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Mortgage Advice Blog

Get the latest news and tips about mortgage finance and the property market. Scott Miller, mortgage broker from Advanced Mortgage Solutions comments on housing and lending.

August's Property Gazette

Published by Scott Miller on Monday, August 03, 2015 in

To break or not to break…

There has been a lot of media attention on interest rates lately, with another cut in the Official Cash Rate to 3.00% people are beginning to question their mortgage decisions, specifically whether or not to break out of their fixed term rates and either float or fix at a lower rate.

Fixed rates are a good way to budget your mortgage however you cannot always make extra payments or pay off your loan without generating a ‘break fee’. It has been very attractive for home owners to fix for longer lengths of time. Fixed rates have been a way to lock in a perceived ‘good’ rate for a longer period of time. Hopefully riding out any increases along the way.

With this continued reduction in rates those on longer 3, 4, 5 year fixed terms are now looking at other options, especially as the floating rate is around the 6% mark which may be less than the older fixed rate.

Although floating rates change depending on the Official Cash Rate (OCR) they are a lot more flexible than a fixed rate. You can pay off more of your mortgage without any financial penalties that would occur on a fixed rate. For instance if you wanted to add an extra $100 per month to your mortgage payments, you can do this on your floating rate and enjoy the interest you will be saving in the long run.

A structured mortgage that has a mix of floating and fixed rates can ride out the interest rate changes. Although you may end up paying a bit more to float your loan, you can still take advantage of the floating loans ability to make extra payments should you wish to pay more off and save in the long-term.

Breaking a fixed mortgage

For those that have signed up for a fixed rate and want to ‘break’ this mortgage to take advantage of the lower rates, you would want to make sure that the savings are substantial enough to warrant the break fee. Banks use a complex formula to work out break fees and I recommend you give us a call to discuss this.

As an illustration Westpac have the following scenarios on their website:

18 months ago John and Mary had a $200,000 home loan with 25 years left in its term, and they signed a contract for a fixed rate of 7% for 3 years. Their regular repayments are $1,414 per month. They now have another 18 months left to run on their fixed rate home loan.

If they break their home loan now the fixed rate break cost will be approximately $14,500.

Scenario 1: Paying off their loan

John and Mary decide to pay off their loan in full because they sell their home, and do not repurchase. The break cost will need to be paid immediately.

Scenario 2: Switching to a lower interest rate

John and Mary decide to break their fixed rate home loan because they want to go to a new lower rate of 18 months at 5.85%. The break cost will need to be paid immediately.

Their monthly regular loan repayment will reduce by $144 per month and they will save approximately $2,592 in interest over the next 18 months.

Scenario 3: Switching to a lower interest rate and adding the break cost to the loan

John and Mary decide to break their fixed rate home loan because they want to go to a new lower rate of 18 months at 5.85%. However they can't afford to pay the break cost upfront, so they decide to increase their loan to cover the cost.

Their monthly loan repayment will reduce by $52 and they will save $936 in interest over the next 18 months. However, at the end of 18 months their loan will be almost $14,500 higher.

The above scenarios are demonstrative examples and do not take into account your personal situation or goals. Every loan transaction differs, so please feel free to contact us to review your specific loan situation.

To see if it is worth breaking your loan please contact us and we can approach the lender to ascertain whether it’s mathematically worth it or not.

 

Budget 2010

Published by Scott Miller on Saturday, May 22, 2010 in


There is a good chance you will be thinking - How does the 2010 budget affect me?

In this newsletter I will cover off some of the affects Thursday's budget will have in relation to owning property, both for owner occupiers and for investment property portfolio owners.

The Budget and what does it mean for property owners?

Owner Occupiers:

Basically not a lot has changed if you own your own home. Because home owners are exempt from claiming things like depreciation on their homes, losses against personal income, and don't usually derive an income from their home, most of the changes will not influence your day to day expenses (excluding things like the increase in GST etc).

The IRD still have their task force looking into owners who have placed their ‘principle place of residence’ (their own home) in an LAQC and are claiming loses as an expenses. This is illegal and the IRD/Government is taking this form of tax evasion very seriously. If you find yourself in this position I recommend you seek advice from an accountant immediately - putting one's head in the sand will not make it go away.

Investment Property:

In contrast there have been a number of changes (as expected) for those of us who own an investment property portfolio. However these changes are less dramatic than most of the pre-budget hype, speculation, and downright irresponsible dribble that was being circulated. So let’s cover of the main facts.

1)Depreciation on buildings has been removed unless the building’s life expectancy from new is less than 50 years. A list of such buildings is being made available and an application process for people who believe they fall under this criteria is being established. Personally when talking about residential property I cannot think of a reason where I would want to construct a property that would only last for 50 years. Its resale value for one would not be particularly high. There may be areas where sleep outs or minor dwellings are popular allowing for this kind of building and subsequent depreciation may take place?

2) One of the more annoying ‘the world is coming to an end’ forecasts around the changes to take place in the 2010 budget included ring fencing of losses within an LAQC. This would have meant that any losses incurred through owning a negatively geared property portfolio held in a LAQC could no longer be offset against your personal income tax. Although there has been some suggested changes (this is not law yet and is subject to change) to LAQC’s for the majority of us it will have no effect. This is due to the lenders of New Zealand making it compulsory for the directors of an LAQC to give personal guarantees for the loan the LAQC is being structured over.

 

The following is from Matthew Gilligan of Gilligan Rowe and Associates - one of New Zealand’s leading property accounting firms.


 Paragraph 5.11 states a member's interest (in the proposed new LAQC regime) would extend to include in the definition of equity the share of any debt guaranteed by the shareholder.

This means that if you are a guarantor, you get to claim losses up to the extent of your equity invested PLUS your guarantee. As shareholders will guarantee (most of the time) all of the debt, the structure will get full flow through of losses up to

100% of the value of the amount of debt they have guaranteed, or cash injected - the higher of the two.

 Therefore effectively existing LAQC users will get the benefit of losses flowing through, provided they are guarantors to the debt.

 Remember this is all subject to submission and not law yet.

The other major change regarding LAQC’s is around the tax paid when an LAQC starts making a profit. At present if you make a profit in an LAQC the maximum tax rate you will incur is 30% (company tax rate). However proposed changes will see this rate change to match your personal tax rate. So if you (under the new tax rate affective in October) earn $70,000.00+ you will be taxed at 33% and so will your profits from your LAQC. This is seen as making the tax system more fare and will limit tax avoidance through LAQC structures.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or thoughts on what I have written above.


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