Fixed home loan rates
To fix or not to fix? That is the question posed by many home buyers across Australia. So to help you decide whether a fixed or variable interest rate is your borrowing match, we've compiled this quick guide that runs through the benefits of a fixed interest rate and the traps to watch out for. You can also use the above table to compare fixed rate home loans quickly and easily.
Fixed rate loans, what do you need to know?
A fixed home loan rates, as the name suggests, is a home loan that has an interest rate that is set for a fixed period, such as three years. During this period your repayments will be locked in, making it easier to budget and giving you peace of mind that you won't have to factor in any unexpected rate changes that could impact your monthly household budget over the loan term.
Banks will have fixed rate loans available for varying terms (up to 10 years) but the most popular terms for fixed rate home loans are between one and three years. Fixed home loans can have a higher interest rate than variable rate options so if you fix for a longer period of time you could end up paying a lot more if interest rates stay the same or go down over that period. Of course if rates go up the opposite will
At the end of the fixed period, borrowers will have the option to select another fixed term or switch to a variable rate loan. The revert rate, ie the rate that the home loan will automatically revert to when the fixed period is over, is usually higher than the market rate so if you do choose to fix be prepared to shop around at the end of the term or negotiate with your lender to get a better deal for staying with them.
How does a fixed rate home loan compare on features?
There was a time when if you took out a fixed home loan rate you had to give up many of the features that come with most variable rate home loans like offset accounts and the ability to make extra repayments. But this is no longer the case for all fixed rate home loans. There are some restrictions though and these should be weighed up before you choose to fix.
- Extra repayments: With a fixed rate home loan you may be able to make extra repayments but generally there will be a cap or limit to how much you can make each year or over the term of the loan.
- Redraw. If you can make extra repayments you may also have the ability to redraw this amount. With fixed rate home loans generally there will be a fee for this and a minimum redraw amount.
- Offset account: Some fixed loans will have an offset loan facility but unlike a variable rate home loan where you can offset 100% of the loan amount, with a fixed rate home loan you will only be able to offset a portion say 10 - 40% of the loan.
- Repayment flexibility: Fixed rate home loans will enable you to select the repayment frequency that suits you, the same as a variable loan. Options include weekly, fortnightly and monthly repayments.
- Loan-to-Value ratio: Fixed home loan rates have different LVR requirements to variable rate loans so while you might need an LVR of 80% for a variable rate loan you may only need a LVR of 90% for a fixed term loan.
- Split loan: Many fixed rate loans will have the option of splitting a portion of the fixed loan with a variable rate. There may be some limits to how much you can split but it can mean that you get the benefits of rate certainty for the fixed portion of your loan and added flexibility on the variable.