APRA to change home loan assessment guidelines, but is it for the best?

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has made a proposal to adjust current serviceability assessments banks perform when sorting through prospective home loan borrowers.

When applying for a home loan, APRA expected banks to perform assessments to gauge whether a borrower would be able to meet their repayments if interest rates were higher than they are now - this was done by using a minimum interest rate of at least 7.00%, many banks currently use a rate of 7.25%.

Under the proposal, banks would be able to set their own minimum interest rate floor in serviceability assessments.

The regulatory body first introduced the assessment in December 2014 as an attempt to encourage responsible lending standards and limit excessive borrowing during a time when interest rates were low and household debt was high.

But while those issues may still be around, APRA Chair, Wayne Byres, explained that other changes in the property market led to the proposed removal.

“Although many of those risk factors remain - high prices, low interest rates, high household debt, and subdued income growth - two more recent developments have led us to review the appropriateness of the interest rate floor,” he said.

“With interest rates at record lows, and likely to remain at historically low levels for some time, the gap between the 7% floor and actual rates paid has become quite wide in some cases - possibly unnecessarily so.”

“In addition, the introduction of differential pricing in recent years - with a substantial gap emerging between interest rates for owner-occupiers with principal-and-interest loans on the one hand, and investors with interest-only loans on the other - has meant that the merits of a single floor rate across all products have been substantially reduced.”

A step in the right (or wrong) direction

Should the changes go ahead, Byres believes it would provide banks with greater flexibility when assessing potential customers as well as maintain an appropriate measure to determine a borrower's ability to meet monthly repayments.

However, Mozo’s Product Data Manager, Peter Marshall has expressed hesitancy toward APRA’s proposal.

“The serviceability assessment of 7% has always been recommended as a guide to banks when assessing home loan applications, which is probably a higher hurdle than required,” he said.

“Lowering this rate is a good idea, but I don’t think it’s an appropriate decision to put into play right now - it could be better to implement in a year once the property market subsides and stays steady.”

Marshall went on to explain his fears about borrowers biting off more than they can chew and that Aussie customers should be doing their homework thoroughly before heading to the bank.

“There’s been a lot of effort put into reigning in excessive lending and while this proposed change hasn’t yet come into effect, if it does, it may prompt buyers to borrow more and while that might be fine now you never know what the future holds,” he explained.

“Borrowers need to think seriously about what they’re getting into - you need to know whether you’re able to keep up with your repayments if rates rose or if your circumstances changed.”

If you’re a homeowner, find out if your budget could handle a rate rise by taking our home loan rate change calculator for a spin. Or if you’re ready to take the plunge and buy your first home, head on over to our home loan comparison tool.

Home loan comparisons on Mozo

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Last updated 22 June 2024 Important disclosures and comparison rate warning*
  • Basic Home Loan

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR<60%
    • Principal & Interest
    Interest rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.16 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,043
    Go to site

    Enjoy a low rate home loan with $0 application fee and $0 ongoing fees. Flexibility to split your loan and set different repayment types. Fee free redraw from your loan using online banking. Flexible ways to repay. 40% Deposit required.

  • Unloan Variable

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR <80%
    Interest rate
    5.99 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    5.90 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $2,995
    Go to site

    Built by CommBank, the Unloan is the first home loan with an increasing discount (conditions apply) for borrowers. No application or banking fees. No monthly account keeping or early exit fees. Apply online in minutes.

  • Offset Home Loan

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR<60%
    • Principal & Interest
    Interest rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.39 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,043
    Go to site

    Ability to open up to 10 offset accounts per loan account. Fast online application. Linked Debit Mastercard® with fee-free access at ATMs across Australia. Package a credit card with your home loan and the annual card fee will be waived (T&Cs apply). 40% deposit required.

  • Unloan Variable

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR <80%
    Interest rate
    5.99 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    5.90 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $2,995
    Go to site

    Built by CommBank, the Unloan is the first home loan with an increasing discount (conditions apply) for borrowers. No application or banking fees. No monthly account keeping or early exit fees. Apply online in minutes.

  • Discount Variable Home Loan

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR<70%
    Interest rate
    5.99 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.01 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $2,995
    Go to site

    A low rate home loan for owner-occupiers packed with great features including unlimited extra repayments, free online redraw, no application or monthly admin fees. Rate will vary depending on LVR. Winner of a Mozo Experts Choice 2024 Low Cost Home Loan Award^

  • Variable Home Loan 90

    • Principal and Interest
    • LVR <90%
    Interest rate
    6.04 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.06 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,011
    Go to site

    Affordable home loan rate for buyers or refinancers. No monthly or ongoing fees. Option to add an offset for 0.10%. Access to savings with unlimited redraws available. Minimum 10% deposit required.

  • The Better Home Loan Special Offer

    • Owner Occupier
    • Principal & Interest
    • LVR<80%
    Interest rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,043
    Go to site

    Enjoy a variable rate home loan with a bunch of features from Police Credit Union. Make extra repayments at any time without penalty. No monthly, annual or upfront fees. Free online redraw. Minimum 20% deposit. Qualifying criteria applies. Minimum loan amount is 200K. For new customers only. Mozo Experts Choice Home Lender Credit Union of the Year 2023.

  • Basic Home Loan

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR<60%
    • Principal & Interest
    Interest rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.16 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,043
    Go to site

    Enjoy a low rate home loan with $0 application fee and $0 ongoing fees. Flexibility to split your loan and set different repayment types. Fee free redraw from your loan using online banking. Flexible ways to repay. 40% Deposit required.

  • Mortgage Simplifier

    • LVR<80%
    • Owner Occupier
    • Principal & Interest
    Interest rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.17 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,043

    Get a competitive variable rate with ING’s Mortgage Simplifier. Free extra repayments, no monthly or annual fees. Freedom to make free extra repayments or redraws.

  • Offset Home Loan

    • Owner Occupier
    • LVR<60%
    • Principal & Interest
    Interest rate
    6.14 % p.a.
    Variable
    Comparison rate
    6.39 % p.a.
    Initial monthly repayment
    $3,043
    Go to site

    Ability to open up to 10 offset accounts per loan account. Fast online application. Linked Debit Mastercard® with fee-free access at ATMs across Australia. Package a credit card with your home loan and the annual card fee will be waived (T&Cs apply). 40% deposit required.

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* WARNING: This comparison rate applies only to the example or examples given. Different amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees or early repayment fees, and cost savings such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan. The comparison rate displayed is for a secured loan with monthly principal and interest repayments for $150,000 over 25 years.

** Initial monthly repayment figures are estimates only, based on the advertised rate. You can change the loan amount and term in the input boxes at the top of this table. Rates, fees and charges and therefore the total cost of the loan may vary depending on your loan amount, loan term, and credit history. Actual repayments will depend on your individual circumstances and interest rate changes.

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Home Loan Awards

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