Finance advice

Banks launch discounted mortgages

By Simon Parker

Competition between Australia’s banks continues to heat up, with a number of lenders cutting their mortgage interest rates on both variable and fixed rate products.

Effective from today, Macquarie Bank will offer a first year discount on its Classic, Premium and Line of Credit loan categories – taking its variable rate to 5.85 per cent.

The discount off the standard variable rate will apply during the first 12 months of the loan and is applicable on all eligible applications settled on or before 28 September 2012.

Macquarie Bank's products are available through mortgage brokers or directly through the bank's own mortgage specialists.

Macquarie Adviser Services head of broker sales Doug Lee said the business was committed to ensuring a compelling offering for mortgage brokers and their clients.

“We firmly believe that choice is the key to a healthy market for borrowers, brokers and originators, and this new rate offer is all about choice, providing a compelling and very competitive pricing option,” Mr Lee said.

In addition to its first year discounts, Macquarie is currently offering free upfront valuations through its Online Valuation Ordering platform until 31 August 2012.

Earlier this month, Citibank cut their one and two year fixed rates by 10 basis points, down to 5.79 per cent p.a..

Citibank’s head of mortgages strategy, marketing and product Belen Lopez Denis said Citibank’s fixed rate products are now lower than the average standard variable rate – which is an unusual phenomenon.

“For those considering purchasing a house, it is a good idea to look at the fixed rate options. With so much market uncertainty, it might be worth considering fixing all or part of the mortgage,” she said.

“Citibank also offers a 60-day free rate lock so customers can cost-effectively guarantee the low fixed rate for 60 days after application.”

Citibank's move comes as enquiries for fixed interest rate mortgages flatline.

According to Ray White's mortgage brokerage Loan Market Group, customer enquiries for fixed rate mortgages had fallen to around 15 per cent of total home loan enquiries – down from 30 per cent earlier this year.

“The demand for fixed rate products has fallen as variables rates have basically intersected with fixed rates,” Loan Market spokesperson Paul Smith said.

“Fixed rate products had spent the majority of 2012 around a full percentage point below variable rates, however with a downward outlook on rates, lenders aren’t shifting fixed rates parallel to variable rates.

“The feedback from consumers shunning fixed rates is that they’re convinced home loan rates have further to drop and that they’re anticipating a period of prolonged low interest rates.”

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The practice of property investment firms sharing undisclosed kickbacks among the supply chain involved in development sales will be outlawed in NSW on 1 July this year under the Real Estate Reform being handed down by regulators in NSW.

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Property commentator and valuer, Suburbanite’s Anna Porter, said the reform will address conflicts of interest.

She said they arise when a mortgage broker, accountant or financial planner receives part of the commission from the property firm, who receive their fees from the developer or seller.

“This puts the broker into a position by which they are being paid on both sides of the fence,” she said.

“Until now this has been a grey area and there was nothing stopping this practice.” 

Ms Porter said this has been a common practice in the industry.

"Some well-known mortgage broking firms openly admit to receiving $5,000–$10,000 per referral in their pocket.”

She also said this process has been going on for decades.

"Property investment firms commonly pass some of their commission on to the mortgage broker, accountant or financial planner as a reward to them for passing on the referral. This means that many brokers or financial service providers are making significant amounts of money just to refer on to a property firm, often totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars a year," Anna Porter said.

Ms Porter said the Property, Stock and Business Agents Amendment (Property Industry Reform) Bill 2017 will be in force from July this year, and will prohibit this practice unless the broker or referring partner also holds a real estate industry license.

"Under the new laws, if the broker takes a referral fee from the property firm, they will have to be a licensed real estate agent and also hold a corporation’s license,” she said. 

“Subsequently, every transaction that they receive a referral fee from, they will be putting their license up against the transaction and taking full liability for the conduct, practices and outcome of that transaction, even if they have little to do with the transaction; they are a party to it financially and therefore take as much risk as everyone else in the transaction.”

Mr Porter said where a referrer holds a real estate license, and receives a part of the sale commission, they may find themselves in breach of the ethical requirements under the act.

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New data from Mortgage Choice shows that property buyers continue to choose variable rate home loan products, as demand for fixed rate home loans fell for the eighth consecutive month. 

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According to the company’s latest national home loan approval data, variable rate home loans accounted for over 82 per cent of all home loans written throughout May 2018 — up over 2 per cent from the month prior, and almost 7 per cent higher than the 12-month average.

Mortgage Choice CEO, Susan Mitchell, said this trend will continue as borrowers develop apathy towards the RBA’s stagnant cash rate.

“Indeed, we continue to see borrowers opt for the flexible nature of variable rate home loans which may offer a redraw facility, offset accounts and the ability to make extra repayments. These features are not typically associated with fixed rate loans.

“While a fixed rate product provides repayment certainty, variable home loan rates have been relatively stable for a prolonged period of time giving borrowers little incentive to fix.”

This week’s Housing Finance data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 52,116 home loans were approved throughout April, down 1.4 per cent from the previous month.

Ms Mitchell said she is unsurprised that the value of investment loans dipped — falling 0.9 of a percentage point to $10.7 billion in April.

She said this could reflect tighter lending standards and serviceability policies.

“However, May data may show an increase in investment loans following APRA lifting the cap on investor loan growth at the end of April,” said Ms Mitchell.

Ms Mitchell also noted that the number of first home buyer commitments as a percentage of total owner-occupied housing finance commitments rose to 17.6 per cent in April 2018, from 13.7 per cent in January 2018.

“This increase is significant and first home buyers seem to be propping up the market.”

Ms Mitchell said she expected home loan demand would be maintained.

“[Due to] a combination of factors, such as historically low interest rates, easing property prices and access to FHOGs.”

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Buyer ‘apathy’ behind mortgage preferences
object(stdClass)#1224 (52) {
  ["id"]=>
  string(5) "18158"
  ["title"]=>
  string(57) "The benefits of investing in a decreasing property market"
  ["alias"]=>
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  ["introtext"]=>
  string(150) "

The Australian property market is arguably in a softening phase, and this can have both positive and negative effects for property investors.

" ["fulltext"]=> string(2963) "

In this episode of the Smart Property Investment show, Real Estate Gym’s Tom Panos joins host Phil Tarrant to discuss how investors can take advantage of this decreasing market by leveraging off of the reduced urgency in the sales process.  He also discusses the importance of researching up to date sales data before investing and looks at the state of the Australian property market as a whole.

With many property investors also selling property throughout their journey Tom reveals the best months to buy property in Australia, shares his thoughts on why an auction is not always the best method of sale and how as a purchasing decision it can lead to over-paying.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Hobart

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The benefits of investing in a decreasing property market

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