Precautions You Should Take Before You Sign up For a Fixed Rate Home Loan

Precautions You Should Take Before You Sign up For a Fixed Rate Home Loan
Precautions You Should Take Before You Sign up For a Fixed Rate Home Loan

Australian interest rates are currently at historically low levels. This fact, along with the economic uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, has left many wondering whether or not now is a good time to take out (or switch to) a fixed rate home loan. Fixed rate home loans are where your loan repayments will be charged at the same interest rate, usually for periods between 1 to 5 years.

There are both pros and cons of taking out a fixed rate home loan. 

Pros:

1. Your interest rate won’t go up if market rates increase 

This means that you’ll be charged less interest than a person with a variable rate home loan, giving you the opportunity to become mortgage-free sooner. 

2. It can give you repayment certainty

Your repayments won’t change if market interest rates increase. A fixed rate loan can, therefore, be a good idea if your financial circumstances are likely to change. For example, if you’re planning on starting a family or your job may be at risk due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus.

Cons:

1. Higher fees

A fixed rate home loan usually has higher fees than a variable-rate home loan.

2. Break fees

If you want to end your fixed rate home loan before the term expires, there will usually be ‘break fees’ involved. For example, a reason why you might want to end your fixed rate home loan is if you want to sell your home. Variable-rate loans, on the other hand, don’t have break fees.

3. Loan features and flexibility

Some fixed rate home loans limit your ability to make to do things such as:

       However, variable-rate loans usually have more flexible features such as these.

Before you take out a fixed rate home loan, you should do all of the following:

1. Thoroughly research the market 

There are a huge number of home loan products and loan providers available in the Australian home loan market. If you don’t have time to research the market, you can use the services of a licensed mortgage broker

In addition, if you are switching from a variable-rate home loan to a fixed-rate, it’s important that the benefits outweigh any costs. If you are unsure about this, you should obtain independent financial advice.

2. Understand the comparison interest rate

Lenders usually advertise two interest rates on their loan products: a nominal rate and a comparison rate. The nominal rate is usually lower, but it doesn’t include the cost of loan fees and charges. The comparison rate, on the other hand, is higher but it does include the cost of most loan fees and charges. 

Always use the comparison rate when comparing loan products. Lenders in Australia are legally required to provide you with the comparison rate before you take out a loan.

3. Negotiate loan fees and features

The Australian home loan market is highly competitive and lenders are always keen for new home loan business from applicants with good credit ratings. If you have a good credit history, you may be able to negotiate home loan fees and charges with lenders. 

There’s an old saying that ‘you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate’. If you don’t believe you have good negotiating skills, a mortgage broker can negotiate on your behalf.


It’s important to understand that paying off a home loan is a long-term financial commitment. Interest rates inevitably change over time and interest is the major cost associated with home loans. Even a small increase in interest rates can make a massive difference to the amount you’ll pay over the duration of a home loan. Hence, It is crucial that you consider the pros and cons of fixed rate home loans as well as their suitability for your current and future financial circumstances.

 

Rakesh Gupta

Rakesh Gupta

Rakesh Gupta is the director of ARG Finance in Melbourne. He has over ten years of experience in the mortgage broking industry and he is a full member of the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA).

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fixedrate home loan

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