Mortgages

Fixed vs Floating: New Year, New Interest Rates?

Starting off 2019, interest rates are staying low but the Reserve Bank may have a trick up its sleeve that could have a downstream influence on the great fix versus float debate. Brendon explains.

 

There has been some post-Christmas sharpening of home loan interest rates. 

You will see a 3.99 per cent for one-year and two-year loans currently being advertised. This normally applies for "main bank", owner-occupied clients (in other words, not for low deposits or investor-only clients).

 

From an economic perspective, there doesn't seem to be any upward pressure on these rates for 2019. Interestingly enough, the only pressure that may come to bear is a potential Reserve Bank/government regulation requiring banks to hold more capital.

 

The Reserve Bank has suggested that the percentage of "money [that] banks have in hand per amount of loans outstanding" may need to increase to better protect the banking system from any economic shocks (known as capital adequacy ratios). If this is implemented, it will effectively increase banks’ running costs. Unless the shareholders are willing to take lower returns (??!!), then the customer will pay—at banks, this means increases in interest rates.

 

So, should you fix or float?

 

Securing an interest rate under four per cent isn't bad!

 

Up until now, most of our clients have been fixing for one year because that was the lowest rate and because the expectation was rates would stay low for another year, giving time to re-fix in a year for a still low rate. 

 

The only spanner in the works to this approach is the possibility of the above regulatory change, which still remains to be seen. The potential for changes introduces some uncertainty to the mix and some of our clients may choose to minimise that risk by fixing for two years, at what is now a great two-year rate.

 

Be aware that all clients won't get that exact rate, as it is case-by-case, bank-by-bank. If you have good equity, you should be getting close. Note also that everyone is different, so how long you fix your loan for may be different than the next person.

 

Also note that it is often wise to keep some flexibility. Channelling any cash surplus to your home loan in a smart way can surprise many with the difference it can make.

 

We can work that all out for you.

 

Brendon Ojala is a Registered Financial Adviser with Velocity Financial. No investment decision should be taken based on the information in this blog alone. A disclosure statement is available free of charge upon request.

Should I Refinance my Home Loan?

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By Kylie Cassidy and Brendon Ojala

 

With the banks competing for new customers and offering cash incentives, the temptation to switch banks can be rife. Brendon and Kylie ask if the switch is really worth it.

 

The first thing to note if you’re considering refinancing is that you should consider much more than just interest rates. The actual costs can vary depending on whether you have existing loans that are still fixed. There are also the non-monetary factors like finding a bank that better suits your needs or has a superior service level. These are all things to consider.

 

Turning to your mortgage broker for advice should be your first step as they can help you work out the pros and cons, in the meantime, here are four factors to get you thinking:

 

1. Does the bank suit my needs?

 

Consider the bank’s products and whether they will suit your current needs. Do you want to be able to make lump sum payments without penalty? Do you want a large revolving credit account? Or perhaps an offset product where you can use the funds across savings accounts to offset the interest on your mortgage?

 

2. Don’t get hung up on lower interest rates

 

Lower interest rates aren’t the be-all-and-end all, and often some smart budgeting coupled with the right mortgage structure can give you more than then a 0.2 per cent decrease in interest rates. We will of course, work hard to get a competitive rate from the bank, but it’s in this finer detail where your mortgage broker can add real value.

 

3. Making the switch can be messy

 

If you’re offered a cash incentive to move banks, chances are you’ll need to move your banking across to them. This means changing your APs, direct debits, salary and so on. Some banks do offer a “switching service” to make the process easier, but you may need to keep your existing account open with some cash in it, to cover any repayments or direct debits you may have forgotten about.

 

4. Costs of switching

 

Below are some costs to consider:

 

·         Potential break costs at your current bank (anywhere from zero to tens of thousands!)

·         Lawyers fees (approx. $1000-$1500)

·         Cash contribution claw backs (if your current bank offered you a cash contribution, if you move banks within a certain time frame—between two and four years—they reserve the right to ask for this cash back.

·         Discharge fees ($100-$150)

 

The new bank may offer you some cash to offset the above costs, however, it’s important to consider all of the above. The “best bank” offering the lowest rates changes all the time, so it’s important to consider your needs long term. 

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Kylie Cassidy and Brendon Ojala are Registered Financial Advisers with Velocity Financial. No investment decision should be taken based on the information in this blog alone. A disclosure statement is available free of charge upon request.

From Facebook to your Mortgage: What happens when you die?

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You’ve possibly already thought about some of the more obvious things like your house, your car and your family. But what about your bank accounts? Or even your Facebook profile? Wrapping up your whole life is not a simple task as Alex explains.

 

 

What happens to my mortgage and bank accounts when I die?

 

When you pass away the bank requires you (as the other party of the contract) to pay back lending in full before any property or money is distributed to beneficiaries.

 

All bank accounts and overdrafts are immediately stopped. Payments to the bank for interest and fees will still continue from the same account to avoid defaults. Then your estate needs to service the loans in the interim from those accounts. When you co-owned the property, the ownership can be transferred solely to the surviving owner.

 

Business accounts are a bit more tricky and these will freeze instantly as the owner of them is no longer there. If there is a partnership they will be frozen well as the partnership ended upon the passing of the other partner.

 

It is very wise to update your lawyer 

 

What about my Facebook account?

 

When you die, nothing automatically changes to your Facebook – but as soon as Facebook knows that you are no longer with us (and boy, do they know) there are a few options that you can choose:

 

1. Leave it as it is

You can, of course, leave the account as it is. This is not recommended as it means your data is guaranteed to be 100% secure.

 

2. Memorialise your account

Your loved ones can ask for your Facebook account to be memorialised by completing a memorialisation request and providing a scanned copy of the death certificate. Once the account is memorialised, no content can be altered or removed and the account is effectively locked down to eliminate any chance of being hacked. Only legacy contacts (your ‘digital executors’ can post on your behalf (for example, to give friends and family details of a memorial service). Friends and family can still post on your timeline to share memories.

 

3. Delete all data

Facebook only allows immediate family members to request all your data be deleted. They process this as a special request, and it requires scanned documentation as proof of your death. You can download all your Facebook data at any time if you wish to keep back ups.

 

Of course, that’s not even the half of it!

 

Come and have a chat to us or make an appointment with your lawyer to talk about it more. We’ll help you take charge by working out what might be the best option for you – and getting it down in writing.

 

Alex Barendregt is a Registered Financial Adviser with Velocity Financial. No investment decision should be taken based on the information in this blog alone. A Disclosure Statement is available free of charge upon request