Standard variable rate loans
These loans are the most common type available. The variable rate loan offers more features and flexibility than the basic or “no frills” loan, so the rate is usually slightly higher. The extra options (for example a redraw facility, the option to split between fixed and variable, extra repayments and portability) should be taken into account when choosing your type of variable loan. Repayments will vary as interest rates fluctuate.
Fixed rate loans
These loans are set at a fixed interest rate for a specified period (usually one to five years). The advantage of allowing you to organise your finances and repayments without the risk of rising interest rates is offset by the disadvantage of not benefiting from a drop in rates. At the end of the term all fixed loans automatically revert to the applicable variable rate. At this stage you have the option to lock in another fixed rate for a new term, switch to variable or go for a loan where you split with a percentage fixed and the remainder variable. However these loans may have limited features and lack the flexibility of 100% variable loans. There may be early exit fees and limited ability to make extra payments.
These loans combine the features of various products and can have the security of a fixed rate loan and the benefits of a variable loan. They can also combine a standard term loan and a line of credit. For example part of the loan can be borrowed at a fixed interest rate with the remainder on a variable rate. These loans can be split into as many products as you want to reflect your personal circumstances.
An offset account is a savings account attached to your loan account. Money in this account is offset against the loan amount thereby reducing interest payable. Significant savings are made by reducing compound interest with the use of these accounts.
Other advantages of an offset account include being able to pay off your home loan faster than the repayment schedule demands and being able to redraw money if the need arises.
Equity line of credit loans
These loans are a great way to access the equity in your home to use for things like home renovations, investments or other personal purchases. Repayments on a line of credit loan are determined by the interest rate applicable at that time. If you have sufficient equity in your home and your current loan structure doesn’t allow for withdrawing your equity, you will need to make a separate application for a line of credit loan. You have the added advantage of being able to make unlimited deposits/repayments as your repayments are not set. You must check the conditions of these loans as they are sometimes more expensive than standard products.
Professional home loan packages
These loans are offered to provide an all-in-one home loan package. They offer interest rate and fee savings on your home loan, credit card and transaction accounts. Some lenders also waive the annual fees for your credit cards. An annual fee ranging from $120 to $395 is usually applicable on these loans.
Professional packages can also offer amazing flexibility, with some lending institutions willing to waive product switching fees when changing from a variable to a fixed rate or converting a principal and interest type loan to an interest only loan.
A bridging loan may be necessary to cover the financial gap when buying one property before the existing one is sold. This finance is generally secured against your property as you are utilising the equity in your existing property. Usually bridging loans are short term and more expensive than other types of loans.
Loan consolidation and refinancing
Loan consolidation is where you are able to combine multiple debts (like credit card and personal loans) into a single loan with one repayment. The lower overall interest rate provides the advantage of using your home loan to consolidate debts.