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Banks put the breaks on small-deposit mortgages

Samantha Menzies
Senior editor – Finance

Banks have put the brakes on lending to people with small deposits, slashing the number of mortgage products with a maximum loan-to-value ratio (LVR) of 95 per cent in the past three years.

According to RateCity, fewer than a third (32 per cent) of home loans now offer lending up to a maximum of 95 per cent of the value of the property.

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That’s down from 76 per cent of all loans on offer in early 2015, in line with lending guidelines by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, who want loans with small deposits to be the exception, rather than the rule.

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In fact, RateCity spokesperson Sally Tindall said banks are actively looking for deposits of 20 per cent, if not more.

“For Australians battling to crack into the highly competitive home loan market, low-deposit loans have been a doorway in. But the rules have changed and now borrowers that might have been given the green light three years ago are starting to be turned away,” she said.

RateCity research shows that upgrading from a 5 per cent deposit to a 20 per cent deposit on a $500,000 mortgage will require a buyer to stump up an extra $75,000 in cash.

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“These new LVR requirements will set a lot of potential buyers back, because they just don’t have access to that kind of money,” Tindall said.

“But the alternative is worse. Stretching yourself thin at record-low interest rates can be a recipe for disaster.”

“It’s been over seven years since we’ve experienced an RBA rate hike and people have become complacent. These new LVR rules will sharpen the focus of those who are serious about securing housing finance.”