This week in banking - Home loan competition heats up

Niko Iliakis

Friday 08 March 2019

Your banking recap is back for a rundown of the biggest news and most significant changes in Australian banking from the past week. now a major contender in the home loan market

Online lenders are having a bit of a moment right now. Last week Athena Home Loans launched onto the scene with maximum fanfare, promising to swoop in and rescue Australians from their inordinately priced home loans.

This week it looks like might be trying to steal a bit of Athena’s thunder. It’s just rolled out its own low rate home loan at a 3.48% variable rate (3.50% comparison rate*). The kicker? That’s one percentage point lower than Athena’s starting offer. How’s that for throwing down the gauntlet?

Powershop kicks things off in SA

Powershop, the energy provider on a mission to power Aussie homes with renewable energy, has finally entered the South Australian market, and given SA’s green energy obsession you could say it was only a matter of time.

And for anyone’s who’s on the fence about joining (as if helping the environment wasn’t incentive enough), Powershop has announced that Australians who sign up for Powershop before March 31 will receive a $100 discount on their power every year.

RBA delays rate change for yet another round

In national news, the RBA has once again held off on changing the cash rate, citing a desire to preserve economic growth and keep both unemployment and inflation at bay. Nonetheless, change is in the cards for the near future. Mozo Data Manager Peter Marshall believes that we’ll see not one but two cuts by the end of the year.

“I still don’t think the RBA’s going to rush into anything though - it’s not their style. They don’t have many cuts left in the bank, so they’ll want to apply what they do have left quite judiciously, so I expect that they’ll wait until May or June before making a move.”

Variable home loans

Turning to rates, NAB added some new pricing for its Base Variable Rate Home Loan. The special is now 3.79% (3.83% comparison rate*) for loans with an LVR below 80%, and 3.99% (4.03% comparison rate*) for loans with an LVR of 80-95%.

Kogan Money reduced variable rates for its Essential Home Loan for owner occupiers by 0.10%. It now sits at 3.59% (3.60% comparison rate*). AMP, on the other hand, has hiked rates for its Classic Variable Rate Loan, Essential Home Loan and more by 0.15%.

Fixed home loans

Virgin Money has introduced a new home loan to its lineup. The Reward Me First Home Buyer Special offers a competitive 3.68% fixed two year rate (3.77% comparison rate*), and borrowers stand to gain loads of Velocity Points upon application as well as throughout the loan.

Hume Bank made multiple cuts to its range of home loans, with 1 to 5 year rates for owner occupiers all dropping 0.10%. NAB also made a number of reductions, mostly in the 0.10% to 0.20% range, to its Tailored Home Loan and Tailored Home Loan Choice Package.

Elsewhere, Teachers Mutual Bank made sizeable reductions to its Fixed Option Home Loan. The 4 year and 5 year fixed rates were slashed 0.37% and 0.50%, respectively. Unibank also decreased its 3, 4 and 5 year Fixed Option Home Loans by 0.10% to 0.50%.

Qudos Bank has dropped fixed rates by 0.10% across a wide range of its home loans. The main change occurred at the 5 year range for its Fixed Rate Home Loan, which now sits at 3.99% p.a. (4.14% comparison rate*) after a 0.20% reduction.

Term deposits

While the window to grab a decent term deposit is still technically open, it’s closing fast. This week saw several more cuts across the board. First off, NAB dropped its 2, 3, 4 and 5 year rates by 0.10%. Rural Bank also made cuts of 0.10% to its 1, 3, 4 and 5 year rates, and Rural Bank ONE did the same for its 6 month and 1 year rate. Meanwhile, the Mutual Bank (formerly Maitland Mutual Building Society) cut rates for its 5 month term by 0.40%. It now sits at 2.00% p.a.

But there’s no need to despair just yet. A good way to ride out the current dip is by stashing your funds in longer term deposits, which for the most part have been immune to the latest string of cuts. Check out our term deposit comparison page for an idea of the kind of rates available.

*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.

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