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Low doc home loans - a guide for the self employed

If you're a freelancer, self-employed worker, small business owner or contract worker, getting a standard home loan can be difficult when you don’t have proof of salary documents like payslips or group certificates. This is where a low doc home loan comes in.

Low doc loans are designed for people who have the income to afford a home loan but not the standard documents to prove it. They are available from the big banks here in Australia as well as smaller players like non-bank lenders, credit unions and building societies.

What documentation will I need to apply for a low doc loan?

The specifics will vary between lenders but some of the standard documentation you’ll need includes:

  • A borrower’s income declaration (this is a document where you verify the amount you earn and that you can afford the repayments)
  • Registered business name
  • ABN
  • Business activity statements (generally lenders will want to see 12 months work of statements)
  • Personal and business bank statements

Do lenders have eligibility conditions for low doc loans?

Yes, every lender will require you to meet set conditions to be eligible for a low doc loan. While conditions will vary across lenders, you can generally expect to be asked for the following:

  • Proof that you have been working in the same industry for at least one year
  • 12 months worth of consecutive BAS statements, verified by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) or an accountant’s declaration
  • Most recent personal and business bank statements - up to 6 months worth
  • Confirmation your income has been registered for GTS for a minimum of 12 months

How do I compare low doc loans?

Some lenders will have standalone low doc home loans that are only available for people who are self employed or meet the criteria for a low doc loan. Other lenders will have a low doc option on their standard home loan offers.

The Big 4 banks (ANZ, NAB, Commonwealth and Westpac) all offer standard fixed and variable rate home loans with options for low doc borrowers.

Are there any differences between low doc loans and standard home loans?

Besides requiring less documentation, low doc home loans differ from regular home loans in that they tend to come with higher rates. Make sure to check the comparison rate, not just the headline rate, as this gives a more accurate indication of the cost of the loan.

Another key difference between low and full doc loans is the LVR (loan to value) requirements. With low doc loans the maximum loan to value ratio is 80% and anything over 60% LVR will require lenders mortgage insurance.

On a standard home loan only loans with an LVR of 80% or more are required to pay lenders mortgage insurance. Lenders mortgage insurance is payable by you and protects the lender if you default on your home loan.

Example: Jessica wants to borrow $240,000 to purchase a property with a total cost of $300,000. Since she has a deposit of $60,000, this will mean she has an LVR of 80%. While she will be approved for the low doc home loan, she will have to pay lenders mortgage insurance as her LVR is over 60%.

The final key difference between low doc and standard home loans is the maximum loan size. With a low doc home loan you may find that the maximum loan amount you can borrow is lower than on a standard home loan.

What features should I look for in a low doc home loan?

The features you should look for are the ones that are going to save you money. A home loan is a long term commitment so anything you can do to reduce the amount of interest or the time it takes you to repay your home loan will be beneficial to you whether you are self-employed or not.

Here are the top features to consider:

Mortgage offset account. An offset account saves you money by offsetting the money in your bank account with the interest owing on your home loan.

Scenario: When Jessica is approved for the $260,000 home loan, she decides to put $10,000 in an offset account. This means she will only pay interest on $250,000.

Additional repayments. Either lump sum or regular extra repayments will help reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay in the long run.

Splitting your home loan. Some lenders will have the option to split your home loan repayments between fixed and variable interest rate. This enables you to protect a portion of your home loan repayments if rates rise.

Free redraw. Sure, being able to make extra repayments is great when you’ve got the extra cash but if you need money fast, having the ability to redraw those funds can be a better way to pay for things than with a high interest credit card.

Scenario: 10 years down the track Jessica decides that she is ready to give her home a refresh and update the kitchen and bathroom. So instead of using a credit card or taking out a personal loan, she uses her home loan’s redraw facility to dip into the extra repayments she’s made to fund the reno.

Flexible repayments. Many home loans come with the option of weekly, fortnightly or monthly repayments, so you can time your repayments so that they work best for your income stream.

Home Loan Comparison Table - last updated 26 May 2024

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Maria Gil
Maria Gil
Money writer

Maria Gil writes across all of our personal finance areas here at Mozo. Her goal is to help you think smarter about money and have more in your pocket. Maria earned a journalism degree in Florida in the United States, where she has contributed to major news outlets such as The Miami Herald. She also completed a masters of digital communications at the University of Sydney. When Maria isn’t busy with all things finance, you can find her tucked away reading fantasy books. She is also ASIC RG146 (Tier 2) certified for general advice.

* 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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