Don’t fix your entire home loan interest rate | I’ll explain why
Fixing your home loan interest rates on your entire home loan will mean you repay more in interest than you should.
If there is one thing I am sure of after working in banking for most of my life, it is this – you can not beat the banks at their own game.
What I mean is, if you think you will save money or beat the system by fixing your home loan interest rate… then you will be very disappointed.
Banks offer fixed interest rates, as it is often in their benefit to lock you in – not yours.
The bankers who are setting the fixed interest rates, are also setting the variable interest rates, meaning they are calculated together to make the banks a profit.
In my experience, if you are on a reasonable variable rate, it is unlikely that by choosing a fixed rate you will save money over staying variable. I personally have fixed my home loan interest rate three times in the last 20 years, and each time, I would have been better off staying with a variable interest rate.
If you want to talk about how to choose which interest rate to go with, you can book a free 15min strategy call with me.
What is the difference between fixed and variable interest rates?
If you need to fix your home loan interest rate, then this is why you should do it on only a portion of your home loan.
There are times when I recommend fixing a portion of your home loan interest rate for a period of time.
It is almost always because you want some certainty, peace of mind and control over your home loan repayments as you know what your outgoings will be.
If you are living off a tight budget for a period of time, then fixing can be beneficial for you.
For example if you are going on maternity leave or taking time off work, you may not be able to afford the extra repayments if home loan interest rates rise – or more likely – you may simply not want to be awake at night stressing about it.
Fortunately, you can choose to fix a portion of your home loan, known as a ‘split’.
For example on a $500,000 loan you might fix the interest rate on $400,000 for a period of 3 years and leave $100,000 on a variable interest rate. This means 80% of your home loan repayments are set and the remaining will vary.
This is almost always a better option than fixing the interest rate on the entire home loan.
This way you can benefit from mostly stable home loan repayments…. plus you can make extra repayments into the variable portion on your home loan and access this money if you need it, without paying a fee!
Take note though, if you want to make extra home loan repayments, you will need an offset account or redraw (they usually come together). Have a mortgage broker explain how it can work for your situation.
Case study: fixing home loan interest rates cost these queenslanders $1,973 in one year.
I’ve met with a family who owned a home in McDowall, in Brisbane, which they bought 2 years ago.
This family had $482,000 owing on their home loan, all of which was on a fixed interest rate for a period of three years. They got their home loan direct with their bank of 11 years.
Their financial situation at the time I met them was as follows:
This family signed up to this home loan because the bank said it was their ‘lowest home loan interest rate’.
In other words, this family fixed their interest rate on their entire loan because they thought they were getting a good deal.
What they should have done instead
Because this family were really good savers, they had accumulated $43,000 in savings in the two years they had been living in their new home.
This was sitting in an online high interest saver, earning basically no interest (well $1.24 a week to be more accurate).
Now if instead their home loan had a portion set as a variable interest rate – and they also had either a redraw or an offset account as features – they could have placed the $43,000 into the offset account.
This would have reduced their loan by $43,000 – so their loan repayments would be lower as they only pay interest on the balance of the loan ($482,000 less $43,000).
In fact, having the $43,00 in savings in their offset account for one year would have saved them $1,973 a year in interest (which is about $37.96 per week V less than $2 they were earning in the high interest saver).
My advice: Choose the right home loan for your personal circumstances and never fix the home loan interest rate on 100% of your home loan. Something seemingly simple can impact you in a big way.
If you want to learn more about home loans, start here with this post on the 13 game changers for first home buyers, or this one on when to refinance, or you may prefer this one on the steps to buy a home.