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

Ceyda Erem

23 Nov 2017

redactor/hero-images/196/interest_only_loans_content.jpg

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. Advertiser disclosure.

  • loans.com.au

    1.99% p.a.variable for 12 months and then 2.48% p.a.

    2.47% p.a.

    $1234

    Product details Close details
    Smart Booster Home Loan

    A super low introductory rate home loan with no monthly or ongoing fees. Unlimited free redraws and unlimited additional repayments to help you build your equity and own your home sooner. Multiple loan splits available. (Rates revert after introductory period ends). 20% minimum deposit required.

    • $0.00

    • $0.00

    • yes - free

    • yes - free

    • Optional - with 0.10% additional interest

    • $520

    • 1.99% p.a.variable for 12 months and then 2.48% p.a.

    • 2.47% 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 Booster Home Loan

  • UBank
    Mozo Expert Choice Badge

    p.a.

    2.27% p.a.

    $1234

    Product details Close details
    UHomeLoan

    $0 fees and easy application with the Mozo Experts Choice Home Lender Bank of the Year.^ Choose between weekly, fortnightly or monthly repayments. 3 year fixed rates are for new Owner Occupier Principal & Interest loans.

    • $0.00

    • $0.00

    • yes - free up to $20,000 p.a.

    • no

    • no

    • $395

    • p.a.

    • 2.27% p.a.

    • $395

    • 80.00%

    • $100,000

    • $2,000,000

    • Fixed

    • Principal & Interest

    • Owner Occupier

    • Weekly, Fortnightly, Monthly

    • $395 Establishment fee waived for fixed rate loans that settle by 31 March 2020.

    Read our Mozo Review to learn more about the UHomeLoan

  • Athena
    Mozo Expert Choice Badge

    2.19% p.a.

    2.19% 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

    • 2.19% p.a.

    • 2.19% 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

  • Virgin Money

    p.a.

    2.73% p.a.

    $1234

    Product details Close details
    Special Offer Reward Me Fixed Rate Home Loan

    Enjoy $3,000 cashback when you refinance with Virgin Money (T&Cs apply). Additional repayments up to $10,000 per annum. Reverts to the discounted variable rate on expiry of the fixed term.

    • $10.00 monthly

    • $350.00

    • yes - up to $10,000 per annum

    • no

    • no

    • $450

    • p.a.

    • 2.73% p.a.

    • $450

    • 80.00%

    • $300,000

    • -

    • Fixed

    • Principal & Interest

    • Owner Occupier

    • Weekly, Fortnightly, Monthly

    • $3,000 cashback for new borrowings of at least $300,000 with applications made by 22 Jan 2021 and settled by 23 April 2021.

    Read our Mozo Review to learn more about the Special Offer Reward Me Fixed Rate Home Loan

  • Macquarie

    p.a.

    2.53% p.a.

    $1234

    Product details Close details
    Basic Home Loan

    Flexible loan structure – create up to six loan accounts with different rate and repayment types. Free redraw from your loan using Macquarie Online.

    • $0.00

    • $400.00

    • yes - free

    • yes - free

    • no

    • $0

    • p.a.

    • 2.53% p.a.

    • $0

    • 80.00%

    • $150,000

    • $750,000

    • Fixed

    • Principal & Interest

    • Owner Occupier

    • Monthly

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

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Home loans Awards

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.