Fixed vs variable
“Fixed or variable” is a question that we receive on an almost daily basis.
There really isn’t a simple answer because nobody can predict the future of interest rates.
Low fixed rates due to COVID-19
Fixed rates are unusually low due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, please read our page on why fixed rates are so low for more information.
How do I fix my home loan?
With most lenders, you can simply give them a call and they can fix your interest rate over the phone.
Give us a call on 1300 889 743 before you fix just to make sure you are making the right decision.
We may be able to get you a better interest rate with another lender!
When is fixing a bad idea?
A fixed rate home loan works in a very different way to a variable rate home loan.
You’ll lose a lot of the flexibility and may face high exit fees if you make changes to your loan or make extra repayments during the fixed rate period.
Don’t fix your loan if:
- You need to make large extra repayments on your loan.
- You plan to sell your property within the fixed term.
- You plan to refinance your home loan within the fixed term.
- You plan to renovate or build a new home and plan to use equity within the fixed period.
- You don’t like being locked in with a particular lender or loan product.
What restrictions do fixed rate loans have?
- Your extra repayments are limited; usually to no more than $10,000 p.a. before penalties apply.
- You may not be allowed to link an offset account to your loan.
- You may not be allowed to redraw any additional payments that you have already made.
- You may have to pay significant exit fees (break fees) if you make extra repayments, refinance, change loan types, sell your property or pay off your loan.
However, there are some lenders that allow you to retain full flexibility with a fixed rate loan.
Please call us on 1300 889 743 or fill in our online enquiry form and mortgage brokers can help you choose the right home loan product for you.
What are break fees?
If you make a large loan payment, switch back to a variable rate or close your loan account, then you may need to pay a fee to the bank for breaking out of the fixed rate contract. These fees are known as break fees, an early repayment adjustment or an economic cost.
WARNING: Break fees can be very significant, often in excess of $10,000 and, in some cases, in excess of $100,000! You can read more about this on our fixed rate break fees page.
They can often split your loan into two loan accounts and then fix one of those accounts, this allows you to keep part of your loan variable so you can retain some flexibility.
Some lenders require that you fill in a form, if you only want to fix only a part of your loan.
Should you change banks?
The banks are constantly in competition with each other on their fixed interest rates and in many cases one or two banks will have a special for 3-year and 5-year fixed rate loans.
So it’s not likely that your bank will be the cheapest at the time you fix.
Please call us on 1300 889 743 or enquire online and one of our mortgage brokers can give you a quote for the best current fixed rate loans from our lending panel.
If your bank refuses to match these rates then it may be worthwhile for us to refinance your loan to another lender.
Don’t forget about professional discounts!
If your home loan is under a professional package then you may receive an automatic 0.15% or 0.20% discount off the interest rate.
Often when you call your bank to get a quote on their fixed rates, they will tell you this is a special discount given to you because you’re a valued customer.
In actual fact, they will give you this discount automatically. If you want a better discount you’ll have to negotiate it by threatening to leave the bank.
How much should you fix?
You should try to calculate how much you’re likely to pay off your home loan over the fixed rate term and then keep that portion of your loan variable. This allows you to make extra repayments on the variable rate portion without incurring any break fee penalties.
It’s common for our customers to fix their entire loan if they are a property investor, as most of them do not make additional repayments on their home loan.
However, if they are fixing the loan over their home, it’s more common for them to fix only a portion of their loan to allow them to continue to retain flexibility and to have an offset account linked to the variable rate portion.
How long should you fix for?
The longer you fix your loan, the higher the premium you will pay for the security of a fixed interest rate.
Most people choose their fixed rate term based on what they believe the future of interest rates will be, and when they expect their circumstances or needs may change, so that they may need to refinance their loan, make a large payment off the loan or sell their property.
You should assess your own future personal needs before you decide on fixed vs variable.
Should you rate lock your loan?
If you’re setting up a new loan or refinancing to another lender then you should consider rate locking your loan at the time of application. Otherwise, you’ll get the interest rate at the time of settlement and not the interest rate at the time you apply for the loan.
Often the fixed rate changes significantly between when you apply and when you settle your loan.
How does rate lock work?
- Your interest rate is held for 60 – 90 days at the time you apply for your loan.
- Depending on the lender, you may get a lower rate if interest rates fall.
- You will not pay a higher rate if interest rates rise before your loan is advanced.
- You will pay a once off fee of around 0.15% of the loan amount to lock in your rate.
Did you know that some lenders have free rate lock?
The devil is in the detail with some lenders not applying a rate fall should rates drops before your loan is advanced!
Choose your lender carefully and read the fine print before you apply.
Call us before you fix
Our mortgage brokers are here to help our customers for the life of their loan. If you’re one of our existing customers, please speak to your mortgage broker.
If you’re not yet a customer of the Home Loan Experts and would like to refinance to the most competitive lender, please call us on 1300 889 743 or enquire online and one of our mortgage brokers will call you to discuss how you can get the best interest rate around for your home loan.
We can help you make a decision on fixed or variable.