Unlocking the equity in your home could help you purchase another. Chief executive of property advisory firm Property Mavens used her home’s equity to buy a Preston investment property. Picture: Lawrence Pinder
WE’VE all heard of the benefits of refinancing to get a better deal on your home loan, particularly a more competitive interest rate.
But what if refinancing could also help you buy an investment property?
“Borrowers may be able to refinance their existing home loan to access equity they may have built in their property, in order to buy an investment property,” Mortgage Choice chief executive Susan Mitchell said.
Refinancing with the aim of buying an investment property could allow borrowers to grow their wealth, according to Ms Mitchell, as, generally speaking, property was considered a safe asset class in Australia with decent returns over the long term.
“CoreLogic found that over the 10 years to June 2018, national dwelling values increased by over 40 per cent, a good return on investment,” she said.
But she cautioned there were a number of costs associated with refinancing, so it was important borrowers made an informed decision before jumping in.
The nuts and bolts
So, how does refinancing using equity work?
The Successful Investor managing director Michael Sloan explained that lenders would typically lend you 80 per cent of the market value of your home, less the debt you still owed against it.
“This is your usable equity as banks hold some back as security,” he said.
“So, say, for example, you have a $500,000 property and a $200,000 loan. Your usable equity will be $200,000,” he said.
As to what value investment property you could buy, Mr Sloan said a simple rule of thumb was to multiply your usable equity by four.
“But remember that one of the risks of property investing is spending too much,” he said.
“You need to buy well below the median house price ($742,000 in Melbourne, according to CoreLogic), in fact you shouldn’t be within $200,000 of it.”
Ms Mitchell said the figure depended on how much a lender determined a borrower could afford to repay.
“Available equity is important but the key factor a lender needs to consider is how much a borrower can afford,” she said.
“If a borrower does not have additional capacity to repay a proposed new loan, they may not be able to borrow, irrespective of how much equity they may hold,” she said.
Where do I sign?
And there’s the rub: having equity in your home is not a guarantee you’ll be able to access it.
“You can have a million dollars of equity but if you don’t satisfy the institution’s lending criteria, they are not going to loan you any money,” Mr Sloan said.
“The bottom line is they will take everything into consideration: for example, how many children you have, as the more you have the less you can borrow, your work situation and how much you spend on everything from your daily coffee to the tyres on your car.”
Lenders have also tightened their assessment procedures as a result of recent regulatory measures, such as The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) imposing a 10 per cent benchmark in growth on investment lending last year.
This was introduced in a bid to curb activity in the housing market, Ms Mitchell said.
“These regulatory measures have resulted in lenders increasing their scrutiny of a borrower’s ability to service a loan,” she said.
“When deciding if an applicant can afford a mortgage, a lender will consider a borrower’s available ongoing income and from this allow for existing debt commitments and living expenses,” she said.
“Their decision will also factor in a buffer for potential increases in interest rates.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Ms Mitchell advised that borrowers could overcome the increased scrutiny by getting “financially fit”.
“Get out of debt, spend your money wisely and adopt a disciplined savings strategy to show lenders you can service a loan,” she said.
Air Mutual director Damien Lawler advised would-be investors to consult an independent broker who could access a range of lenders, which might have varying assessment procedures.
“Everyone is talking about the banks tightening up – which they are – but there are banks, particularly the smaller, tier-two banks, who are still lending,” he said.
And finally …
Mr Sloan said his No.1 piece of advice for would-be property investors was to play it safe and to have some funds in reserve if things go wrong.
“You should never buy (another) property if you have no extra money available to you after you settle, so you need to have a buffer. And protect what you are building with income protection and life insurance, if you have a partner,” he said.
Luxury Noosa home fetches $8m as buyers rush to cash in
INTERSTATE buyers lusting after the Noosa lifestyle are forking out millions for waterfront properties, as they rush to cash out of Sydney and Melbourne’s flagging housing markets.
INTERSTATE buyers lusting after the idyllic Noosa lifestyle are forking out millions for waterfront estates, as they rush to cash out of Sydney and Melbourne’s flagging housing markets.
The ink has just dried on the purchase of an ultra luxurious, waterfront home in Noosa Heads for a cool $8 million in one of the biggest settlements in the resort town so far this year.
Selling agent Adam Watts of Century 21 Conolly Hay Group said the four-bedroom, four-bathroom Hamptons style property, with its own private jetty, at 45 Witta Circlehad just settled after selling to an expat to use as a holiday home.
Mr Watts said interstate and international inquiry for Noosa’s prestige market was strong, with many people wanting to move there for the lifestyle — not just to buy a holiday home.
A luxurious house on the waterways of Noosa Sound has also just sold for $5.75 million to a Melbourne buyer planning to retire in the sunshine state.
Selling agent Nic Hunter of Tom Offermann Real Estate said another two, older-style properties had gone under contract in the same street at the weekend for around the $4 million mark each.
And down the road in Sunrise Beach, another four bedder on the beachfront has just been signed for $4.2 million.
Mr Hunter said the buyer of 27 Mossman Court had previously owned a holiday villa in Noosa, but decided it was time to move there for good.
“There are five bedrooms, so plenty of room for all the family to come and visit,” Mr Hunter said.
“He wants to enjoy fishing out on the jetty with the grandkids.”
Mr Hunter said the increase in interstate migration to Queensland was being felt strongly in the Noosa region, with buyers snapping up properties on the water with proximity to Hastings Street and room to park a boat.
“It’s a big trend going on here at the moment,” he said.
“The higher-end, lifestyle seekers are fuelling the market — mostly from interstate.”
The latest Herron Todd White property market outlook reveals expat buyers benefiting from the weaker Australian dollar are looking to the Sunshine Coast as Sydney and Melbourne investors feel the effects of a softening market.
The report cites proximity to the beach as a driving factor for purchasers, which was expected to continue in 2019.
HTW expects the prestige markets in Noosa to continue to see “some good activity this year on the back of some record sales in 2018, but it may be impacted by the slowdown in confidence in the Sydney and Melbourne markets.
Originally published as Cool $8m for Noosa dream home
Aussie hotspots enjoying a sudden property boom
Property prices across the country saw their steepest fall in 15 years in 2018, bringing them back to 2016 levels in what has been a housing downturn like no other.
But it’s not bad news everywhere – while investors shy away from Sydney and Melbourne, there are some hotspots which are enjoying a sudden property market boom, according to news.com.au.
The South East and Gold Coast regions are seeing the most buying activity, with Brisbane, Moreton Bay, the Sunshine Coast and Ipswich booming along with the Gold Coast, Tugun and Burleigh Heads.
Unsurprisingly Hobart is the strongest property market, although activity has spread beyond the inner city and into the middle and outer rings, while Launceston has also recorded solid interest.
The entire South Australian capital is booming, although most activity is happening in the inner city and Adelaide Hills.
New South Wales
While many investors have deserted Sydney, areas such as Paddington and Winston Hills and the nearby Central Coast are doing well.
Other booming areas are further north in Tweed Heads and Byron Bay.
View from the experts
Daniel Walsh of investment buyer’s agency Your Property Your Wealth, told news.com.au that investment activity has now firmly shifted to Queensland.
“We’re seeing rising demand particularly in the housing sector in southeast Queensland where yields are high and jobs are increasing due to the amount of government expenditure around infrastructure which is attracting families to the Sunshine State,” he said.
“With Brisbane’s population growth at 1.6 per cent and surrounding areas like Moreton Bay at 2.2 per cent, the Sunshine Coast at 2.7 per cent and Ipswich at 3.7 per cent, we are forecasting that Brisbane will be the standout performer over the next three to five years.”
Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee agreed, telling news.com.au Sydney investors especially had started to turn their attention north.
“Interest is strong in the Gold Coast across the board although there’s more action on the south side in places like Tugun and Burleigh Heads,” she said.
She added there was also a notable trend towards Tasmania, Adelaide and pockets of NSW such as Tweed Heads and Byron Bay.
Adelaide has also been flagged as finally booming after recently hitting the highest median house price ever recorded, largely driven by jobs and economic growth off the back of defence contracts, the announcement of the new Australian Space Agency and other investment in the area.
“Inner Adelaide, beachside and the Adelaide Hills tend to have the most activity but there’s also quite a lot of rental demand in low-cost suburbs so we’re expecting to see a bit more investment there in those really cheap suburbs over the next 12 months,” Conisbee said.
“There you can get houses for $250,000 so for an investor, it’s a relatively low cost in terms of outlay and the area is seeing really strong rental demand which means you’re more than likely to get tenants, so for investors it’s a really attractive area,” she said.
One in five homeowners will struggle with rate rise of less than 0.5%
ONE in five Australians are walking such a fine mortgage tightrope that they could lose their homes if interest rates rise by even 0.5 per cent.
Our love affair with property has pushed Australia’s residential housing market to an eye-watering value of $6.2 trillion.
But as we scramble over each other to snap up property while interest rates are at historic lows, we have gotten ourselves into a bit of a pickle. We might not actually be able to afford funding our affair.
An analysis, based on extensive surveys of 26,000 Australian households, compiled by Digital Finance Analytics, examined how much headroom households have to rising rates, taking account of their income, size of mortgage, whether they have paid ahead, and other financial commitments. And the results are distressing.
It showed that around 20 per cent — that’s one in five homeowners — would find themselves in mortgage difficulty if interest rates rose by 0.5 per cent or less. An additional 4 per cent would be troubled by a rise between 0.5 per cent and one per cent.
Almost half of homeowners (42 per cent) would find themselves under financial pressure if home loan interest rates were to increase from their average of 4.5 per cent today to the long term average of 7 per cent.
“This is important because we now expect mortgage rates to rise over the next few months, as higher funding costs and competitive dynamics come into pay, and as regulators bear down on lending standards,” Digital Finance Analytics wrote.
The major banks have already started increasing their home loan rates this year, despite the market broadly expecting the Reserve Bank to keep the cash rate steady at 1.5 per cent this year.
Just this week NAB upped a number of its owner-occupied and investment fixed rate loans.
“There are a range of factors that influence the funding that NAB — and all Australian banks — source, so we can provide home loans to our customers,” NAB Chief Operating Officer, Antony Cahill, said of the announcement.
“The cost of providing our fixed rate home loans has increased over recent months.”
So as interest rates rise and leave mortgage holders in its dust, it leaves a huge section of society, and our economy, exposed and at risk.
NOT TERRIBLY SURPRISING
Martin North, Principal of Digital Finance Analytics, said the results are concerning, albeit not surprising.
“If you look at what people have been doing, people have been buying into property because they really believe that it is the best investment. Property prices are rising and interest rates are very low, which means they are prepared to stretch as far as they can to get into the market,” Mr North told news.com.au.
But the widespread assumption that interest rates will remain at historic lows is a disaster waiting to happen, especially in an environment where wage growth is stagnant.
“If you go back to 2005, before the GFC, people got out of jail because their incomes grew a lot faster than house prices, and therefore mortgage costs. But the trouble is that this time around we are not seeing any evidence of real momentum in income growth,” Mr North said.
“My concern is a lot of households are quite close to the edge now — they are not going to get out of jail because their incomes are going to rise. We are in a situation where interest rates are likely to rise irrespective of what the RBA does … There has already been movement up.”
Australia’s wages grew at the slowest pace on record in the three months to September 2016, according to the latest Wage Price Index released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
And as a result Australia’s debt-to-income ratio is astronomical. The ratio of household debt to disposable income has almost tripled since 1988, from 64 per cent to 185 per cent, according to the latest AMP. NATSEM Income and Wealth report.
What this means is that many Australian households are highly indebted, thanks in large part to the property market, without the income growth to pay it down.
“The ratio of debt to income is as high as it’s ever been in Australia and there are some households that are very, very exposed,” Mr North said.
THE YOUNG AND RICH MOST AT RISK
This finding will come as a surprise: young affluent homeowners are the most at risk — it is not just a problem with struggling families on the urban fringe. When it comes to this segment of the market, around 70 per cent would be in difficulty with a 0.5 per cent or less rise. If rates were to hike 3 per cent, bringing them to around the long term average of 7 per cent, nine in ten young affluent homeowners would feel the pressure.
“It is not necessarily the ones you think would be caught. And that’s because they are actually more able to get the bigger mortgage because they’ve got the bigger income to support it.
“They have actually extended themselves very significantly to get that mortgage — they have bought in an area where the property prices are high, they have got a bigger mortgage, they have got a higher LVR [loan-to-valuation ratio] mortgage and they have also got lot of other commitments. They are usually the ones with high credit card debts and a lifestyle that is relatively affluent. They are not used to handling tight budgets and watching every dollar.”
And while the younger wealthy segment of the market being most at risk might not be of that much importance compared to other segments, Mr North said what is concerning is the intense focus on this market.
“Any household group that is under pressure is a problem for the broader economy because if these people are under pressure they are not going to be spending money on retail and the broader economy,” Mr North told news.com.au.
“The banks tend to focus in on what they feel are the lower risk segments and the young affluent sector has actually been quite a target for the lending community in the last 18 months. Be that investment properties or first time owner-occupied properties, my point is there is more risk in that particular sector than perhaps the industry recognises.”
TOUGHER HOME LOAN RESTRICTIONS NEEDED
Now an argument is mounting that Australian banks need to toughen up their approach to home lending.
“I think we have got a situation where the information that is being captured by the lenders is still not robust enough. I am seeing quite often lenders willing to lend what I would regard as relatively sporty bets … I’m questioning whether the underwriting standards are tight enough,” Mr North said.
This includes accepting financial help from relatives for a deposit, a growing trend among first home buyers.
“The other thing that I have discovered in my default analysis is that those who have got help from the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ to buy their first property are nearly twice as likely to end up in difficulty … It potentially opens them to more risk later because they haven’t had the discipline of saving.”
News.com.au contacted several banks for comment on whether they think a rethink of their underwriting standards is needed. Only one lender, Commonwealth Bank, agreed to comment, but remained vague on the topic.
“In line with our responsible lending commitments, we constantly review and monitor our loan portfolio to ensure we are maintaining our prudent lending standards and meeting our customers’ financial needs. Buffers and minimum floor rates are used when assessing loan serviceability so it is affordable for customers,” a CBA spokesman said in an emailed statement.
But Mr North said something needs to be done before we find ourselves in a property and economic downturn.
“I’m assuming that with the capital growth we have seen in the property market, it will allow people who get into significant difficulty to be able to get out, however, it’s the feedback concern that I’ve got.
“If you have got a lot of people in the one area struggling with the same situation, you might see property prices begin to slip. If we get the property price slip, and we get unemployment rising and interest rates rising at the same time, we have that perfect storm which would create quite a significant wave of difficulty.
“We need to be thinking now about how to deal with higher interest rates down the track. We can’t just say it will be fine because it won’t be,” he told news.com.au.
Originally Published: http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/
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