Could an investment property be your pathway to homeownership?

A couple stand on the front lawn of their new investment property, one pointing towards the front door

With interest rates and national property prices trending higher, prospective homeowners may need to consider alternative pathways to getting their first home loan

The challenges have certainly mounted in 2023. 

Lenders are already announcing rate increases in response to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) 25bps cash rate increase in May and property prices across the country rose 0.14% in April, according to the PropTrack Home Price Index, marking the fourth consecutive monthly rise. 

But despite these pressures, there are still ways for would-be buyers to get their foot in the door.

Building equity in an investment property: the long game 

While it’s possible to use home equity to buy an investment property, the process also works in reverse – using the equity built up by paying off an investment property to help fund the purchase of an owner-occupied home. 

The basic concept goes that as the investment home loan is paid off, the owner gains equity, which can then be used to put a downpayment on another property.  

Of course, the problems of property prices and rising interest rates still exist for those with their investor hats on. This is where buyers need to get creative – and strategy matters. 

Yes, buying an investment property takes a fair bit of research and carries some risks. The end goal for many property investors is to have the market value of their property grow, thus adding equity or making it easier to sell for a profit. 

One common tactic is to go beyond your preferred area, which we’ll get into below.

Consider investing away from where you would usually choose to live

An aerial shot of the coastal town of Port Macquarie in NSW.

If the areas you’re interested in are typically pricier, meaning it’s hard to get a foot on the property ladder there, consider investing somewhere cheaper. 

This could be as simple as searching for a place a few suburbs away, looking at regional towns, or even investing in property in another state.

Take South Australia, for instance. Adelaide recorded 5.23% annual growth, and the rest of SA skyrocketed with a 10.28% growth rate over the past year, according to PropTrack. That’s enough of a difference that it demands some extra study.

The boost in SA’s regional areas can be attributed in part to the popularity of the southeast’s  Limestone Coast, whose suburbs boasted a combined 15.7% yearly growth rate, according to CoreLogic’s February Regional Market Update. 

Western Australia recorded growth too, with the state’s home prices trending up 5.58% over the last year, and the capital, Perth, growing a solid 3.11% annually. Again, the difference is noteworthy.

The point is, despite the national home price growth rate falling 3.14% over the past year, according to PropTrack, there are some areas outside of the major cities, or in other states, that experience upticks in home values, presenting an opportunity for investors to grow their equity.

Units present a lower financial barrier to entry than houses 

One of the main choices property investors (and homeowners) need to make is whether to purchase a unit or a house. 

Units are often the cheaper option, with the median value of a unit in capital cities nationally at $631,000, compared to the median value of houses at $878,000, according to PropTrack. 

The lower financial barrier to entry can mean cheaper mortgage repayments and a quicker path to gaining equity. Of course, it does depend on the area you’re purchasing in and the way the market is moving. 

If we get more specific, a unit in the Top End (Darwin) has a median value of $386,000, for example. Compare that to somewhere like Sydney, where median unit prices are over $770,000. So the difference is stark. 

Still, you’ll need to consider the long-term growth of investing in either of those cities: is there demand? Demand is crucial property because ‘ongoing demand’ will help keep the value of your property high.

A row of modern apartment blocks by a green, grassy park.

Make sure you have an investment home loan in your corner that works for your needs 

There are plenty of choices out there when it comes to investment home loans. So, making sure that your loan has an interest rate you can afford and one that’s fit for purpose is an important thing to work out.

While loan options like an interest-only loan may be attractive to many property investors, if you’re trying to build equity in order to purchase your own home, it’s likely not the right option for you. This is because interest-only loans don’t pay down the value of the home (the principal amount borrowed), which is where your equity comes from. 

RELATED: Investment loan features to compare 

If you’re looking to compare investment home loans, have a look at the featured products below, or check out the best home loans in Australia – the winners of the 2023 Mozo Experts Choice Home Loan Awards.

Home loan comparisons on Mozo - last updated 25 May 2024

Search promoted home loans below or do a full Mozo database search. Advertiser disclosure
  • Basic Home Loan

    Fixed, Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, LVR<70%

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    6.25% p.a.
    fixed 3 years
    6.20% p.a.

    No upfront or ongoing fees. Free extra repayments and redraw facility. Option to earn Qantas points. Min 30% deposit required. Borrow up to $750,000.

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  • Discount Variable Home Loan

    Owner Occupier, LVR<70%

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    5.99% p.a. variable
    6.01% p.a.

    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^

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  • Discounted Home Value Loan

    Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, LVR 70-80%

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    6.09% p.a. variable
    6.09% p.a.

    Enjoy competitive rates for owner occupiers. Enjoy unlimited free extra repayments. Flexibility to redraw additional payments for free. No ongoing monthly service fee. Settlement fee waived on new borrowings from $50,000 (T&Cs apply).

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  • Fixed Rate

    Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, <80% LVR

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    6.54% p.a.
    fixed 2 years
    7.10% p.a.

    Enjoy up to $3000 cashback for eligible first home buyers and $2000 cashback for refinancers on eligible home loans with the ANZ Fixed Rate Home Loan. Get the security of repayment certainty with a competitive locked in rate. No ongoing fees to pay. Offset account on 1-year fixed loans ($10/month fee applies). Interest-only payments allowed.

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  • Basic Home Loan

    Owner Occupier, LVR<60%, Principal & Interest

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    6.14% p.a. variable
    6.16% p.a.

    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.

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  • Mortgage Simplifier

    LVR<80%, Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    6.14% p.a. variable
    6.17% p.a.

    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.

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