residential mortgage
Financial and Home Loan Brokers in Sydney

By Dave Fleming : 17 September, 2019

Banks’ Unclear Pricing Costing Frustrated Borrowers Thousands

 

mortgage broker sydneyBorrowers who don’t shop around due to the banks’ unclear pricing tactics are losing out on an average of $850 a year, an ACCC report has found.

Get a load of this: there’s this tactic that the big four banks (ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac) use that makes it “difficult” and “frustrating” for borrowers to discover their best home loan offer.

The tactic is called discretionary pricing, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has just released a scathing report on it.

So what is discretionary pricing?

The banks don’t really advertise their best home loan deals. But there are two kinds of discounts that they do offer.

The first is their “advertised discounts”, which are generally published on their website and relatively easy for borrowers to discover.

The second is “discretionary discounts”, which are much harder to find.

Discretionary discounts are offered on a case-by-case basis to individual borrowers, usually after the lender has assessed their application.

However, the criteria for discretionary discounts is generally not disclosed to borrowers.

So what’s the problem?

Basically, the banks are intentionally making it pretty damn hard and time-consuming for borrowers to obtain accurate lowest interest rate offers from multiple lenders.

In doing so, they’re hoping you’ll just get too frustrated and put the whole ‘searching around for a better deal’ thing in the too-hard-basket.

The ACCC says that’s how it was for 70% of recent borrowers from one bank – they obtained just one quote before taking out their residential mortgage.

“The lack of transparency in discretionary discounts makes it unnecessarily difficult and more costly for borrowers to discover the best price offers,” says the ACCC.

“This adversely impacts borrowers’ willingness to shop around, either for a new residential mortgage or when they are contemplating switching their existing residential mortgage to another lender. The unnecessarily high cost that prospective borrowers incur to discover price information from lenders causes inefficiency.”

How effective is this tactic?

Extremely so.

The rate of borrowers switching lenders remained extremely low last financial year.

In fact, less than 4% of borrowers with variable rate residential mortgages with the top five banks refinanced to another lender, says the ACCC.

That’s just 1 in every 25 mortgages.

(It’s also worth noting that only 11% of people got a better home loan deal from their current bank by either asking for it or being offered it.)

“The big four banks profit from the suppression of borrower incentives to shop around and lack strong incentives to make prices more transparent,” says the ACCC.

How much are these opaque tactics costing some borrowers?

In two words: A lot.

The ACCC believes an existing borrower with an average-sized residential mortgage who negotiates to pay the same interest rate as the average new borrower could initially save up to $850 a year in interest.

“This could add up to tens of thousands of dollars over the full term of their residential mortgage in net present value terms,” the ACCC adds.

So will the banks stop doing it?

Unlikely. Well, anytime soon that is. Here’s what the ACCC say about it:

“At least one Inquiry Bank appears to be aware of borrower frustration with discretionary pricing. There is little evidence of any Inquiry Bank responding to that frustration by moving away from the practice,” the ACCC says.

“More generally, the Inquiry Banks, particularly the big four banks, lack a strong incentive to reduce the cost that prospective borrowers incur to discover price information because they profit from the suppression of borrowers’ incentives to shop around.”

So what can I do about it then?

That’s the easy part. Get in touch with us to discuss your refinancing and/or renegotiating options.

By teaming up with us, not only can you save yourself the headache of having to research what each lender’s best available discount is, we will happily negotiate for it on your behalf.

So if you’re interested in potentially cutting down the amount of interest you pay each year, give us a call today.

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By Dave Fleming : 17 September, 2019

APRA to Remove Restrictions on
Interest-Only Home Loans

Sydney mortgage brokerHere’s some good news to kick off 2019: APRA is removing its restrictions on interest-only residential mortgage lending from January 1.

The restrictions were put in place as a temporary measure by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) back in March 2017 to encourage lenders to adopt sound lending practices.

So why are they being removed now?

APRA’s announcement comes just weeks after CoreLogic figures showed Australia’s housing market recorded its weakest conditions since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

National dwelling values slipped by 0.7% over the month, led by Sydney where the drop was double the national average.

As such, many pundits believe the restrictions are being lifted to prevent the housing market from sinking further.

APRA, however, is claiming it’s simply a case of ‘mission accomplished’.

It says the restrictions have already led to a marked reduction in interest-only lending, which is now significantly below the target of 30% of all home loans that lenders issue.

Is the restriction removed for all lenders?

Most, but not all.

Earlier this year APRA announced it would remove its 10% restriction on investor loan growth for lenders who could prove they had strong lending standards.

Lenders who have passed this test will also no longer face restrictions on interest-only home loans.

But for lenders that haven’t yet proven the strength of their lending standards, the restrictions will remain in place until they do so.

“APRA’s lending benchmarks on investor and interest-only lending were always intended to be temporary,” says APRA Chairman Wayne Byres.

“Both have now served their purpose of moderating higher risk lending and supporting a gradual strengthening of lending standards across the industry over a number of years.”

What does this mean for you?

With the restrictions lifted, it should now be easier for borrowers to secure an interest-only loan from January 1.

If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, give us a call. We’d love to help out.

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Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

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