in this newsletter is general in nature and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information you should consider the appropriateness of the information with regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. Information sources: Auction results: www.realestate.com.au. Home values:www.corelogic.com.au

Sincerely , Element Finance

Over the past few months, there has been a lot of chatter in the media about APRA tightening controls on lending for investment property purchases. And as property investment is one of Australia’s most popular ways to build wealth for the future, it has understandably raised a lot of questions from our clients about how this will change the game for those currently looking to invest. But what is APRA actually doing and why? How will it affect your capacity to get an investment property loan if you’re looking to buy this spring?

What is APRA? 
First of all, we should explain APRA and the role it plays in the finance industry. APRA is the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority and it acts as Australia’s finance industry watchdog. Their role is to regulate the behaviour of lenders, banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance companies, private health insurance agencies and the superannuation industry. Their mission is to establish and enforce standards and practices to ensure that our financial industry remains stable, efficient and competitive.

APRA is concerned that the property market is becoming overheated, particularly in Sydney. This follows home price growth of over 18% in the Sydney market over the past year. APRA is concerned that an overheated market may be subject to rapid price adjustments and this could not only destabilize our entire financial industry, but prove to be extremely risky for the average residential property owner or investor.

What restrictions has APRA imposed?
APRA is primarily concerned about the rate at which the big four banks have been issuing property investment loans. In order to cut it back, they have done two things:

  • Increased the capital reserves the big banks are required to hold for their exposure to residential property mortgages; and
  • Enforced their requirement that the bank’s investment lending does not grow by more than 10% annually.

The result is that the big four banks have raised interest rates on property investment loans. They have also tightened their lending criteria, so that property investors may now require a larger deposit and must be in a financial position to meet their repayments in the event of significant interest rate rises in future. They are also discouraging interest only property investment loans as these are considered more risky in a property market that may be subject to rapid declines in home values.

How will this affect you if you’re looking to invest now?
First of all, let’s look at interest rates on property investment loans. While it’s true that some banks have raised interest rates on property investment loans, these rate rises only represent a 20 – 50 basis point rise, meaning that the increased interest rate on property investment loans is only a half a percent or so higher on average than most owner-occupier loans. When you take into consideration that interest rates were down to all-time historical lows anyway, this will not prove to be much of a deterrent to those of you looking to invest in property this spring.

Additionally, not all of the lenders are at risk of exceeding APRA’s requirement that investment lending does not grow by more than 10% annually. This means that many of the smaller lenders have not raised their interest rates on property investment loans very much – in fact, some of them have not raised their rates at all.

This is where it really pays to have a good mortgage broker on your team. If you are planning to purchase an investment property this spring then talk to us and we will shop around to find you the most advantageous rate!

What about the tighter lending criteria – how will this affect you?
If you are about to purchase an investment property, then the bank’s tightening of lending criteria may have some effect. It is likely that the amount you can borrow has recently been reduced by 10-15% for the same level of income. Additionally, the big four banks will most likely require a 20% deposit, whereas in the past they would have accepted 10%. (Some smaller lenders are still approving investment property loans with a 10% deposit, so if necessary ask us to shop around.)

The result is that your purchasing power may be reduced and if you want to invest this spring, you may have to look at purchasing a less expensive property. For most property investors, this will prove to be only a minor stumbling block – after all a 15% reduction in your buying power isn’t very much. You may have to work a little bit harder to find a suitable investment, but at the end of the day you will most likely be able to find something that suits your budget.

Good advice is now more valuable than ever
The fact is, it’s more important than ever to be able to get good advice about your loan structuring and a mortgage broker who is able to shop around amongst a wider variety of lenders to get you the best rate the market has to offer.

We’re happy to say that’s our job! Since the APRA restrictions have come into play, we have been able to help several clients find great financing options for their investment property purchases and lower rates for those looking to refinance. We’re confident that we can help you too. If you’re in the market to purchase a property this spring, then give us a call. We’re here to help.

Spring is finally here. But if you’re anything like us, you can’t wait for summer to arrive so that you can hit the beaches with family and friends for some swimming, surfing, boating and even sailing! To give you a taste of what’s in store, we’ll refresh your memory about some of Australia’s favourite beaches so you can start planning your escape!

Byron Bay, NSW
One of the most truly amazing beach destinations in NSW would have to be Byron Bay. It was once an undiscovered hippy community but these days, has blossomed into a hot tourist destination. Byron sports a series of beautiful, long stretches of typically uncrowded beach where you can surf, lie in the sand, snorkel or swim in absolute peace. There’s the nearby picturesque Byron Bay lighthouse to enjoy, plus some great eateries and cafés in the town itself. It makes a great get-away year round.

Noosa, QLD
There are literally so many gorgeous beaches in Queensland that it’s hard to choose just one or two. Noosa is the obvious choice, giving us a showcase of everything the spectacular Sunshine Coast has to offer. Nestled in a fantastic beachside resort, Noosa Main Beach is a patrolled beach that makes it perfect for families, swimming, sailing, and more. Right off the beach you can often see pods of dolphins and whales migrating up and down the coast. And on the shores, you can see Koalas and other wildlife easily accessible to passers by. Just a short walk away, Noosa Park headland is home to the Noosa Festival of Surfing every March.

Cottesloe Beach, WA
Located between the Perth central business district and the port of Fremantle in Perth’s western suburbs, this fantastic city beach is only 15 minutes from the city center and has to rival Bondi as one of our most popular city beaches. Offering clear sparkling waters and amazingly bright white sands, Cottesloe is the perfect place to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean. It also has a reputation for some of the best seafood in the country… yum!

Wineglass Bay, TAS
One of Australia’s most beautiful beaches is the spectacular Wineglass Bay, which is located in Tassie’s amazing Freycinet National Park about three hour’s drive from Hobart. Considered one of the top ten beaches in the world, Wineglass Bay is a simply gorgeous curving stretch of sand that is contrasted against pink granite cliffs and sparkling turquoise waters. Fishing, sailing, sea kayaking and rock-climbing are all popular past times in Wineglass Bay, but we want to go there to just soak up the sun and spectacular scenery.

Casuarina Beach, NT
Darwin offers a host of lovely beachside destinations to choose from – which is a good thing in place with such hot and humid weather. Casuarina Beach is a popular choice, located on the doorstep of the northern suburbs, it’s just a short stroll to your choice of nature reserve and mangroves, or the City Mall where you can find ice cream, coffee shops and the wave pool. Another popular beachside destination is the Mindil Beach Market which kicks into life every year between May and October.

Apollo Bay, VIC
Surprisingly enough, Victoria has quite a few gorgeous beaches to choose from, but we’re picking Apollo Bay because it’s at located along the Great Ocean Road, a truly spectacular 90 minute drive from Melbourne. Apollo Bay beach itself is a lovely stretch of sand, but other attractions in the area will have you up and about, rather than lazing in the sun. Just up the road is the Twelve Apostles, a set of spectacular limestone pillars that rise up out of the Southern Ocean against the backdrop of the Port Campbell National Park – a sight not to be missed!

Glenelg Beach, SA
Glenelg is not just one of Australia’s best city beaches, it’s also a spectacular tourist destination offering fantastic shops, restaurants and bars at its gorgeous marina and jetty precinct. In fact, there’s an amazing choice of beaches just minutes from Adelaide’s city centre including Brighton Beach, West Beach, Henley Beach and more. Walk just 20 minutes north from Henley jetty and you’ll discover the Grange, complete with romantic coastal dunes and an historic jetty.

Getting ready to enjoy the spring and summer months may include an investment in a sailboat, speed boat or even a caravan to get you and the family out and about enjoying the spectacular lifestyle our fantastic country has to offer. Don’t forget that we’re here to help if you require financing for any personal assets – we do more than just home loans. It you want to make a purchase to help you make the most of our upcoming summer months, just give us a call!

In March last year, an amendment was made to the Privacy Act 1988, which allowed regulation reforms to be applied to the way credit-related personal information can be collected about you by lenders. The new system is known as ‘Comprehensive Credit Reporting’ and has brought Australia in line with the rest of the world regarding the way consumers are assessed by lenders when applying for credit and home loans.

The new rules have now been in effect for over a year, and most lenders are using Comprehensive Credit Reporting as part of their day to day operations when assessing you for a loan. This article looks at how Comprehensive Credit Reporting affects you and your capacity to borrow.

How have things changed?
Previously, lenders were only allowed to access negative information about your credit history. By ‘negative’ we mean that they were only able to access information that indicated if you had any major credit infringements, credit payment defaults, bankruptcy situations and declined applications for credit. This information did not give lenders a very good picture about your current financial situation and was only of limited use when making assessments on major credit applications like home loans.

Comprehensive Credit Reporting is designed to give lenders enough information about you to assess if you can afford to take on more debt and how much you can afford to repay. Lenders now have access to more data about you more often, which gives them a better picture of your current personal financial situation.

Information that credit providers can collect about you now includes account information including when an account was opened and closed, your credit limits on credit cards and loans, the type of credit accounts you hold (such as credit card or personal loan), as well as 24 months repayment history on any credit accounts you hold. They can also check on your overdue debts and payment defaults, the number of recent credit applications you have made recently and any publicly available information such as personal insolvency information, court writs, court judgements and directorship information.

What does this mean for you?
The new Comprehensive Credit Reporting system gives you more power to demonstrate your creditworthiness to mortgage lenders and other credit providers. It allows your recent good credit behavior to be taken into consideration and any adverse financial events to be overcome more quickly. It is also faster and easier for you to establish a credit history and compile a Credit Report.

On the downside, it is more important than ever before that you pay your bills on time. It is also important that you avoid making multiple credit applications before you decide on your credit provider as these will show up as minor defaults. If you’re not careful, you could accumulate a lot of minor defaults that could add up to make it appear as though you are under financial stress – and that may make it more difficult for you to get a home loan approved or make you ineligible for the lowest interest rates.

Make sure your Credit Report is accurate
Your Credit Report is compiled by a credit agency and is made available to lenders when you apply for a loan. Understanding your Credit Report and making sure it is correct can help to ensure your loan application goes smoothly.

Lenders will use your Credit Report to assess risk before they decide to give you a loan. We recommend that you obtain a copy of your Credit Report and make sure that is completely accurate. You can download a copy of your Credit Report once every 12 months for free from a variety of different credit reporting agencies – we recommend Veda or Dun & Bradstreet.

Once you have your Credit Report, you can address any negative information that should not be on there and take action to have it removed. Occasionally, your Credit Report can contain information that is very old, untrue or contain fraudulent entries that simply belong to someone else – so it pays to give it careful attention before you apply for any loans.

If you obtain your Credit Report and discover you have a low credit score, you can improve the situation over time with the right behavior:

  • Take action to remove any incorrect entries.
  • Always pay your bills on time or before the due date.
  • Pay down your existing debts.
  • Keep unused bank accounts open.
  • Reduce your credit limits – cancel any credit cards you don’t need.
  • Don’t make multiple applications when you are shopping for credit – talk to us about choosing the correct provider before you submit any loan applications.

Comprehensive Credit Reporting is good for Australian consumers as it helps lenders to be fair when assessing you for a loan. If you would like to discuss your Credit Report with us, we’re happy to help. Remember, we’re here to help you get the best deal available for your personal financial situation and goals for your mortgage and other financing requirements, and your Credit Report is an important part of the application process. Please give us a call today for a chat.


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