August 2015's Property Gazette
To Break or Not to Break a Fixed Mortgage
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.
We were made to feel comfortable throughout the whole process.Leonard and Elsa Gardner - 20 October 2015 - 20 October 2015
As a visual person, I found the steps/diagrams illustrated by Scott extremely easy to follow.Divya Nair and Abhijith Sukumaran - 10 April 2019
Keep up the fantastic work Scott! Always a pleasure to deal with!Rachael and Jason Tobeck - 22 October 2019