How to Choose a Home Loan

Home loans are available in a number of different variations. There are introductory, variable and fixed rates from hundreds of lenders, with interest-only or principal & interest repayment methods. The features offered by each lender differ and there are a number of variations available to suit your mortgage needs. So how do you find out what will work best for you?


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    Go in armed with knowledge about repayments and features that will suit your circumstances.
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    Consider the whole package. If a loan has a really low interest rates, chances are the fee structure is high. If there are lots of features, it’s more than likely you’ll pay for them via a higher interest rate or more fees.
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    Structure is all important. To get the right loan, you have to ask yourself what your finance needs are and what are your ‘essential’ features. Your loan must accommodate your individual circumstances. If you’re buying your first home your loan needs to be easily manageable, especially in the first year. Taking out a home loan is a big change to your family finances so make sure you take the time to work out what you can manage.
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    Think about the size of deposit you can afford. It’s likely that you’ll only be loaned 80% unless you’re willing to pay for lenders mortgage insurance. There are lenders who’ll provide 100% loan to value ratio without insurance, but this will likely be due to a higher interest rate or greater fees in the long run.
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    Look for the ability to make additional repayments at no extra cost, and the ability to make repayments via direct debit, ATM’s internet and phone banking. It’s also a good idea to check if you can re-fix your interest rate at no cost, or split your loan.
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    Find the right lender. Often the best way is by word of mouth or consult a local lender or bank. Ask questions – make sure they will be available to help you and explain the process, do they have various loan programs to show you and will there be customer service consultants readily available post-settlement to help you with any changes or queries.
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    Lenders are obliged to provide and explain the nature of their loans and fees so keep the questions coming. Ask about the total fees associated with the mortgage, and what fees are paid from beginning to end. A lot of people move out of their loan after three or five years so find out if there are any prepayment penalties and if there are exit costs. Ask them to set out ALL fees; if you say exit fees, they may not tell you about break, discharge or settlement fees. Remember, be particular with your questions.
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    A comparison rate can be very handy when understanding the true cost of a loan. While lenders may advertise what appears to be a very low rate, the comparison rate represents a truer rate – an advertiser with a higher advertised rate and a lower comparison rate could be a cheaper option in the long run. However, you still need to know the structure of your loan and all associated fees so compare that information, otherwise you might get burnt by hidden variable fees.


  • Research, research, research! Find out what all the essential terms mean and how different features and variables will affect your mortgage. If you're not into research or you feel overwhelmed, get a broker to help you.


  • Don't sign anything until you fully understand what you're committing to. This is where your research comes in handy; if there's a term you don't understand, ask what it means. Remember to ask about ALL fees, even the ones you don't see upfront but may come across later.

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Categories: Mortgages and Loans