New home loan approvals fall but refinancing is on the rise

The number of home loan approvals slipped 4.8% in April to $18.6 billion, according to recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the largest month-on-month decline since May 2015

Low confidence, fragile finances, and outright bans on auctions and open home inspections saw mortgage approvals fall by 5% to $13.7 billion for owner occupiers, and 4.2% to $4.8 billion for investors.

However, the ABS noted that the overall drop in lending activity was tempered by a backlog of applications from March, which took longer than usual to process due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak. 

Momentum has slowed for first home buyers too. Though they make up around a third of all owner occupied home loan commitments, mortgage approvals among the cohort pulled back by 3.8%. 

While the fall in new commitments was smaller than expected, lending activity is expected to remain depressed in the months ahead as the current economic crisis weighs on households’ finances and appetite for debt.

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But things haven’t been so downbeat for existing mortgage holders, who are taking advantage of record low interest rates to switch to better deals. Over the month, $7.9 billion of owner occupier home loans were refinanced, an increase of 50% from last year.

The current rate setting has fueled intense competition among lenders. Before the RBA cut official interest rates back in March, the average variable rate on a $400,000 loan (owner occupier, 80% LVR) sat at 3.68% p.a. By June that number had fallen to 3.43% p.a.

Fixed rates have seen an even sharper drop. In March, the average 2-year fixed home loan rate was 3.14% p.a. It now sits at 2.59% p.a. — a difference of 55 basis points.

If you’re paying too much on your mortgage and are looking to refinance to a cheaper loan, be sure to visit our home loan comparison page for an overview of what’s available, or browse the selection below.

Refinance home loans - last updated 13 August 2022

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  • Smart Booster Home Loan

    2 Year Discounted Variable Rate, Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, <80% LVR

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    3.60% p.a.variable for 24 months and then 4.00% p.a. variable
    3.96% p.a.

    Already includes July RBA rate increase. New super low introductory rate home loan for two years. Min 20% deposit. No monthly or ongoing fees. Fast settlement times. Mozo award-winning online lender. Friendly, local Australian based team.

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  • Unloan Variable

    Owner Occupier, Refinance Only

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    3.14% p.a. variable
    3.06% p.a.

    For refinancers only. Built by CommBank, the Unloan is the first home loan with an increasing discount (conditions apply) for borrowers. No application or banking fees. No monthly account keeping or early exit fees. Apply in as little as 10 minutes.

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  • PAYG Home Loan

    Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest, LVR<80%

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    3.29% p.a. variable
    3.33% p.a.

    Low variable rate. Ideal for new home buyers or refinancers. Unlimited additional repayments. Unlimited free redraw. Application completely online. Optional 100% offset can be added for $120 p.a.. 20% deposit required.

    Details
  • Celebrate Variable Home Loan

    <60% LVR, Owner Occupier, Principal & Interest

    interest rate
    comparison rate
    Initial monthly repayment
    3.79% p.a. variable
    3.79% p.a.

    Fast and efficient online application. Automatic discounts as loan is paid down. Free extra repayments and redraw facility. Zero fees. Min 40% deposit required.

    Details

* 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, loan amount and term entered. 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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