18th April, 2024

How is Your Home Loan Interest Rate Calculated?

Finance Tips
Home Loan Education
Home Loans

Buying a home or just refinancing one usually means a hefty financial commitment – and understanding interest rates is key to making sound choices.

We often get asked how the interest rate on your mortgage is calculated.

Let’s dive in!

Factors Influencing the Interest Rate of Your Mortgage

Your interest rate isn’t a random number. It’s determined by several factors:

  • Credit Score: A high credit score indicates you’re a reliable borrower, potentially earning you a lower interest rate. If you want to get a free credit score report reach out to us.
  • Loan-to-Value Ratio (LVR): LVR reflects how much you’re borrowing relative to the property’s value. Higher LVRs may mean higher interest rates especially as you pass 80% LVR and it really ramps up over 90%.
  • Loan Type: Different loan types (variable, fixed, line of credit, interest only, intro rates etc.) come with varying interest rates. The cheapest form of lending is usually principal and interest for owner-occupied purposes. The more expensive rates are interest-only investment purpose lending. If your loan is an SMSF (Self Managed Superannuation Fund) loan then the rates are higher again because they are limited recourse structures.
  • Economic Climate: Interest rates are a function of controlling inflation first and foremost. The effects of rapid rates of inflation have a very corrosive effect on people’s purchasing power and the overall stability of the greater economy. To curb inflation, central banks, like the RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) raise the cash rate, the rate at which banks borrow money from each other. When the cash rate goes up, lenders typically raise their interest rates, and vice versa. This discourages borrowing and spending, which can help slow down inflation. Conversely, if the economy weakens and inflation falls, the cash rate may be lowered to stimulate borrowing and spending.
  • Funding Costs: Banks lend you money from various sources which include but are not limited to deposits held, bonds and other security instruments. Depending on a number of macro-level variables source funding costs can be more expensive at times which sees the cost passed onto you, the borrower.

Types of Interest Rates

  • Variable Rates: Fluctuate with the market, and will rise and fall during your loan term. Banks and lenders can also move rates outside of RBA if conditions determine so.
  • Fixed Rates: Stay the same for a set time, typically 1-5 years, offering predictable repayments.
  • Split Rates: A combination of variable and fixed rate portions within the same loan.
  • Introductory rates: Also called honeymoon rates are, as the name suggests, a cheaper starter rate that ramps up after a period of time usually six to twelve months. In the long run honeymoon rates are generally a more expensive product solution and are rarely recommended by us.

What’s the Outlook in 2024 for Interest Rates

Interest rates are constantly changing. The best way to get an accurate picture is by comparing lenders or appointing a broker who proactively does this for you during the life of your loan (like we do at AXTON Finance!). Look at their advertised rates primarily, but be cautious in relying just on the so-called comparison rate which is usually an inaccurate assessment for larger loan sizes of $750k. It’s worth considering that comparison rates only compare a standard $150,000 loan over a set 25-year term including all fees and charges. An experienced mortgage broker can help demonstrate the effects of what a new loan term may really cost you, especially when you factor into account the long-term effects of consolidating debts, like a car loan or credit card into your home loan. The costs can be nasty if you are blinded by the ‘lower’ monthly repayment on offer.

Tips to Save Interest on Your Home or Investment Loan

Larger Down Payment: Lowering your LVR means potentially lower interest rates.

Shorter Loan Term: Reduces the total interest paid, though repayments will be higher.

Consider an Offset Account: Offsets your savings balance against your loan balance, decreasing the amount you pay interest on each repayment cycle. When used right this structure combined with the above concepts can have an enormous compounding effect on the cost of your loan.

Refinance Regularly: Don’t stick with the same lender forever because ‘it’s OK’ or ‘you are too busy’. Shopping around and refinancing when better rates arise could save significant interest if you are comparing apples with apples and getting good advice from an experienced mortgage broker.

Fortnightly Payments: Paying fortnightly instead of monthly means you make an extra month’s worth of repayments over a year, reducing interest faster. This can easily cut five years off a normal 30-year loan term.

Harness Credit Card Power: If disciplined, put all your expenses on a card with a long interest-free period (say 55 days) and pay it off IN FULL each cycle. In the meantime, your salary in your offset account reduces the loan’s interest-accruing balance.

Negotiate: Don’t be afraid to ask your lender for a better rate, particularly if you’ve got a good repayment history. Better still your broker should be regularly doing this for you as part of their ongoing service – if they aren’t you better speak to us.

How Axton Finance Can Help?

Navigating interest rates and loans can be overwhelming especially when there seems to be near limitless choice. That’s where we step in! As experienced mortgage brokers, we’re here to guide busy professionals like you through the complexities. We’ll compare lenders, help you secure pre-approvals tailored to your circumstances, and ensure you find the most competitive rates for your home or investment loan.

Let us help you make informed financial decisions – get in touch today!