Managing your home loan to get ahead.
There is a perception that a home is a place we live in, and an investment property is something that we make money from. But your home is not just your castle, have you thought about how to leverage it to finance things such as investments, education and more?
Our video 'Managing your home loan to get ahead' will focus on how you can use your home to grow your wealth and ways to help you achieve your financial goals.
We’ll help you learn how to:
- manage home loan debt and how to get ahead.
- leverage your assets to grow wealth.
- strategically plan your financial future.
This video may be helpful for anyone who:
- is in the market to buy a residential property.
- wants to own their own home sooner.
- wants to un-lock the equity in their existing home to grow their wealth.
Hi, I’m Bron Lawson from Westpac’s Davidson Institute here to talk to you about ‘Managing your home loan to get ahead’. Our home is our castle, but it can be so much more than that. This video is about looking at our financial journey and thinking about how we manage our finances to use our home to get ahead.
We all want to ‘get ahead’ financially and I think the key to doing that is to understand how our finances change throughout our life and to be able to effectively plan for the future that we want. Let’s have a look at a typical financial lifecycle.
In the early years as we are starting out on our financial journey, we are increasing our income and assets with our first job, buying a car and so on. During this time, it’s important to start developing good money habits.
As our working life continues and we start to establish long term relationships and take on long term commitments our wealth tends to fluctuate depending on career and life events that contribute to, or use up, our cash flow. While we are getting established and starting to create some long-term wealth, we need to have a focus on saving to ensure our commitments can be met.
The next stage of our financial journey is where we are building and optimising our wealth as we are preparing ourselves for life after work … more specifically life after we stop earning an income! And during this time there are lots of different events that are going to take place … like putting the children through school, perhaps buying an investment property, there may be changes to the family situation, and then as our children move out of home we may need to help them financially as well.
But of course, throughout this time, for our own personal situation, it is about maximising our wealth as this is what is going to sustain us during our retirement.
Then of course comes the day when we finish work and life changes significantly. At this point, if we want to do all those things that we have saved for and built up our wealth for … if we want to travel the country or do community work or simply spend more time with the grandkids … we still need to manage our wealth and the income from it to ensure it lasts our lifetime.
This video on ‘getting ahead’ focusses on one of the most significant financial decisions many people will make … to buy a home. This commitment will often last most of our working life as we are establishing, creating, building and optimising our wealth, but by managing the debt that often comes with it and understanding how to use the equity we build up, we are better placed to make the most of the opportunities it creates.
Today we are going to: • explore ways to manage the debt that often comes with purchasing a home. • look at ways that we can leverage the value in our home to improve our wealth position. • and finally, how we can plan to make the most of our situation.
So, let’s start by looking at some ways to manage the debt we may have against our home. There are 3 key elements that we can use to reduce the cost of our home debt. • Interest rates • Repayments, and • Offset accounts. Let’s explore each of those in more detail.
Firstly, interest rates. Getting the lowest rate possible isn’t always the best scenario as we need to look at what we might be missing out on to get that lower rate. For example, other benefits such as the ability to pay more frequently. That said, it is worth exploring whether taking up a honeymoon rate at the beginning of a loan might be helpful in getting ahead. Be wary though of restrictions or other costs following on from the honeymoon period.
Many financiers now offer packages such as a bundle of products with discounted rates that attract an annual fee, such as Westpac’s Premier Advantage Package. Do the sums and check whether the discounts outweigh the cost of the package because these discounted rates can be a great way to reduce the cost of your loan and get ahead.
Finally, let’s look into fixed and variable rates. This is probably one of these most asked questions when it comes to home finance, “Should I go fixed or variable rate?” Well, what’s the difference? As their name suggest variable rates will fluctuate over time. Fixed rates on the other hand, are fixed for a specified period of time. This has the effect that repayments are also fixed for that period of time, making it easier to budget and manage your cash flow.
However, because your rate and repayments are set at a specific level you are generally not able to make higher repayments than those agreed without incurring a penalty. Locking into a fixed rate also means that if variable rates fall then you don’t get the advantage of the reduced rate.
Variable rates on the other hand, while it may mean that your repayments can increase or decrease, because you are not locked into a set repayment amount, as long as you pay the minimum required you can set your repayments to suit your situation – making extra repayments when you have the money available.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each, and it depends on what’s happening in the economy generally and your personal situation at that particular point in time as to which might be the best option for you.
In a bid to take advantage of the best of both worlds it is not uncommon to see people splitting their loans into a variable and a fixed portion. Let’s say we have a $400,000 home loan; this could be split into 2 loans of $200,000 each – one fixed and one variable. We’d then be able to make extra repayments on the variable portion or use an offset account. However, on the fixed portion we can be certain both the rate and repayments won’t change during the fixed term.
The next element to consider in managing your loan to reduce the costs is your repayments. What difference does it make if you make fortnightly repayments instead of monthly? And, what difference can additional repayments make?
Let’s start by looking at increasing the frequency of repayments, specifically paying fortnightly instead of monthly. In the example on the screen I’ve used the MoneySmart calculator to demonstrate the difference.
I’ve looked at a home loan of $500,000 at the variable rate of 4.58% with monthly repayments of $2,560 over 30 years. By making repayments of ½ the monthly repayment, that is $1280 on a fortnightly basis, we can significantly reduce the overall term of the loan and the interest costs. The overall term is reduced by 4 years and 6 months, and the interest saving $72,147.
The time and interest savings are generated because the more frequent repayments reduce the principle amount more quickly, which reduces the interest that is calculated.
Another option for some is to make repayments higher than the minimum required amount. Again, this has the effect of reducing the principal more quickly, and thus the interest calculated too. The example on the screen shows the same loan amount of $500,000, at the interest rate of 4.58%, with repayments of $2,560 over 30 years.
By paying an additional $100 a month, roughly $25 a week (or 5 coffees a week), again the savings in terms of time and interest are significant. If you’re able to squeeze some extra repayments out of your budget it’s worth it in the long run.
If you’re going to make additional repayments though check whether your bank has a “redraw” facility that will allow you to access those extra repayments should you need to. Remember too though, that if you decide to fix your interest rate you may not be able to make more frequent or additional repayments without incurring penalties. Make sure you check before making any changes to your repayment arrangements.
That then leaves an Offset account as the final element to help manage our home loan costs. So, what is an offset account, how does it work and what’s the benefit of using an offset account? Essentially an offset account is a savings account that is linked to a variable rate home loan, and the balances are netted against each other. The home loan interest is calculated on the netted balance.
Following on from our previous example where we had a $200,000 variable rate home loan, let’s say we also have a savings account with $25,000 in savings. When netted against the $200,000 variable rate home loan, interest is calculated on the net balance of $175,000.
If we had simply had the $25,000 savings in an account that earned 2.5% interest and we left the interest in the account to accumulate, then after 30 years we would have earned $27,884 in interest. On the home loan, if we simply made the minimum monthly repayments and there were no interest rate changes, then we would pay $168,244 in interest over 30 years. So, the net amount of interest paid over the 30 years would be $140,360.
If instead, we held the $25,000 savings in an offset account linked to the $200,000 home loan, made the minimum monthly repayments only, and there were no interest rate changes, with the interest being calculated on the netted balance then the term would reduce to 23 years and 2 months and we would pay $84,160 in interest.
Compared to the previous scenario in which $140,360 was paid, this is a saving of over $50,000. So, if there is an offset account available with your home loan then there are significant benefits that can be gained by using that feature.
Another great thing about these offset accounts is that they operate in exactly the same way as a normal transaction account. You can have your pay directed there and link up your access card, arrange direct debits, pay bills and so on. There is no need for another separate account, and all your money is working for you reducing the cost of your home loan.
If you are a disciplined spender, you could also add a credit card with an interest free period into the mix. By using the card for all your regular expenses and clearing it in full once a month from the offset account, your regular bill money is also working for you in reducing the cost of your home loan.
So, we’ve explored a few ways now that you can save some dollars on your home loan and get ahead. Let’s have a look now at how we can leverage that asset – our home – to earn more wealth for us instead of simply being a drain on our cash flow.
In theory, two very specific things happen with our home over time. Firstly, the value of the property itself generally increases. Secondly, we repay the home loan. As time progresses, the gap between how much the property is worth, and how much we owe on the home loan, increases.
Many homeowners are already increasing the size of that gap by using some of the tactics we’ve just looked at like offset accounts, accelerated repayments and so on. However not all of them are using that gap to their advantage by leveraging the growth in equity in the asset.
That’s what we are going to explore a little further because it’s no great secret it’s just about having a little more knowledge and the mindset of planning for a better financial future. So, let’s apply some numbers to that theory to illustrate the growth in equity.
Let’s say we have a property currently worth $400,000, property values in the area are growing at 4%pa, and the loan for the property is being repaid at the minimum monthly repayment over 30 years. So, on these assumptions, after 30 years, the property will be worth $1.2m and there’ll be nothing owing on it.
From a banking perspective this equity is valued at 80%, meaning that the equity in the property is $960,000. But that’s in 30 years’ time. What if you want to access some of that equity sooner? Throughout the life of the loan, there is an ever-increasing amount of equity available. So, based on our assumptions of 4% annual growth in property value, minimum monthly repayments are made on the home loan, and that equity is valued at 80% let’s have a look at the equity as it builds.
After 3 years, there’s approximately $50,000 in available equity. After 7 years, there’s approximately $130,000 in available equity, and after 15 years, $475,000.
Let’s now overlay this diagram with our financial lifecycle segments. For most people, the segments that are relevant will be creating, building, and optimising wealth. This is where our planning for how we can use the equity, or leverage the equity in our home, can now kick in.
By considering what the likely events may be that will occur throughout the asset’s lifecycle, we can gain an understanding of approximately when you are likely to need access to additional money. For example, we will have a rough idea of things such as marriage, travel, kids’ education and so on. Then, we can consider what potential opportunities exist to use the equity to grow your wealth.
For example, at about 7 years maybe the children will start school which provides the option to use some of the equity built up in the home to pay for private schooling or tuition, or if you wait a little longer, say 10 years, there may be enough equity to help purchase an investment property or build up a share portfolio.
By recognising that our home is not just our castle but an asset that we can use to improve life in other ways, we are then able to plan for the options that this opens up for us. To be able to make the most of these options though is going to require some careful planning. But I do believe it’s worth planning for the best.
So, we started out this video by looking at how our finances and the way we manage them change over time. When we’re starting with all those firsts if we establish some good money habits, they’ll stand us in good stead for the rest of our life.
Then we spend a number of years working. Our financial position will fluctuate throughout this time depending on how we are using our money, but we need to be conscious throughout this time of steadily building then optimising our wealth so that when we are no longer working we have sufficient to provide for the lifestyle we want.
As we have seen today, our home can help us improve our financial situation if we’re aware of, and take advantage of, the equity we can accumulate there.
I’d encourage everyone to take a look at where you are currently on this cycle and to consider what actions you are currently taking, what you have coming up, and whether you need to change anything. It’s only through actively planning for our future that we can potentially have the future we want.
In this video we have looked at some techniques to manage your home loan and reduce the costs. We also looked at leveraging the equity in your home to generate more wealth. Both of which will help you to plan for the best.
Thanks for watching our video on ‘Managing your home loan to get ahead’. We trust you found this information helpful and I encourage you to check out the other videos and resources on the Davidson Institute website to help build your financial confidence. Bye for now!