Finance advice
Marie Mortimer

Is it time to split your loan?

By Marie Mortimer

Have rates gone as low as they can go – and what should you do with your debts while money is so cheap? 

Blogger: Marie Mortimer, managing director, loans.com.au

There is so much debate and speculation about interest rates lately it's hard to know what to do with your home loan. Do you stay with a variable rate and bank on the RBA cutting the cash rate again? Or do you think rates have gone as low as they are going? Does this mean you should choose a fixed-rate loan?

Interest rates are already at historic lows, with standard variable rates starting at 4.23 per cent and new fixed-rate loan products are being launched into the market with growing frequency. It means you don’t have a bad option, really, but how do you know what is the best choice?

In recent months you may have found yourself among the thousands of Australian home-owners poring over news reports about the latest economic indicators and opinion pieces by noted analysts who predict that the RBA will cut, or hold, the cash rate. When interest rates get as low as they are, the temptation to fix your home loan interest rate is almost too great to bear  – but the possibility of yet another rate cut is tantalising. What if you fix too soon and rates drop again? There is some talk of the RBA cutting the cash rate at least one more time this year. But what if they don’t?

The truth is, there aren’t many people who have experienced interest rates as low as they are now, so first-hand knowledge of these market conditions is hard to find. Reading the tea leaves on what your mortgage interest rate is likely to do is more art than science: even the most skilled finance experts don’t usually agree. Even if they are correct in their forecasts of the RBA’s moves on the cash rate, there is no way to know whether or not your lender will pass on any cuts. They aren’t obliged to.

Fixed and variable loans have their strengths and weaknesses. Usually, a variable loan will let you take advantage of an interest rate cut; a fixed rate will not. But a fixed rate will protect you from an interest rate rise, which a variable loan will not. Often, a fixed rate loan does not let you make extra repayments, but a variable loan does. A fixed loan gives you certainty over your interest rate, and a variable loan does not.

So what is the best strategy for minimising the interest you pay on your home loan when interest rates are low, but unstable? You could always try hedging your bets.

If you have chosen a flexible home loan, you should have the option to split your loan into fixed and variable. A split loan means you nominate the percentage of the loan amount that will attract a variable interest rate, and what will be on a fixed rate. You should also be able to choose how long the fixed term will be.

A split loan will let you make extra repayments on a variable interest rate to get the principal down while interest rates are low, but will not leave you totally exposed to an interest rate rise because a portion of your loan is on a fixed interest rate.

A split loan lets you have your cake and eat it, too.

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Will Magee has had ambitions to enter into the Australian property market for quite some time, but it has been more than just finances holding him back.  Having been granted permanent residency just two weeks ago, Will is wasting no time and is now in the process of signing papers and finding his first investment property.

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Will joins host Phil Tarrant to share why he is purchasing his first property in partnership with his brother, discuss the complications that can arise from such a strategy, and unpack the ongoing plan for building a joint property portfolio with his brother.

Will will also share how they approached saving for their first property, why he is taking out the mortgage in his name exclusively, and share their savings plan for the year ahead.

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!

RELATED AREAS OF INTEREST:

From property in Australia to a ski lodge in Japan
Mortgage Trusts, an alternative first step for property investors
Should a real estate title be in one person’s name only?

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A property investment plan years in the making
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Median house prices in regional Victoria outperformed that of Melbourne in the June quarter, the latest REIV figures reveal. 

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Median house prices in the regions rose 4.0 per cent to $419,500 but in Melbourne they dipped by 0.6 of a percentage point to $840,000.

The result in Melbourne was due to a 0.8 of a percentage point fall in prices achieved at auction; this was despite a lift of 2.3 per cent in private sales.

Inner Melbourne suffered due to auction prices, where median prices fell by 4.9 per cent to $1,459,000 but it was middle Melbourne that was hardest hit, with a 5.4 per cent drop to $974,500.

Outer Melbourne had a good quarter with the median rising by 0.5 of a percentage point to $681,000.

Apartment prices in regional Victoria grew by 3.7 per cent to $304,500 while the metro media was up by 0.5 of a percentage point to $604,000.

REIV President Richard Simpson said that despite fewer sales, many sectors of the market were performing well.

“2017 was a bumper year and while the trendline has flattened, despite the fall in median house prices in the June quarter, median prices are still up this calendar year for both houses and units, in Melbourne and in the regions,” Mr Simpson said. 

In particular there was been strong growth in regional centres which is probably due to the first-home buyers’ concessions said Mr Simpsons.

“The first-home buyers’ concession has been a boon for regional areas. A new entrant to the property market buying a house at the regional median will pay no stamp duty, while a first home buyer of an apartment in Melbourne at the median price would pay stamp duty of nearly $25,000,” he said.

Mr Simpson said that more prospective buyers are looking towards regional Victoria which is also having an effect in Melbourne.

“Melbourne’s outer perimeter continues to grow. Small increases in the June quarter mean that the median prices for both houses and units have risen over 10.5 per cent from a year ago.

Mr Simpson said moving forward that vendors need more realistic expectations as the highs of 2017 are now over.

“Negative chatter about the future of the sector coupled with stronger lending controls by financial institutions has created some uncertainty and vendors need to be realistic with their price expectations,” Mr Simpson said.

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Regional Victoria showing up Melbourne in price performance, new data finds
object(stdClass)#1203 (52) {
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  ["title"]=>
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  ["introtext"]=>
  string(381) "

If Mark Hodge’s face looks familiar to you it could be because of his time working as a professional entertainer which saw him working with the Australian ballet, appearing on multiple seasons of Dancing with the Stars and touring in musical theatre for 17 years. What you may not know is that Mark is also heavily involved in the short-term property rental marketspace.

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Mark joins host Phil Tarrant to discuss his transition from entertainer to investor, a journey pushed forward by dance related injuries and even a hit and run which saw him needing to find alternate methods to bring in an income. Mark shares how bad long-term tenants and a gang member guided him to the short-term rental market, and how this pushed him into helping others to realise the same benefits.

Mark will also address the common concerns, discuss what his company Maisonnets specialise in and unpack how they are making the process of filling short term rentals easier for investors.

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!

RELATED AREAS OF INTEREST:

The hard-to-swallow truth: The prickly points of the Airbnb reforms
Airbnb reforms unpacked for property investors
Airbnb leasing: What are a landlord’s rights and responsibilities? 


AREAS MENTIONED:

Melbourne
Sydney
Rushcutters Bay
Maroubra
Potts Point

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From pirouettes to property investment

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