Too many “risk flags”? New research finds interest-only borrowers are poor money managers

Ceyda Erem

23 Nov 2017

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Too many “risk flags”? New research finds interest-only borrowers are poor money managers

  • Interest-only borrowers are poor money managers, according to recent analysis from Morgan Stanley

  • Interest-only borrowers are also more likely to fall into debt, despite having an on average 40% lower home loan repayment

It’s been a tough year for interest-only borrowers with APRA’s crackdown on risky lending, but a  recent analysis from Morgan Stanley has found interest-only borrowers guilty of poor money management and a risk to financial institutions.

Reported by Domain, the research found that these borrowers were more likely to fall into debt, give up their savings if they encountered a high cost and sell their property if interest rates rose - making them a higher financial risk.

When it came to keeping higher costs under control, 53% of interest-only borrowers used their plastic or consumer finance, compared to 29% of principal and interest (P+I) borrowers.

RELATED: How I'm Saving $87 a Week (or $4,500 This Year) on My Home Loan

“Interest-only mortgage holders are saving less than P+I customers, with this gap most pronounced for owner occupiers,” said Morgan Stanley analysts.

And although interest-only loans have an on average 40% lower home loan repayment, institutions are continuing to decline applications, bringing the approval rate down from 36% to 30%.

However, given recent statements made by APRA chairman Wayne Byres, this move may still not be enough to amend mortgage risks in the market.

According to Byres, despite the number of institutions turning up the heat on potential first home buyers, there are still fears of banks lending six or more times a borrower's income - potentially adding more fuel to the ‘debt fire’.

“We would like to see the industry devote more effort to the collection of realistic living expense estimates from borrowers and give greater thought to the appropriate use and construct of benchmarks in instances where those estimates are deemed insufficient,” he said.

But Mozo’s Property Expert, Steve Jovcevski, worries that with the bank’s tighter lending criteria, interest-only borrowers could eventually find themselves in hot water.

“Borrowers who took out an interest-only loan five years ago during the property boom are now finding they can’t rollover their loan because of the change in criteria. So if they do transition over to a P+I loan, they’ll have higher repayments at around 40% higher than the I/O payment, which could result in them having to sell or refinance,” says Jovcevski.

If it’s been a while since you last looked at your home loan, there’s a good chance of a more competitive and flexible option out there. Here’s a quick look at a few refinance loan options below, or check out our home loan comparison tool for other options.  

Refinance loan options - rates updated daily

  • Promoted

    Macquarie

    2.54% p.a.

    2.81% p.a.

    $1234

    Product details Close details
    Offset Home Loan Package

    Handy offset account to help pay your home loan off sooner. Up to 10 offset accounts per loan account available. Fee free access at ATMs. Waived credit card annual fee. $0 international purchase fees.

    • $248.00 yearly

    • $400.00

    • yes - free

    • yes - free

    • yes

    • $0

    • 2.54% p.a.

    • 2.81% p.a.

    • $0

    • 70.00%

    • $150,000

    • $5,000,000

    • Variable

    • Principal & Interest

    • Owner Occupier

    • Monthly

    Read our Mozo Review to learn more about the Offset Home Loan

  • Promoted

    loans.com.au

    2.48% p.a.

    2.50% p.a.

    $1234

    Product details Close details
    Smart Home Loan 80

    A low-rate home loan that could save you thousands, with no ongoing fees plus unlimited extra repayments and free redraws. Mozo Experts Choice Low Cost Home Loan 2020.^ You'll need to be borrowing $1 million or less and have at least a 20% deposit required.

    • $0.00

    • $0.00

    • yes - free

    • yes - free

    • Optional - with 0.10% additional interest

    • $520

    • 2.48% p.a.

    • 2.50% p.a.

    • $520

    • 80.00%

    • $50,000

    • $1,000,000

    • Variable

    • Principal & Interest

    • Owner Occupier

    • Weekly, Fortnightly, Monthly

    Read our Mozo Review to learn more about the Smart Home Loan 80

  • Promoted

    HSBC

    p.a.

    2.95% p.a.

    $1234

    Product details Close details
    Fixed Rate Home Loan

    Have the security of a fixed rate for 2 years with the option to split with one of the HSBC variable Home Loans. No ongoing monthly service fees or annual fees. Mozo Experts Choice Fixed Home Loan 2020^

    • $0.00

    • $300.00

    • yes - free up to $10,000 p.a.

    • no

    • no

    • $0

    • p.a.

    • 2.95% p.a.

    • $0

    • 80.00%

    • $50,000

    • $7,500,000

    • Fixed

    • Principal & Interest

    • Owner Occupier

    • Weekly, Fortnightly, Monthly

    Read our Mozo Review to learn more about the Fixed Rate Home Loan

  • Promoted

    Athena

    2.34% p.a.

    2.34% p.a.

    $1234

    Product details Close details
    Celebrate Variable Home Loan

    Fast online application with no fees. Free extra repayments and redraw facility. Min 40% deposit. Crowned Best New Home Loan for 2020 by the Mozo Experts.^

    • $0.00

    • $0.00

    • yes - free

    • yes - free

    • no

    • $0

    • 2.34% p.a.

    • 2.34% p.a.

    • $0

    • 60.00%

    • $100,000

    • $2,000,000

    • Variable

    • Principal & Interest

    • Owner Occupier

    • Weekly, Fortnightly, Monthly

    Read our Mozo Review to learn more about the Celebrate Variable Home Loan

  • Promoted

    Homestar

    2.29% p.a.

    2.32% p.a.

    $1234

    Product details Close details
    Star Essentials Home Loan

    Low Cost Home Loan 2020 winner.^ A home loan packed with all the essentials and offering up to $1500 cashback and no ongoing fees. No Construction loans.

    • $0.00

    • $535.00

    • yes - free

    • yes - free

    • no

    • $515

    • 2.29% p.a.

    • 2.32% p.a.

    • $515

    • 80.00%

    • $150,000

    • $850,000

    • Variable

    • Principal & Interest

    • Owner Occupier

    • Weekly, Fortnightly, Monthly

    • Refinances receive up to $1,500 cashback or upfront fees waived on purchases for applications received by 31 October 2020 and settled by 31 January 2021.

    Read our Mozo Review to learn more about the Star Essentials Home Loan

*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 the amount and term you entered.

**Initial monthly repayment figures are estimates only, based on the advertised rate, and a loan of $500,000 repaid over 25 years. 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.

Things to consider when taking out a home loan 

Repayment facilities - Life is full of unpredictable events, so it’s a good to idea to have the repayment flexibility when you need it. For instance, a redraw facility allows you to withdraw any extra repayments you’ve made in the past, while a repayment holiday gives you a repayment break for a short period of time - but this does extend the lifespan of your home loan.

Fees - While you can’t escape the initial application fee, ongoing service can cost you thousands over the course of your loan. So unless you’re planning on reaping the benefits of your loan’s repayment features, you may be better off sticking to a loan with no ongoing service fees.

The interest rate - Each interest rate - variable, fixed or split - offer different features. For example, a variable rate will change over time but usually has a lower interest rate and offers repayment features, whereas a fixed rate will remain the same for a set period of time but has less features.

Mozo may receive advertising fees from the financial institutions, issuers of financial or credit products and third party advice providers that are shown on this page. These fees are based on a cost per click, cost per acquisition, or a fixed fee.