If you’re buying a property or considering refinancing your home loan in 2018, you may be asking yourself whether to fix your interest rate or not. Many people think about switching to a fixed interest rate mortgage when interest rates are low, in the belief that it will insulate them from future interest rate rises. In some instances, this approach could prove worthwhile, but not always and perhaps not for your situation. In this article, we explore the pros and cons of fixed, variable and split rate home loans to help you make an informed decision in 2018. If you’d like to explore your home loan options, please get in touch.

Are interest rates at their lowest and will they go up?

The official cash rate, as set by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), is what traditionally determines the base rate lenders use to set their home or investment loan interest rates. It has been at an historic low of 1.5 per cent since August 2016 and many experts are predicting it to remain steady throughout 2018. Tim Lawless, the head of research at property data analytics group CoreLogic, said the RBA would likely keep interest rates on hold during 2018, with an interest rate drop unlikely.

At this point, it would seem interest rates are indeed at their lowest. So, does this mean a fixed rate product would be a better option than a variable home loan? It could be, but not necessarily!

Pros and cons of fixed interest rates

With a fixed rate home loan, you can lock your interest rate in for a set period (usually 1 to 5 years). The advantages are that you can anticipate exactly what your repayments will be, and budget accordingly. Refinancing to a fixed rate mortgage may also be worthwhile if you are on a tight budget and need certainty about the cost of your repayments. You may pay a bit more in interest in the long run, but it could be worth it for the peace of mind.

The disadvantages of fixing your home loan? Fixed rate loans usually, but not always, have a higher interest rate and cost more than variable rate home loans. So, unless interest rates go up beyond what you’re paying at your fixed rate during your fixed period, you won’t make any savings compared to a variable rate loan. If there are interest rate drops, you won’t get the additional savings as you would if you had a variable rate loan.

There may also be limitations on making extra repayments on a fixed rate loan. In some instances, you may still be able to make extra repayments to pay the loan down quicker, but they may be capped at a low amount or there could be fees involved. Sometimes, redraw facilities may not be permitted on fixed rate loans, and there could be break fees if you refinance or pay off the loan within the fixed rate period.

Pros and cons of variable interest rates

Variable rate home loans usually have slightly lower interest rates than fixed rate home loans (but again, not always – it pays to ask us to shop around). If interest rates fall, your rate will usually fall too, as they tend to move with changes to market interest rates. Often, you can make extra repayments with variable rate home loans, allowing you to pay down your mortgage faster and potentially save money on interest. You can also access a range of handy features with variable loans, such as offset accounts or redraw facilities.

The disadvantage of variable rate home loans is that if interest rates rise, yours will too – but as Tim Lawless from CoreLogic says, that’s unlikely to happen in 2018. Budgeting can also be trickier, as your repayments will fluctuate if interest rates do change.

Another option – split your home loan

If you want to hedge your bets, you could consider a split rate mortgage. This is where you fix part of the home loan, while the rest is variable. In this way, you can mitigate some of the risks of interest rate rises while benefiting from useful features and extra repayment options. If you’d like to know more, talk to us and we’ll explain whether a split mortgage could be beneficial to you.

Call us before you decide

“Should I switch to a fixed rate home loan?” is one of the most common questions we receive from customers. It all comes down to your personal financial circumstances and what works for you – it’s not just about beating interest rate rises. If you’ve had the same home loan for a while or your fixed term is coming to an end, refinancing to a different loan product or lender may be worthwhile in any case. Speak to us and we’ll explain your options. We may be able to find you a better interest rate, or different loan features that could help you save money. Talk to us at Element Finance Joondalup and Fremantle about your financial situation and we’ll help you decide what move is right for you!

Many people begrudge paying for insurance, but the peace of mind that comes from knowing you, your family and your home are protected against unforeseen events is priceless! Insurance provides protection against short term financial hardship and set-backs that could have a serious long term effect on your future financial security.

In this article, we explain the types of insurance you should think about when buying a home. If you’d like to know more, simply talk to us about your requirements, we’re here to help.

Income Protection

This type of insurance provides an income safety net should you become sick or injured and are unable to work and make your home loan repayments. You may also like to consider trauma/critical illness cover, total and permanent disability insurance and life insurance – that way if you are unable to go back to work, you won’t lose your home.

Mortgage Protection 

Mortgage Protection insurance covers the cost of your mortgage repayments if you die, or become seriously ill. It should be noted that it is only meant to cover your mortgage repayments and not any other expenses for you or your family. It may be a wise choice if you already have some other kind of life insurance – say with your super plan.

Building & Contents

Building or home insurance protects against the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home from things that are outside your control, like fire or natural disasters. You can opt for total replacement cover (to rebuild your home as it was prior to the event), or sum-insured cover (coverage up to a certain amount). When you buy a home, your mortgage broker will most likely recommend that you insure the property before settlement day.

When choosing your policy, make sure you have the right amount of coverage, as well as the right type of insurance for your actual needs. Talk to us, as we are an invaluable source of information to help you determine this.

Contents insurance protects your belongings, including carpets, rugs and curtains, in events such as fires, storms or theft. Often it will be bundled together with home insurance. Many people consider it a must-have to protect from those smaller disasters – even a contained kitchen fire could render your home unliveable until you can repair the damage!

How can your mortgage broker help?

We can access some of Australia’s most respected insurance providers, and offer you a competitive price on your insurance needs. What’s great is that we can do it all – from setting you up with a home loan that meets your financial circumstances, and also help you to arrange the right insurance to protect you and your family. You’ll find we can offer a range of options and make it easy. You may also be able to save by bundling insurances together, so please get in touch today! What insurance do you need to know about when buying a property?

If you’ve been dreaming about purchasing your own place, but a niggling voice in the back of your mind has been offering up objections, we’re here to tell that voice to pump the breaks, champ! In this article, we tackle some of the common objections first-home buyers may have to buying right now, and explain why you should talk with us today.

Objection 1: “I don’t have a big enough deposit”

If you’ve been working hard to save a deposit and feel like it’s never going to be big enough, we have some exciting news for you! Size doesn’t always matter, especially not in this scenario. Being approved for a home loan is not necessarily dependant on how much of a deposit you have, but rather your capacity to repay the mortgage. There are all sorts of options available to aspiring homeowners who don’t have a 20% deposit.

Some lenders still offer home loans for up to 95% of the purchase price. The borrowing criteria can be more stringent than other types of loans, but if you have a clear credit history, stable employment, a solid income, minimal debt and are in a good asset position, you may qualify. Most home loan providers will want to see evidence you’ve saved at least 5% of the purchase price, and you may have to pay Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance with this type of loan – but you’ll have your foot on the property ladder! Speak to us to find out whether this kind of loan could work for you.

Another way to get a foot on the property ladder could be to ask your parents or a family member to be your guarantor. This is when they use the equity in their property as security for your loan. The right time to buy your first home is as soon as you can afford to do so!

Objection 2: “I think the market will downturn”

Whilst the property market does go up and down in cycles, “timing the market” is not as important as “time IN the market”. The sooner you buy a property, the sooner it will be possible for it to start to experience capital growth (which is the term we use to describe how much your property goes up in value whilst you own it).

There is always a possibility that your property will go down in value after you purchase it. However, you need to remember it has only gone down in value ‘on paper’ – you won’t actually lose any money unless you sell it. Market fluctuations are common and it is likely it will have recovered in value by the time you want to sell.

Choosing the right home in the right location can help protect against property market fluctuations and improve your chances of long-term capital growth. When you locate a property you’re interested in buying, we can help you check its capital growth potential with a free property market report – so please ask us.

Objection 3: “I can’t afford a home where I would want to live”

Most people don’t get to buy their dream home the first time around – it’s a goal you can work towards once you get on the property ladder. If you can’t afford to buy your dream home in your preferred location, you could look for something in another location, consider a smaller property that’s more affordable, or opt for a fixer-upper that has potential but just needs a little love. Another option that’s becoming increasingly popular is to rent-vest – rent where you want to live and buy an investment property somewhere else. That way, you can grow your nest egg to enable you to eventually buy the home you want.

There’s no time like the present to chat with us about your plans and finance options. Please get in touch and we’ll explain your borrowing capacity, home loan options and help you get pre-approval on your loan so you can start looking for a property to buy sooner. Is now the right time to buy your first home?

It’s hard to believe we’re already into November and Christmas is only weeks away! The spring property market is really heating up, with the number of auctions in our capital cities reaching a record high at the end of October. At the same time, rises in home values seem to have stalled and clearance rates are lower, so if you’re in the market to buy a property you may be able to score one that’s right on budget at auction. Interest rates are still very competitive, so why not call us now to talk about your plans?

Interest Rate News

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep the cash rate on hold at 1.5% again this month. It’s the 15th consecutive month with no rate change – the RBA last moved rates in August 2016, cutting the cash rate by 0.25 basis points. According to market analysts, it’s unlikely the RBA will make any move to adjust the cash rate at its final meeting for 2017 next month.

Property Market News

Home value increases slowed across the combined capital cities in October. Melbourne proved to be more resilient than Sydney, with dwelling values up 0.5% over the month, compared to Sydney, where they dropped -0.5%. Melbourne also saw stronger growth over the quarter, up 1.9% while Sydney’s prices fell -0.6%.

Dwelling values grew by 0.9% in Hobart in the month of October, and the city also saw the highest change in dwelling value growth over the quarter (up 3.3%). In Brisbane, values increased by 0.2% during the month of October, and 0.6% during the quarter. In Adelaide and Perth, there was no monthly change in dwelling values. Adelaide saw prices rise 0.1% over the quarter, while Perth’s prices fell -0.7% in the three months prior to October 31. Canberra saw prices fall -0.1% last month, but overall they increased 1.1 percent during the quarter.

Record auction numbers in October

Auction volumes across the combined capital cities reached record highs at the end of last month, according to CoreLogic. In the last week of October, the combined capital cities held 3,690 auctions, returning a preliminary auction clearance rate of 67.8%. Melbourne saw volumes reach their highest level on record, with 1,983 properties going under the hammer and 71.7% being snapped up!

The ACT also had a high clearance rate of 77% for 128 scheduled auctions. In South Australia, there were 163 scheduled auctions and 68% sold. New South Wales held 1,395 scheduled auctions, and achieved a clearance rate of 64%. In Tasmania, there were only six auctions, but 60% of properties sold. Half of the 60 properties that went to auction in Western Australia sold, while in the Northern Territory there were 10 scheduled auctions (44% clearance rate). Queensland had the lowest clearance rate for the week ending October 29 (43% for 361 scheduled auctions).

Now the Christmas shopping season has arrived, we know you’ll be busy buying gifts for your loved ones – so it might help to read our article this month about resisting the urge to splurge! Now is also a fantastic time to talk with us about your property purchasing plans, or to see us about a home loan health check, so please give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.Welcome to our November Newsletter

If you’re a first-time buyer and new to inspecting properties, it can be difficult to know what to look out for, especially when you’re excited about your first home purchase!

Well, first-timers, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ve put together a 101 guide of things to be mindful of during your home inspections – all the big issues which may be costly to fix down the track. When you do find a property that ticks your boxes, you’ll want to be ready to move fast, so remember to talk to us about getting pre-approval on your home loan before you start inspecting. But first, here’s our checklist to help you avoid buying a lemon!

It’s all about your budget

If you’re a first time buyer and looking for a home, you’ll probably be inspecting properties that need money spent on them for a variety of different reasons. This checklist is designed to help you inspect properties effectively so you can rule out the lemons and save money on multiple building and pest inspections. But remember, it won’t rule out the need for a professional inspection on the place you decide to buy!

Structural issues: These are generally the most expensive and difficult problems to repair. During the inspection, keep your eyes peeled for signs of subsidence, uneven floors, cracks in the walls or brickwork, or doors that don’t close properly.

Plumbing issues: You don’t want to be knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door when you take a shower, so don’t be shy about turning on the taps to check for hammer issues. Make sure the water pressure is good and the drains are operating well.

Dampness: Stains, water marks and damaged or peeling paint may indicate the property has issues with dampness. Sometimes, vendors try to paint over problems, so channel your inner canine and use your sense of smell during the inspection.

Mould: This may be an indication of a bigger, more expensive problem, such as a leaky roof, plumbing issues, inadequate ventilation, or rising damp. All of these can be expensive to fix, so check bathrooms, ceilings, window frames and walls meticulously.

Termites: When you’re inspecting properties, look for the tell-tale signs – sagging or buckling floors, hollow-sounding beams and “mud leads”. A bad termite problem may produce a sweet, sugary smell. No matter where you live in Australia, always get a pest inspection, because termites are everywhere and they can be costly to evict!

Wiring: If the property is sporting a 1970s chandelier, or antiquated switches and sockets, the electrical wiring may be outdated and it could end up costing you to rewire. Check the electrical box as this will tell you when the system was last updated. If it does not have a residual current circuit breaker, then it has probably not been brought up to modern standards.

Appliances: It’s always a good idea to take a good look at the fixed appliances such as the oven, stove, air-conditioner, dishwasher and heating system. If they look like they are on their last legs, you’ll need to factor in the cost of getting them replaced.

Renovations: Homes at the less pricey end of the market often have outdated kitchens and bathrooms. Many first home buyers think they can live with the situation until they save up to do a renovation, however you need to be realistic – these can be expensive to replace so get a quote so you can factor it into your budget! If renovations have already been done, check the quality.

Asbestos: Properties built before 1990 may contain asbestos. During the inspection, find out when the property was built and ask about the construction materials. If the property is of ‘fibro construction’ it probably has asbestos – which is not dangerous if it is in good condition, but get your building inspector to check carefully before you move ahead with a purchase.

Roof: Stand back in the street and cast your eye over the roof. What is it made of – tin or tiles? Is it rusty? Are there any missing or damaged tiles? Does the pointing between the tiles look crumbly? These can all indicate the roof needs work, so if it looks at all suspicious, be sure to get it checked out properly as a new roof can be costly.

We hope you’ll find our inspection guide handy! But remember, even if you’ve developed an eagle eye and a nose for trouble, protect yourself by getting professional building and pest inspections before you buy anything! If you need a referral to a reliable inspector, just let us know. Before you set out on your buying journey, it’s a good idea to talk to us so you can determine your budget and get pre-approval on your home loan. Then once you find the right place and it’s been given the all-clear, we can help you move quickly. We’d love to help with your first home buying journey, so please get in touch!First home buyers, what to look out for when inspecting properties

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