Home loan checklist: How to make sure your money is ready to refinance

Woman boxing by her refinanced house

Refinancing a home loan has both become harder and more necessary for many Australian borrowers, thanks to recent Reserve Bank rate hikes. But if you’ve asked yourself whether you should refinance and decided, “Absolutely, let’s do this,” then it’s essential to get your finances in order. 

Applying for a home loan is much the same the second time around as the first. When you applied for your initial home loan, you needed to show that you had good credit with a low debt-to-income ratio, among other factors, to qualify. When you refinance, you’ll need to check all these numbers again to ensure you’re eligible.

But the catch? Your financial situation has (most likely) changed since your initial mortgage application. Maybe your credit score has taken a dive, or you’ve had a kid or switched careers since your first home loan. As a rule of thumb, mortgage experts recommend preparing your finances at least three months in advance before refinancing.

So how can you get ready to refinance? Let’s run down a basic checklist.

Get your credit reports

Woman happy about her credit report

To check your credit score, retrieve credit reports from Australia's three major reporting bureaus – Experian, Illion, and Equifax. If there are any errors in your report, get them fixed ASAP. 

You want to aim for a good or higher score to successfully refinance, though this range can vary between credit bodies. But if your credit score has really taken a hit, don’t panic. It’s totally possible to refinance with bad credit.

Consolidate your debts

Hand scans credit card by folders about her debts

While you’re looking at your credit score, take stock of how many debts and liabilities you have. More debt can raise your debt-to-income ratio and make you look like a red flag to lenders

Instead, clear and consolidate as much debt as you can. Some first steps to take include lowering the limits on your credit cards and paying off any Buy Now Pay Later or personal loan debts. A debt consolidation loan may help, but do your research and talk to a financial adviser first.

Watch your spending and set a budget

Woman thinks about her spending beside a judgy piggy bank

Next up on the refinance prep checklist? Watch your spending and set a budget. Lenders like to see good money habits from refinancers, which can include demonstrating genuine savings, consistently paying expenses, and limiting reckless or frivolous spending. 

While you don’t have to live cheaply to show good money habits, the goal is to prove to a lender that you’re a responsible borrower who doesn’t take on more than you can afford.

Show three months of financial stability

Woman looks at watch by calendar because she has three months to show financial stability

Why do mortgage experts recommend preparing to refinance three months in advance? Because three months is what most lenders consider consistent financial behaviour. 

For example, if you just started a new career, showing three months of paychecks tells them you have a steady income. If you’ve started a new budget, showing three months of said budget in action lets a lender know you mean business. 

Three months is a good amount of time for all parts of your refinance application, but the more good history you have, the better. If you’re considering possibly refinancing your mortgage this year, start as soon as you can. Fortune favours the prepared.

Compare home loans and talk to mortgage lenders

Couple talks to a mortgage lender about comparing home loans

Different home loan lenders will have different requirements for refinancers. For example, Westpac, CBA, and NAB recently lowered their serviceability test requirements for specific refinancers because of how high interest rates have flown. Unloan’s refinance-only home loans require you to have at least 80% LVR on loan balances up to $3 million. 

So if you’re thinking about refinancing your home loan, compare offers on the market to see which ones you like best and what you need to do to qualify. Many lenders will have loan specialists available for you to talk to if you’re unsure. 

Compare refinance home loans in the table below.

Compare refinance home loans - last updated 24 April 2024

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    Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, LVR <90%

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    6.01% p.a. variable
    6.14% p.a.

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    Fixed, Investment, Interest Only, LVR <70%

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    6.49% p.a.
    fixed 2 years
    6.56% p.a.

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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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* 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.

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