If you and your home loan have notched up a few years together, it’s worth checking you’re still right for each other.
Time may be kind to fine wine or a good pair of jeans but it doesn’t always improve your mortgage.
As your home loan ages it can get a little saggy round the middle. The rate may not be as trim as it once was, and the features can be less flexible than those of a younger loan.
Worst case scenario, an ageing mortgage can see you paying more than necessary.
We look at five reasons why it pays to check if your home loan is past its prime.
1. Interest rates have dropped dramatically
The mortgage market is highly competitive, and over the last few years home loan rates have tumbled.
Just five years ago, in mid-2012, the average standard variable rate was 6.85%. Today it’s just 5.30%. That’s a difference of 1.55%, and a home loan that was competitive in its day could now sit at the more expensive end of the spectrum.
But there’s no need to settle for average. Plenty of today’s home loans have a rate well below 5.30%, and there can be big savings up for grabs by switching to a cheaper loan.
Let’s say for instance that your mortgage comes with a rate of 5.5% – a little above the current market average. On a 25-year loan you’d expect to pay $2,149.30 in monthly repayments. If we crunch the numbers using Aussie’s Home Loan Repayment Calculator, it turns out that switching to a new loan with a rate of 4.5% could push the repayments down to $1,945.41 – a monthly saving of $203.89. Add it up over the course of a year and refinancing could add an extra $2,446.68 to your hip pocket annually. It’s like an instant pay rise, freeing up money to pay off your mortgage sooner or achieve other personal goals.
If you’re not sure what you’re paying or you simply can’t remember, it’s a fair bet your loan is getting long in the tooth.
2. Your loyalty may not be rewarded
Loyalty shouldn’t leave you out of pocket, but that’s exactly what could be happening. Some lenders offer a cracking rate – but only to new customers.
That makes it worth asking your lender about the rate new customers are paying. If it’s less than your current rate, you could have some negotiating clout. Or it could be time to put your home loan out to pasture and pocket the perks of being a newbie with a different lender.
3. Your loan features can look a little old-fashioned
Home loans can be a bit like cars – the features improve year by year. That’s important because flexible features can save you money.
These days, fee-free redraw, 100 per cent offset, even repayment holidays and the option to split between fixed and variable rates can often be found even with basic loans.
Sticking with an older home loan can be like holding onto an outdated car. It may feel comfortable but when you switch to a younger model you’ll wonder why you put up with the dodgy suspension and lack of Bluetooth for so long.
4. You’ve moved on
Our lives don’t stand still for long, and odds are plenty has changed since you first took out your loan. The trouble is, your mortgage may not be keeping up.
Maybe you could do with an offset account to put spare cash to work. Perhaps a package loan could let you bundle all your financial products with one lender.
If you’ve outgrown your loan, it’s worth looking at what’s available elsewhere.
5. The numbers stack up
Giving your old loan the flick can provide valuable rate savings or let you access improved features. However, refinancing can come with additional costs like application fees on the new loan.
Your local Aussie broker can let you know if switching to a new loan stacks up financially. It takes just a few minutes to complete a home loan health check, and you’ll have a clear idea if refinancing will put you ahead.
The bottom line is that an oldie may be a goodie. But not when it comes to your home loan. Updating your loan can see you save a bundle, and that could provide the extra cash you’ve been looking for to step up to your dream home.