In our home loan application guide:
Applying for a home loan can be straightforward when you know how the process works from start to finish. Our guide covers everything you need to know.
It’s important to get your finances in order before you apply for a home loan. This includes building a history of savings, paying down debts and doing initial research on home loan options that may be suitable for you. Here’s what to do before you apply for a home loan:
You’ll generally need a deposit saved before a lender considers your home loan application, unless you apply with a guarantor (in which case you may be eligible for a no deposit home loan). You can use a high interest savings account or term deposit with a high rate to help you grow your savings faster.
The bigger your deposit, generally the more you can borrow. Most lenders require a minimum deposit of 10%, but the standard is 20% of the value of the property to avoid lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI). There are government grants and initiatives, like the Home Guarantee Scheme (HGS), which can help eligible home buyers buy a home with a deposit of as little as 5% (or 2% for single parents) without paying LMI. It’s available through participating banks.
You should aim to pay down any outstanding debts and reduce any credit limits at least 12 months before you apply for a home loan. Every $10,000 of debt you clear can increase your borrowing capacity by $100,000, according to Mansour Soltani, Money.com.au's home loan expert. This can show financial responsibility which lenders look for in borrowers. Avoid taking out unnecessary credit in the meantime.
Check your credit file for any red flags or errors that could potentially impact your credit score or affect your ability to secure a home loan with a competitive interest rate. You can request a free copy of your credit report from any of the main credit bureaus in Australia (e.g. Equifax, illion and Experian) every three months.
This is how much a lender may be prepared to lend you based on your income and broader financial situation. Understanding your borrowing capacity can help you set a realistic budget and expectations when shopping for a home. You can use an online calculator from any lender to estimate your borrowing capacity. According to the ABS, the average size of new home loans in Australia is $599,000 for owner-occupiers.
Your loan-to-value ratio (LVR) is your loan amount as a percentage of your property's value. For example, if you want to buy a home for $600,000 with a deposit of $120,000, you’d need to borrow $480,000 from the bank, resulting in an 80% LVR. An LVR above 80% will generally incur LMI. LVR is lenders' most important metric when assessing your home loan application and home loan interest rate, according to Mansour Soltani, Money.com.au's home loan expert.
Research different banks and non-bank lenders and their mortgage products. Which lenders offer the lowest rates? Which have first-home buyer incentives or cashback offers if you’re refinancing? Be sure to compare the different home loan features, terms and conditions of each product. Being informed about what’s available from multiple providers may empower you to negotiate with your lender during your application.
“Work with a professional who’s up to date with all home loan types available and the banks’ changing appetite for certain risks. Otherwise, you could end up contacting the wrong lender, getting rejected or ending up with a rate that’s not competitive. Alternatively, you could end up with a financial product that’s not suited to your life stage and that can put you years behind.”
Mansour Soltani, Money.com.au's home loan expert
When applying for a home loan, you’ll need to provide some paperwork to verify your personal and financial information. Here are some of the documents lenders will ask you for during your home loan application:
You’ll be required to satisfy the 100 points of ID system when applying for a home loan. You’ll be asked to provide at least one primary photographic form of ID (e.g. passport or driver’s licence), and one non-photographic form (e.g. birth certificate), as well as secondary documents like a Medicare card, bank statements and utility bills.
Primary documents (70 points)
|Primary documents (40 points)|
|Secondary documents (40 points)|
|Secondary documents (25 points)|
|Primary documents (70 points)||Primary documents (40 points)||Secondary documents (40 points)||Secondary documents (25 points)|
Your lender will require some proof of income to assess your borrowing power. You may be asked to provide:
If you’re self-employed:
First-home buyers with a deposit of less than 20% may be asked to submit additional paperwork, including:
Most lenders will ask for three months of bank statements to verify your income against your living expenses. If you’re a first-home buyer, they will also check that your deposit has been accrued over time.
What lenders want to see is a genuine history of savings and responsible spending. Any late fees will be a red flag. If you want to know how your bank statements might look to a lender, try our Free Bank Statement Health Check.
Be prepared to have to explain any mismatch in your earnings and expenditures. Whether it’s a recent car purchase or a cash gift from family (in which case you’ll need a letter from your benefactor), it’s important to indicate this to your lender for full transparency.
Your lender will also ask for a summary of your debts and assets to calculate your debt-to-income ratio (the percentage of your monthly gross income going towards debts) and assess your ability to repay a home loan.
Here’s a snapshot of what’s considered a debt or an asset
Credit card limits
Money in a savings account or term deposit
Investments (e.g. shares, mutual funds, bonds)
An existing home loan
Cars and other vehicles
Buy now, pay later (BNPL) accounts
Plant, machinery, livestock, etc
You’ll be asked some basic questions about your finances, deposit or equity (if you’re refinancing) and the type of property you want to buy. Based on this information, your lender will estimate how much you can borrow and at what rate.
It’s usually quicker to apply for a home loan online via the lender’s website, but you can alternatively book an appointment with a home lending specialist if you prefer to speak to a person, are self-employed (different eligibility requirements apply), or generally have questions about the process. You can apply for a home loan directly with a lender or through a mortgage broker.
The lender will give you a list of paperwork you need to submit, including payslips, bank statements, identification documents, etc. A home loan specialist will verify your income against your expenses and liabilities to more accurately assess your borrowing capacity. They will apply an additional serviceability buffer of 3% (to ensure you can still afford your mortgage if interest rates rise). It’s best to collect all necessary documents in advance to help speed up the process.
The lender may conduct a ‘soft’ credit check to flag any potential issues with your credit file early or may opt to complete a ‘hard’ credit check (which impacts your credit score) from the get-go. That’s when a home loan specialist will check your credit report for any outstanding debts, missed payments or defaults. Keep in mind lenders have to ask your permission before conducting an official credit check, in accordance with the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009.
Your credit report will generally contain the following information:
After your financial information is validated, you may be granted pre-approval on your home loan (or conditional approval). This means the lender has agreed in principle to lend you a specific amount of money based on the information provided and subject to conditions. You'll receive a pre-approval letter from your lender stating the maximum loan amount you qualify for and your interest rate.
Pre-approval is valid for up to three months, depending on the lender. Keep in mind home loan pre-approval is not a formal loan approval, and a lender may still deny your application if your circumstances change.
Once you've found a home you want to buy and made a successful offer, the lender will conduct a valuation of the property to determine its market value and your LVR. This can be an electronic valuation based on previous comparable sales data or it could involve a physical inspection.
After your contract of sale is signed and your property valuation is conducted, you can get unconditional approval (or full approval). You’ll have to confirm your financial situation hasn’t changed since you were given pre-approval before your home loan application can be finalised.
Your lender will issue a formal loan offer detailing the terms and conditions of the loan, including your rate. Review the loan offer carefully and sign it if you accept the terms.
Settlement is the finish line on your home-buying journey. It usually involves making a final pre-settlement inspection before you take over the deed (ownership of the property). Your conveyancer should manage your home loan registration and property title transfer. Your lender will be responsible for making the final payment to the seller.
The application process may vary depending on your home loan product and structure. There may also be different document and eligibility requirements depending on your lender. Here are the different home loan types available in Australia:
You may have a better chance of getting approved for a home loan if you work with a mortgage broker. That’s because they generally have a network of lenders on their books, and know the mortgage market inside and out, including what government grants you may be eligible for.
According to the latest survey by the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA), mortgage brokers facilitate about two thirds of new residential home loans. The main reasons home buyers choose to use a mortgage broker include their knowledge and expertise (17%) and because they do all the groundwork (16%), according to a survey conducted by ASIC.
If your home loan application is denied, the lender will explain why and provide suggestions on how to improve your application next time. Please remember having your home loan application rejected is not the end of the world, but it can impact your credit score. Money.com.au's home loan expert, Mansour Soltani, said you can re-apply for a home loan anytime, once the issues that caused your initial application to be declined have been resolved
According to Tiimely Home, common reasons home loan applications may be denied include:
To give you a realistic picture of the home loan process in Australia, Money.com.au analysed some of Australia's biggest lenders including:
Shopping around for the right loan can save you thousands of dollars in interest and fees.
Home Loans guides and resources
What's the next step on your property journey? Our home loan guides will help you navigate the road ahead, whether you're buying, building or looking to save on an existing loan.