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When you borrow money for a home, you need to pay back the principal (the amount you borrowed), plus interest. The interest is a charge that the lender places on top of the principal as payment for use of their money. The interest rate is expressed as a percentage of the principal, and determines how much interest you’ll have to pay each month. As you’ll see later, there are different types of interest structures available.
Depending on economic conditions, such as the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) cash rate, and other potential changes to how much it costs lenders to fund loans, interest rates are constantly reviewed. Some other factors that could affect the interest you pay can include:
When it comes to loans, there are a few interest rate options, each offering their own particular features.
Here’s where a little maths comes into play. To calculate your interest payments your lender takes the amount of your loan and multiplies it by your interest rate. Next, they divide that amount by 365 days (or 366 days if it happens to be a leap year). So, in formulaic terms, this process is expressed as (principal x rate) ÷ time = interest. So as an example, if you took out a loan of $400,000 at an interest rate of 3.5% p.a., the formula would be ($400,000 x 0.035) ÷ 365 = $38.36 per day.
The good news is, yes, there are things you can do to help reduce the amount of interest you get charged over the life of your home loan.
The first, and most obvious, step you can take is compare a number of lenders and loan types to find a suitable option for you. And that’s where we can help—we’ve partnered with Lendi to make the process of comparing home loans easier for iSelect customers. Click here to get started!
But once you’ve found your loan, there are other approaches that can help you save. These include:
As we pointed out earlier, your interest is calculated on the principal of your loan. So it stands to reason that if you reduce the principal, you generally reduce your interest repayments. That’s why taking out a principal and interest loan may be a better choice than opting for an interest only loan. A home loan with the option to make extra repayments could help you pay down your loan balance sooner, possibly saving you thousands in interest.
Quicker isn’t always better, but when it comes to home loans you may want to take the shortest loan term that you can manage. While a longer loan might mean smaller monthly repayments, it can add thousands to the total interest you end up paying. Always be realistic about what you can manage as you want to avoid missing repayments, defaulting and damaging your credit score.
OK, this one almost seems like a magic trick. Most lenders will let you choose to make repayments weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. And here’s the sneaky bit; if you pay fortnightly rather than monthly, you actually end up paying an extra month each year. That’s because there are 26 fortnights annually, not 24. And because this additional payment is effectively spread out over a year, you can reduce your principal without even noticing.
Many lenders offer offset accounts, but what does that mean? Well, an offset account works like a normal day-to-day savings account, so it’s where you might have your salary deposited and keep any savings. But unlike an ordinary account, it’s linked to your home loan and rather than earning interest, the money in your offset is deducted from your principal when your monthly interest charge is calculated. So it’s another great way to trim your repayments and get you closer to financial freedom.
For example, if you had a $400,000 home loan with $30,000 in a linked offset account, you will only be charged interest on the first $370,000 of your loan balance.
When comparing interest rates, it could pay to do your due diligence. Be sure to consider the overall cost of the loan (lenders are required to list a ‘comparison rate’, which includes both the interest and the fees). But as we’ve demonstrated in this article, there is a lot to consider. The good news is that you don’t have to tackle it alone.
At iSelect we’ve partnered with Lendi to make the process of comparing home loans easier for iSelect customers. Use our online tool to compare home loans, or give Lendi a call on 1300 186 260 (08:30-18:30).
Last updated: 23/06/2021