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How to save a deposit: house-sitting

How to save a deposit: house-sitting

One of the toughest parts of realising the dream of owning a home is saving for a deposit. The options seem pretty dismal – subsisting on a diet of beans on toast, never socialising, moving back in with the parents – and are almost enough to prompt a commitment to a life of renting. Of course, you may not have all the comforts of home, but house-sitting can even mean seeing a bit of the world while saving a deposit.

To help the savings grow without resorting to these options, many people house-sit while squirrelling away funds.

David and Ellen, a couple in their mid-20s, have saved almost $25,000 they would have used on bills and rent by house-sitting. It was an especially good financial decision when they were living on a single wage, with David working at the local bike shop as Ellen finished her final year at university.

Before they started house-sitting, David and Ellen were renting a small apartment in Mosman, NSW, and they estimate they have saved $22,000 in rent and approximately $2000 in bills by house-sitting.

Of course, it is much easier if you have flexibility in where you live and for how long, but the real key is an ambition to save.

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Do You Need a Financial Planner or a Finance Broker ?

Do You Need a Financial Planner or a Finance Broker ?

When taking the plunge into the world of home loans and property investment, the challenge often lies in knowing which expert to approach for help. Brokers and financial planners, although similar in their professional outlook, cater to different financial endeavours.

Brokers that deal in home loans must be qualified and licensed loan advisers with in-depth knowledge of home loans and options suitable for a range of different financial situations. They negotiate with lenders to arrange loans and help manage the process through to settlement.

 “When it comes to talking about a client’s debt structure or interest rates, or the best way to set up a loan, it’s really something that needs to be done by a mortgage broker who is qualified to give credit advice,” says the finance broker.

In contrast, financial planners assist with anticipating and managing longstanding financial outlook. They help sort through and select options for investment and insurance, with attention paid to retirement planning, estate planning and investment analysis.

“Financial planners take care of more of the long-term, wealth-creation strategy, as well as super and life insurance, and other sorts of wealth protection insurances,” the broker says.

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How to Keep your Loan Application on Track?

How to Keep your Loan Application on Track?

Other than the obvious documentation that needs to accompany an application, satisfactory identification and evidence of income by way of pay slips, many lenders will expect to see a reference from your employer, group certificates or tax returns, and records of any investments or shares that you might have.

For the best possible chance of getting the loan that suits your circumstances, you need to tick all the boxes. If an application is not completed correctly, you risk delays in approval, or even being declined by potential lenders.

If you are self-employed, you will need to organise alternative documentation to prove income, such as financial statements relating to the profit and loss of your business going back two years.

Lenders will also want to see bank statements going back a few months in order to track your spending and savings history. Most importantly, you will need to provide the details of your debts.

You must include documents that outline debts, personal loans, credit card liabilities and any expenses relating to dependants. If you don’t disclose this information, your loan will very likely be declined.

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Explainer: fixed-rate loans

Explainer: fixed-rate loans

When purchasing a property, borrowers can decide between fixed-interest loans that maintain the same interest rate over a specific period of time, or variable-rate loans that charge interest according to market rate fluctuations.

Fixed-rate loans usually come with a few provisos: borrowers may be restricted to maximum payments during the fixed term and can face hefty break fees for paying off the loan early.

 With interest rates at an all-time low, taking the option of locking in an interest rate on your home loan to guard against possible future fluctuation may be attractive. However, it pays to know the ins and outs of fixed-rate loans before committing to one.

However, locking in the interest rate on your home loan can offer stability.

“For those conscious of a budget and who want to take a medium-to-long term position on a fixed rate, they can protect themselves from the volatility of potential rate movement,” the finance broker says.

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Guaranteeing your child’s loan

Guaranteeing your child’s loan

Rising house prices are making it increasingly difficult to enter the market. Parents who guarantee their children’s loans can help, but it is important to understand how this can impact the parents’ retirement or investment plans.

Being a guarantor generally means using the equity in your own property as security for your child’s home loan. It can help a first-home buyer to secure finance for a property they can afford but may not have a large enough deposit for, and to avoid the added cost of lenders mortgage insurance.

The risks You may want to help your child but it’s important you don’t go into the transaction blindly. The main risk of guaranteeing the loan is that, depending on the structure of the guarantee, you could be liable should your child default on the payments, either by taking over the repayment schedule or handing over a full repayment. If you can’t make the payments, the lender may sell the home used as security. If this is still not enough, the lender may also require you to sell assets to meet outstanding debt.

Another major risk is a bad credit rating if default occurs. Plus, if you need to borrow money for another purpose, your property cannot be used. If you want to buy an investment property, you can’t use the equity in your home because it’s already tied up in the child’s loan.

Minimising the riskThere are ways to minimise the risks. The most common is using a monetary gift or private loan. It involves borrowing money against your property in your name, and then gifting it to your child. Another way to avoid the risk is to buy the property jointly with your child. This means your name is on the title and you have a certain percentage entitlement. When it comes to guaranteeing a loan, it’s always sensible to speak to a professional. You should also consider asking a legal professional to draw up a formal loan document outlining all conditions of the loan, interest rate and expected repayments.

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Explainer: interest-only loans

Explainer: interest-only loans

Borrowing to buy a property and repaying only the interest for a set period can be a great choice for some, beause interest-only loans can offer the right candidate financial flexibility while they invest. There are, however, some very important risks to take into consideration.

With interest rates at historical lows, interest-only loans may sound more appealing than ever because they offer the opportunity to enter the property market with lower repayments. In saying that, care must be taken, because interest-only loan repayments do not pay down the actual purchase price of the property or reflect a realistic repayment on a standard mortgage.

 “If you’re only repaying the interest on a loan, you’re not building up the equity on your home during that period.”

For an interest-only loan to be part of an effective property investment plan, borrowers must be comfortable that a property’s value will increase substantially. If the value doesn’t increase by more than the interest paid, they may end up losing out on the equity front.

Eventually, interest rates will rise again as the market ebbs and flows and, once a loan reverts to principal-and-interest repayments, borrowers who are unprepared may find themselves in a financial struggle.

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How a guarantor can help you secure finance

How a guarantor can help you secure finance

When you’re desperately trying to save up a deposit for a home and just see the prices of property climbing and climbing, it’s difficult to remain patient. But there is another way: a guarantor can help.

If you don’t have a substantial deposit for a home loan, there are still a number of ways to obtain credit. These are known as family pledges and there are two types available to borrowers: service guarantees and security guarantees.

"Service guarantees are less common that security guarantees" explains finance broker. They involve a family member guaranteeing all of the repayments on a loan, as well as being named on the property title.

A drawback of this approach is that it usually means first home buyers are not entitled to any government grants. A more popular option is a security guarantee. Borrowers who have a limited deposit often use this approach. In this situation, a relative or friend (usually a borrower’s parent or parents) is prepared to use the equity in his or her own home to guarantee the deposit of the borrower.

For example, for a total loan amount of $600,000, in a security guarantor situation the borrower/s would take on the debt of 80 per cent of the value of their loan, which would be $480,000, in their own name/s.

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Explainer: income protection insurance

Explainer: income protection insurance

How would you pay your mortgage if you were unable to work?

Insurance for something you can’t see or touch, such as your income, may seem strange. When considering insurance, it’s common for people to pass it off as a pesky added fee involved in owning a car, running a business or protecting a house against damage. Income insurance, on first glance, can seem like another costly precaution that’s unlikely to prove useful.

But when you think about how your income facilitates your lifestyle, it’s often at the top of the list in regards to things that you can’t afford to lose. Cars and houses can be replaced, but losing an income, perhaps for life, could see both lost.

Income protection insurance covers salary loss due to injury or sickness. Unlike workers compensation, it applies to injury or sickness at any place or time. And, unlike government allowances, it pays in accordance to your earning capacity.

“If someone is injured under worker’s compensation, for the first few weeks they receive a higher rate, but then it drops. Therefore, people’s standard way of living is sacrificed if they depend on this form of protection,” says the finance broker.

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Small business finance without the bank

Small business finance without the bank

It can still be difficult to make a case to a bank when looking for finance to start a new business or invest in the growth of an existing one. The good news is that applying for commercial finance through a bank is far from the only option.

Personal loansA relatively young enterprise that doesn’t have a track record of success may not be looked upon favourably by banks, which make lending decisions based on risk. A lack of documented history doesn’t aid a business loan application, so for those who still want to go through the bank they use for transaction accounts, a personal loan could be the way to go.

The downside may be slightly higher interest rates and lower loan amounts, but a personal loan can provide a good buffer for start-ups and application is relatively easy.

Private funding Private funding is when individuals lend generally through a trust account. While it can be a little more costly than the average business loan, it carries the advantage of flexibility.

“If it’s a ridiculously difficult deal to put together, with no banks wanting to touch it due to not having the appropriate documentation or being outside LVRs” says the finance broker. “In saying that, however, I would strongly recommend speaking with a broker who has experience in private lending because, as a consumer, you’re kind of flying blind and you need to know that they’re going to be trustworthy.”

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How to refinance to renovate?

How to refinance to renovate?

Refinancing your assets to renovate a property is a significant decision that will hopefully improve your standard of living or add substantial value to your property. It isn’t as straightforward as you might expect. The type of renovation proposed goes a long way to dictating the loan required. If the wrong loan is chosen, you could be left with a pile of unexpected debt.

Know your budget

Before considering refinancing, you need to have a clear idea of your budget.

If you underestimate your budget, you run the risk of getting knocked back from your lender, according to finance broker.

“I know a lot of homeowners who have estimated a budget of say $100,000 to do renovations, only to discover it will cost a lot more,” the broker says

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How to speed up your home loan approval

How to speed up your home loan approval

Asking how long it takes to get a loan approved is like asking how long a piece of string is. Every application is unique, so the time between your first contact with your bank or broker and approval can never be predetermined. There are, however, some things you can do to help hurry your application along.

Although very rare, same-day loan approvals are possible depending on the lender’s criteria, the complexity of the deal and turnaround time. “In my experience, this has been possible when the client’s lending position is fairly straightforward in terms of employment, asset and liability position,” says finance broker. “Also, if a valuation wasn’t required due to a low LVR and both parties were happy with the contract price.”

If you’re not prepared, it could take up to a month. The most common reason for a delay is a lender’s turnaround time to assessment, especially when some lenders have competitive offerings and experience larger application volumes, but a lack of preparation can cause this delay to snowball. “When there are such delays and then a lender must organise a valuation or request further information, this can lead to a lengthy process time,” the broker says.

A good finance broker will help you take all the necessary steps to ensure fast home loan approval, but there are simple ways you can help hurry the process along before your first meeting with your broker.

Disclose all informationTo avoid back and forth requests, which can delay your application, ensure your lender has a thorough understanding of you as an applicant including appropriate identification of all borrowers. Provide all the supporting and necessary documents upfront to your broker, and convey as much detail as possible in relation to your requirements and objectives and have good, current information on your financial position. The broker will need to not only have your full financial details but will also need to take reasonable steps to verify it.Skip the valuation queue

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How to avoid extra home loan fees

How to avoid extra home loan fees

Exit and early termination fees can put the brakes on plans to sell, to refinance, and to renovate or purchase an investment property. Here’s how to avoid them from the start.

Fees charged for the early repayment of variable-rate loans were phased out by government reforms in 2015. However, fixed-rate loans may still carry these fees, and both fixed-rate and variable-rate home loans taken before the reforms may still impose penalties for early repayments. Those pre-reform loans may now still be running.

“In most instances, for most lenders, fixed-term loans had a term of five years,” the finance broker explains. “That will be the case for most borrower’s pre-2015.”

If you took out a loan before 2015 and have decided to sell, it can be difficult avoiding early termination fees for fixed-rate loans, as they protect your lender against the loss of the interest they reasonably expected to earn on your finance.

You are able to receive a waiver or fee reduction, although you rely on the discretion of your lender to receive one. Having a good repayment history and being a long-term customer helps.

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How do I know I'm getting a good deal from my lender?

How do I know I'm getting a good deal from my lender?

With so many products offered by various lenders, it can be quite perplexing trying to figure out whether or not you’ve scored yourself a good deal on your home loan.

While doing your research and comparing what’s out there in the market is one of the most obvious ways to find out whether you’re sitting on a good deal, it can be a time consuming practice and an overwhelming experience for those without specialist knowledge of the mortgage sector.

“It’s good to shop around, and yes you can use comparison websites, but because lenders call like products different names, it can get very difficult comparing apples with apples,” advises the finance broker. “Brokers know the special names and pricing, so it’s worthwhile working with one as not only will it save you time but you’ll also get a well-rounded understanding of the advantages of each product.”

That understanding of each product’s pros and cons is essential, because the best deal isn’t necessarily just the one with the lowest interest rate. It ultimately comes down to finding a loan that suits your plans - whether those plans are to pay the loan off as quickly as possible, to use it to fund renovations or investment down the track, or to pay the lowest total interest and fees over the life of a loan – and to finding a lender that will provide that loan at the level of finance required.

“Imagine you’re wanting to buy your dream home. Now, different lenders will lend varying amounts based upon the same criteria,” says the finance broker. “So that could mean that the lender with the sharpest rate may lend $200,000 less than the one with a slightly higher rate. If you really want that property, you’re going to have to go with the one with the higher rate, which may only make a few thousand dollars difference a year in interest repayments.”

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How can I secure cash fast?

How can I secure cash fast?

Small business owners know all too well that the unpredictable nature of the industry can sometimes mean that quick access to cash flow is needed.

Solution #1: equipment finance

For many small businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, income and cash flow are heavily reliant on functioning equipment. So for restaurant owners who find their delivery truck has suddenly decided to call it quits, turning to equipment finance could be the best solution.

“Supported by most major and subsidiary lenders, rates are offered competitively at around five to eight per cent. Where a chattel mortgage, a mortgage on a commercial vehicle, is elected, borrowers own the asset from day one and can claim payments upfront, which enables greater cash flow within the business as well as interest and depreciation add backs,” says the finance broker. “Ultimately, I would recommend this solution as they are safe, structured and can have tax benefits associated with ownerships.”

Solution #2: unsecured business cash loan

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Selling your home? Here are the first steps to take

Selling your home? Here are the first steps to take

There is more to selling your home than putting up a ‘For Sale’ sign on your front lawn. Here are the first things you should check off your list to help you get the largest return from your investment and to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.

Choose a quality agentAsking family and friends who have purchased or sold a property about their experience is a great way to ensure the agent you’ve enlisted will provide quality service, explains the accredited finance broker. “A website and promotional material will always highlight the agent in the best possible way, but word of mouth and past client reviews will show their true colours,” she says.

Make sure the agent specialises in your area and is someone you feel comfortable around as they don’t just negotiate prices on your behalf, they also act as a mediator and represent you as a vendor.

Prepare the paperworkGetting together all the documents required is a tedious yet necessary part of the process. Before a property can be marketed for sale, your agent requires a copy of the Contract from your legal representative, explains the broker. From a disclosure document to a home loan pre-approval, ensure all the paperwork is prepared in time to ensure it all runs smoothly.

Don’t take things personallyRemember this is a business transaction; don’t feel insulted if you receive feedback on the property that doesn’t match how you feel about your home. To ensure you come out with the best deal, remove all emotion and think of your house as a commodity.

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How to avoid paying too much for a home

How to avoid paying too much for a home

Knowing what a property is worth is central to avoiding paying too much for it.

Set a benchmark

Comparing nearby properties that have sold recently is the best way to assess an acceptable price for the property you are looking at and provides a valuable bargaining tool when you are negotiating with a seller or agent. Make sure the properties are comparable, with a similar land size and number of bedrooms, for example, so you aren’t measuring apples against oranges.

“Your mortgage broker can give you a list of sales in the area and then you can drive around and look online to do a quick comparison. If you can find one or two similar properties then you can be sure of what the property is worth,” advises the finance broker.

Keep in mind current market conditions

The property market is always changing, so doing this research once and sitting on it for a few months will offer little help. Going to open homes and auctions regularly will give you an insight into the current state of the market and how much certain properties are going for.

Expand your search

“My number one tip is to look at properties in the suburb next to the one that you want,” says the finance broker. “We find that first-home buyers in particular usually end up buying in the more affordable suburb next door to the one that they first wanted to buy in.”

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No deposit? No worries!

No deposit? No worries!

If you have a stable income but don’t have the cash for a deposit, an expert can help find a way to turn your dreams come true!

Kelly and Natasha had a good, solid income but they didn’t have a sufficient deposit to be able to buy a property. They had been knocked back after visiting various lenders, but, when they went to see their local mortgage finance broker for help, it turned out that they just hadn’t been given the best advice.

Their finance broker suggested that they take a different approach and use family equity in place of a deposit. This meant including the value of the parent’s home in the total property valuation for the loan to bring their loan to valuation ratio (LVR) up to the required 80 per cent.

As for the parent’s concerns, the finance broker was also able to explain the implications and the flexibilities they had in terms of selling their property or downsizing. He allowed them to understand that they could still help out without carrying a large financial burden or altering any plans they had.

Kelly and Natasha’s application was approved, so they no longer had to delay and miss out on their purchase. They also avoided paying lenders’ mortgage insurance (LMI). Four years later, they have been able to refinance, eliminating the family property from their home loan arrangement and maintaining the loan on their own. With the equity in their home, they are now working with their finance broker on a plan to purchase an investment property, which they would never have thought was possible four years ago when they had been told they couldn’t buy even one.

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How to buy a home when you’re self-employed

How to buy a home when you’re self-employed

Many lenders offer loans for self-employed borrowers who can’t hand over payslips and employment records. This means that, rather than the usual documentation, you prove your ability to service a loan using bank statements, declarations from your accountant and financial records.

Self-employed borrowers come up against the challenge of not being able to simply present payslips and tax returns to back up their loan applications. But this need not stop you buying your dream home.

Of course, as with any mortgage application, you must still prove that your income outstrips your spending and you can service the loan. Getting this right is more than presenting a lender with a few quick sums on the back of a napkin; it can take a solid six to 12 months of preparation.

Here are some quick tips:

reduce debt: pay down credit cards and personal loans, and be sure to lower the credit limits as they are paid down, as lenders assess the total credit available to you as a potential debt level, not just the amount you owe;cancel credit cards that you don’t need (this will affect credit scoring);speak to a credit adviser about how the structure of your business and your taxable income will impact your ability to borrow;do your taxes when you should, and always pay your tax assessments on time;save: saving a deposit is obviously important, and showing your ability to live within your means while saving is too. This is key to serviceability – you want to show at least a six-month history of high income and low expenses; andask your Mortgage Approved Credit Adviser, rather than a bank. Credit advisers have access to specialist lenders that assess applications on a case-by-case basis and tailor their products to self-employed borrowers and contractors, while bank lenders do not.

Loans to the self-employed do differ from standard loans in a few ways, apart from the application process. Lenders offset the extra risk they are taking when lending to a self-employed borrower or contractor by charging slightly higher interest rates and placing some extra rules on loan-to-value ratios (LVR) and insurance requirements.

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Don't have savings? We could help you buy your first home!

Don't have savings? We could help you buy your first home!

Young couple John and Kim were keen to start paying off their own home rather than paying rent, but had no savings. Here’s how they bought their first property.

John and Kim Wright were wondering why they were paying off their landlord’s mortgage instead of their own, but they didn’t have the savings or financial history to convince a lender to give them a mortgage.

After being declined by two lenders, one a big bank and the other a smaller lender that they thought they would have luck with, they contacted their local mortgage finance broker.

“During my initial discussions with John on the telephone, I asked him several questions to help me put the pieces of his jigsaw puzzle together,” says the finance broker. “And, on paper, it certainly didn’t look like a deal.”

As well as the lack of savings, the couple had a couple of other problems standing between them and a strong application: John had recently changed his employment and he had a small, paid default on his credit file.

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What should I ask my Mortgage Broker?

What should I ask my Mortgage Broker?
Start with 'Are you a member of the MFAA or FBAA?'

A good accredited mortgage broker can help guide you through the mortgage market to find the home loan appropriate to your situation. But, before you start working with a residential mortgage broker, there are a few questions you should ask.

Are you a member of the MFAA?

The Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) is the peak industry body in Australia and the one the majority of mortgage brokers are accredited with, representing more than 12,500 mortgage & finance professionals across the country. To be accredited by MFAA, credit advisers must satisfy rigorous criteria on education, experience and ethics. So if you want to work with an accredited residential mortgage broker in Sydney – someone you can trust – the first question you should ask is, “Are you a member of the MFAA?”.

Mortgage Brokers: education & experience

To help you negotiate the complex mortgage market, you need someone with knowledge and experience. So ask your mortgage broker about their credentials.

What fee is your mortgage broker charging?

Since most mortgage brokers receive a commission from the lender, they generally offer their service free of charge to the borrower. But don't assume this. Ask your mortgage broker if they charge a fee, and if so, how much.

What commission is your mortgage broker being paid?

Don't be afraid to ask a credit adviser what they are being paid for their home loan recommendations. The MFAA's Code of Practice requires its credit advisers to reveal the commissions they are being paid by a lender on a particular home loan product or any other products they may offer. To borrow with confidence, only deal with an MFAA or FBAA accredited mortgage broker. Talk to CBM Mortgages today. Find out how we can help you buy that first or next property.

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