I’ve refinanced my home loan twice in the last three years. Each time I refinanced I got a much better deal, and earned cashback in the process. But on both occasions there were several things I knew by the end of the process that I wish I’d known at the start (how long it can take for starters).
Below, I outline step-by-step how the process worked for me. Every refinance will be different, but this will give you an idea of what to expect. There are also nuggets of wisdom sprinkled through from Money.com.au’s home loan expert, Mansour Soltani, a mortgage broker who has helped countless homeowners refinance.
10 steps for refinance a home loan
Most people use a mortgage broker when getting a home loan or refinancing (70% is the number usually quoted). Having refinanced with and without the help of a broker, I can see why.
A broker can potentially save you a lot of time. Particularly if your application is complicated or you’re unsure whether you’ll be eligible. For example if...
The flip side is a broker only has access to their specific panel of lenders, not all providers. There’s a decent chance you will be able to find a cheaper loan by comparing yourself, assuming you are prepared to put in the work.
You can always hedge your bets and see what a broker can bring to the table and ultimately go it alone if you feel you can do better (which was ultimately what I did the second time I refinanced).
Most lenders set the interest rates on their loans based on the borrower’s LVR. Knowing roughly what your LVR is gives you an idea of where to focus your search.
To work out your LVR, divide your current loan balance by the value of your property and multiply that number by 100.
You can get an estimate of your property’s value through a property report. Google ‘free property report’, and you should be able to get one easily (you may have to hand over your email address for the privilege).
Basically I just wanted a better version of the same kind of loan. But you can also refinance to a different loan structure or type, such as:
You can do this through our refinance home loans guide which lists top offers and tips on finding the best deal. In summary, the main things I was looking at when I refinanced were:
A mortgage broker will do the comparing for you (among the lenders they work with) and then present you with their recommended options.
Here’s the one I received when I refinanced with a broker…
This is the form you need to submit to instruct your current lender that you are leaving. But there is a very speficic reason for requesting it at this stage, according to Money.com.au’s home loans expert, Mansour Soltani.
“After you request a discharge form, you will get a call from your lender's retention team. If you have a competitive rate from another lender ready to quote to them, more often than not, they will match it to keep your business.”
In some cases, this is where the process ends as you will have secured a better deal. But if you decide you still want to switch…
Once you’ve chosen a new loan, you usually get the ball rolling by submitting an enquiry with the lender. Typically, you get a call back from a mortgage specialist who talks you through the process and asks initial questions to gauge your eligibility.
They’ll explain what you’ll need to submit as part of your application.
If you refinance through a broker, they'll gather information from you and submit the application. Otherwise, you’ll need to do it yourself, which took me about an hour from start to finish.
That included gathering documents I needed to submit along with the form:
You may need to print your completed application form, sign it and scan before you send it off. As someone who does not have a printer at home, this was a pain but not a deal breaker.
The lender will go through your application in detail and check your bank account statements line by line. For each of my past applications, I was asked to clarify specific points or provide extra detail.
“What a lot of people don’t realise is if you have a bank account and the balance goes negative and you’re charged debit fees, this will show up on your statements and is a red flag for lenders about how you manage your finances.”
Mansour Soltani, Money.com.au's home loan expert
The lender will also do a credit check and order a valuation of your property.
This doesn’t always involve a physical inspection of the property but it did both times for me. Be sure to highlight any recent improvements to your property that might bump up the valuer’s appraisal.
If the valuation is high enough that your LVR meets the loan eligibility criteria, your loan will be fully approved.
You’ll need to sign the loan discharge form and submit it to your old lender. In a lot of cases, the new lender or your mortgage broker will take care of this. All you need to do is sign the form.
Once the old loan is discharged, the new one is settled. Basically that means your new lender pays off your old loan. The old loan is then closed, and your new lender opens a loan account for you.
Job done? Not quite.
As a final step, make sure your loan is set up so you’re paying as little interest as possible. Here are a handful of super quick changes to consider, courtesy of home loans expert Mansour.
|Refinance 1 (January 2021)||Refinance 2 (March 2023)|
Used a mortgage broker?
How long did refinancing take?
Around 8 weeks from start to finish
Around 6 weeks from start to finish
Switched from Commbank to Suncorp
Switched from Suncorp to BCU Bank
Previous interest rate
2.99% p.a. (variable)
1.89% p.a. (fixed for 2 year)
1.89% p.a. (fixed for 2 years)
4.99% p.a. (fixed for 1 year)
Change in fortnightly payments after refinancing
-$288 ($7,488 annually)
+$503 ($13,078 annually, ouch*)
Discharge fees on old loan
$200 (would have been more but Suncorp reduced it as a goodwill gesture)
Fees on new loan
$375 annual loan fee
This could be as simple as asking to be moved to a different product if the lender has a better deal available. However, if you’re changing the structure or type of loan, you will typically still need to complete an application which will be subject to approval.
Examples could include:
How long refinancing a home loan takes will depend, but generally it will take a several weeks to complete from start to finish. Refinancing with your own bank will likely be faster.
When you refinance a home loan, several fees could apply, including:
Fees charged by your existing lender:
Fees charged by your new lender:
A lot of the time, it’s possible to negotiate with your new lender to reduce or remove the upfront costs of the new loan. Or if the lender is offering cashback for people who refinance with them, this will likely outweigh any cost.
Yes, it’s possible to refinance even if you’re on a fixed-rate loan. However, there is usually a fee for breaking the fixed term. This can be several hundred dollars depending on the loan, so it’s worth thinking carefully whether refinancing will be worth it.
If you are on a very uncompetitive fixed-rate loan with a decent chunk of time still to go on it, paying the break fee may ultimately be a smart move.
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