A year on from Mozo’s analysis of the rising number of ‘mortgage prisoners’, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has made guideline updates to the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2019 about responsible lending to mortgage prisoners.
Coined last year, the term ‘mortgage prisoners’ refers to homeowners who are unable to refinance their home loans because they would now fail to meet lending requirements required by banks.
According to Mozo’s home loan expert, Steve Jovcevski, these are the homeowners that require the most financial assistance.
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“The sad reality is borrowers who need competitive mortgage rates to stay financially afloat are most likely to be mortgage prisoners. When a customer is essentially tied to a provider, they are at the mercy of whatever rate rise or conditions the bank chooses to impose,” he said.
However, the new guideline update from ASIC will now provide transparency and assistance to lenders and brokers to their obligations when assessing customers looking to refinance their home loans.
For instance, a borrower would be a suitable candidate for refinancing their loan if they’ve regularly made payments on time with their existing loan.
A borrower would also be eligible should the new rate result in lower repayments as well as meet their product requirements.
Although regular and on time repayments may be music to the ears of many lenders, ASIC has acknowledged that it could also “disguise circumstances of financial stress”.
“Consumers will generally prioritise repayments for a principal asset such as a home over other outgoings and may take on additional credit to meet repayments (e.g. by using a credit card),” the Regulatory Guide states.
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To combat this, the regulatory body has recommended that lenders and brokers obtain a repayment history of at least 12 months and that they make themselves aware of any:
Signs of financial stress, such as credit card delinquencies or missing utility repayments
Signs of financial stability, such as paying their credit balance in full
Refinancing your home loan could make a massive difference to your monthly repayments and more importantly save you thousands over the life of your loan, so if you’re interested to find out if you could be getting a better deal on your home loan, check out our home loan comparison tool.