Property or the loan first?

What comes first: the property or the loan?

It’s easy to get carried away with the fun part of buying a property – looking at houses – but delaying the less compelling task of arranging finance will weaken your negotiating position on both the property and the loan.

Looking for a property to purchase is an exciting time. Choices regarding location, size, number of rooms and local amenities often see house hunters carried away in a deluge of daydreams and anticipation.

But, before you get carried away, it’s important to check off the essentials first. Although organising your finances may seem drab in comparison to perusing sales listings, gaining pre-approval with a lender will give you confidence about how much you can afford to borrow.

“First and foremost you need to determine if you’re eligible to borrow money from a lender,”. “Your ability to repay the loan will need to be assessed – you don’t what to find out after you’ve [made an offer] that your credit history or deposit is not up to scratch”.

Arranging finance before finding the perfect property will put you in a good position when it comes time to make an offer. When you do find the house you have always wanted, you can present to the seller and estate agent as a prepared applicant who is serious and reliable.

“It shows you mean business, and gives them peace of mind that your financing will not fall through. Don’t be afraid to let the selling agent know you have conditional loan approval in place”.

Sellers are most interested in completing their sale fuss-free and with steadfast funding, and showing that you are capable of both will help put you at the top of a potentially competitive list of applicants.

In the instance that you find and secure purchase of a home without having your loan pre-approved by a lender, there are a few pitfalls that you risk running into.

If you don’t have financing to pay for your property, you run the risk of forfeiting your initial 10 per cent non-refundable deposit you need to put down to secure the property. This may differ depending on what state you live in, but the point is it always pays to be organised and have pre-approval in place.

Saving home loan applications to the last minute also leaves less time to find the most suitable loan and have it approved ahead of settlement.

Arranging financing as an afterthought also adds immense pressure to the process of shopping around for the right loan and gathering the paperwork to prove you can service the loan. You don’t want to rush this process. The first step towards finding your new home is speaking to an MFAA Accredited Finance Broker to sort out the finances.

Refinancing, Should I Do It?

Exit costs when refinancing

Refinancing can be a great way to save money if you believe you are paying too much for your loan, but there is more to it than just finding a loan with a lower interest rate and making the change. Before making the switch, ensure the savings you could make outweigh the fees involved. Here are the different exit costs to consider:

Exit fee
Although loans that were taken out after 1 July 2011 are not subject to a deferred establishment, or exit, fees, those taken out prior may still be. Also, known as ‘early termination’ or ‘early discharge’ fees, they can sometimes be paid by your new lender but are normally applied to an early contract exit.

Establishment fee
Also, known as ‘application’, ‘up-front’ or ‘set-up’ fees, these cover the lender’s cost of preparing the necessary documents for your new home loan. They are payable on most new loans, and the alternative to not paying this particular fee is being charged higher ongoing fees for the life of the loan.

Mortgage discharge fee
Covering your early legal release from all mortgage obligations, this fee is not to be confused with an exit fee. Also known as a ‘settlement’ or ‘termination’ fee, its purpose is to compensate your lender for the revenue it may lose due to the contract break.

Lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI)
The non-transferrable premium means that if you hold less than 20 percent equity at the time of your refinance, you may have to pay LMI even if you paid it on the original loan. Extra care is also needed here because, whether or not you hold 20 per cent of the original valuation of the property, you may not if the property’s value has decreased and; while LMI may not have been a consideration at all in the original loan, it may be payable on the refinance.

Stamp duty
If your purpose for making the switch is to increase your loan amount, for example, to fund renovations, then stamp duty will apply only to the difference between the original loan amount and the refinanced loan amount. Different rules apply in different states, so it’s worth speaking to your broker to see if this charge applies.

Other government charges
Fees are applied for the registration and deregistration of a mortgage so that all claims on a property can be checked by any future buyers. Varying from state to state, these can potentially add up to $1000 or more.

Break fee
If you were on a fixed rate loan, your lender is likely to charge you a fee for ‘breaking’ out of the loan term. This fee varies depending on the amount owed, the interest rate you were locked into, the current interest rate and the duration of your loan.

Although some of these fees can be negotiated by a broker, the total cost can be substantial. An MFAA accredited finance broker can ensure that refinancing will help you achieve your goals while maintaining your capacity to service the debt. A finance broker can also ensure you are only paying the relevant fees for your unique circumstance.