Switching home loans: tips for borrowers looking for a better deal

If you’re paying too much for your mortgage, you may be able to save by switching home loans for a better rate through your current lender, or by changing lenders. Here’s how to do it.

It could be possible to save money on your mortgage by negotiating for a better rate from your current home lender. And if that doesn’t work, have you considered switching your home loan to another lender that’s offering a better deal? Here are some points to consider:

Key points:

  • It’s usually possible to switch a mortgage to another lender.
  • First, you could try negotiating for a better interest rate with your current lender.
  • Always check for the extra fees and costs associated with refinancing a home loan.

Can you switch your mortgage to another bank?

Yes, it’s usually possible to switch a mortgage to another lender. Switching or refinancing your current home loan part way through the loan term to another loan that better suits your needs could potentially save you money.

There are hundreds of home loan products available on the market. If you haven’t looked at your options recently, you may find that compared to your current home loan, one of them may offer:

  • a lower interest rate
  • lower fees
  • more flexible repayment options
  • better features

If you can find a home loan offering better value than your current mortgage you could consider refinancing. After all, why should you be paying more for the same sort of product you could find elsewhere?

Is it worth switching mortgage lenders and home loans?

Although there may be some refinancing costs to bear in mind – such as break fees and application fees – the savings earned by switching could negate these. It’s generally worth weighing up the costs to refinance against the savings you expect to make before making any concrete moves.

It is possible to break free from an existing fixed loan agreement, but some lenders may charge what is known as a break fee if an existing borrower wishes to end their fixed-term loan before the end of the contract to switch to a different rate or bank.

Of course, you don’t have to immediately switch to a different provider when looking for a better deal, you could first try negotiating for a lower rate with your current lender. But if they won’t give you a discount, it might be time to vote with your wallet.

How much could I save by switching home loans?

How much you could save depends on a range of factors, such as the interest rate and fees. To investigate for yourself, you could use Canstar’s Home Loan Comparison Calculator to check the impact of different interest rates on monthly mortgage repayments and total loan costs.

How do you switch lenders? How do you transfer a home loan?

If you’ve decided it could be worthwhile to consider switching from your current home loan lender, here are some tips to help:

1. Compare interest rates

Firstly, know what’s on offer. Jump online and use Canstar’s  free mortgage tool to compare the home loan rates that are available from various institutions. If you have at least 20% equity in your home, you may be in a position to get even more competitive rates (as you might not have to pay lenders mortgage insurance – LMI). It could also be worth looking at the loan features on offer from the various lenders to see if they are suited to your needs.

Related article: Mortgage Cashbacks: What’s On Offer?

2. Check what’s on offer at your bank

Phone your existing institution and ask them what discount they can offer you. If you know what you can get elsewhere, you’re in a position of power. You might find some sharp negotiation with your existing provider saves you the effort of moving.

3. Weigh up switching to a new lender

If your existing provider won’t play ball, it could be time to consider switching your mortgage to a new provider. While changing your bank may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be a difficult process – your new lender should be able to do most of the legwork for you.

4. Check for fees and extra costs

Check with the lenders on your shortlist whether there will be any start-up fees, break fees or other costs involved, and factor them in before you switch. If you have less than 20% equity, you might also be up for lenders mortgage insurance (LMI), which could make the cost of switching significantly less affordable. Your new potential lender will generally be able to tell you if any mortgage insurance will apply.

5. Calculate your break-even point

While a lower interest rate might mean you could save money on monthly repayments, the costs to refinance could actually mean it may take a while for any real savings to flow through. One way to calculate when this is to add up the costs of refinancing and divide that by the monthly savings you would make on repayments. As a hypothetical example, if it costs you $1000 to switch to a new lender, but you expect to save $50 per month in repayments, it would take 20 months to break even. Remember, even if you refinance at a lower rate it could be worthwhile keeping your repayment amounts the same anyway to save more money in interest over the life of your loan.

6. Check the length of your new loan

The typical home loan term in New Zealand is 25 to 30 years, and some lenders will only let you take out a loan of this length, rather than the length remaining on your previous mortgage. For example, you might end up with a 25-year term rather than the 17 years you had remaining, which may result in you paying more in interest than you otherwise would.

Crunch the numbers:

Home Loan Repayments Calculator

Mortgage Comparison Calculator

Home Loan Extra Repayments Calculator

Other Finance Calculators

Compare Home Loan Rates with Canstar

About the reviewer of this page

This report was reviewed by Canstar’s Editor, Bruce Pitchers. Bruce has three decades’ experience as a journalist and has worked for major media companies in the UK and Australasia, including ACP, Bauer Media Group, Fairfax, Pacific Magazines, News Corp and TVNZ. Prior to Canstar, he worked as a freelancer, including for The Australian Financial Review, the NZ Financial Markets Authority, and for real estate companies on both sides of the Tasman.

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