Nearly everyone is suffering in some way or another from the COVID-19 pandemic. Even those not directly infected by the illness are seeing their livelihoods dry up as businesses are forced to close, or simply have no customers due to social distancing and other preventative measures. For some workers, especially those who have been laid off or stood down, the immediate financial future looks bleak. Mindful of the difficulties which Australians are facing at this time, the majority of banks have put in place measures to help. From pausing home loan payments through to low interest borrowing, banks offer a range of options. Detailed below are the mortgage choices offered by the main banks, as well as some additional information regarding how best to apply for assistance.
Up to six months home loan pause
Banks across the country are offering customers up to six months mortgage free. This means that, for that period of time, your home loan will not be classed as in arrears if you don’t pay it. This is important, as normally arrears would affect your credit rating. This will not happen if you take a home loan pause due to the coronavirus pandemic. Note that this doesn’t mean that you won’t accrue interest. Interest will continue to be charged on your balance. When you start paying instalments again, each one will be a little higher to take account of the outstanding interest. In addition, your home loan will take six months more to pay off.
St George Bank
- home loan holders who have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak can benefit from an initial 3-month home loan pause, which can be extended to 6 months if required.
- home loan owners are being offered up to three years of fixed-rate interest home loan repayments.
- open to new customers as well as existing ones, the bank is offering a term deposit which pays 1.7% pa (2.0% pa for customers over 65). Interest can be paid monthly, effectively giving users a regular income which can tide them over.
Note that St George bank has a dedicated call centre to help customers access online and telephone banking: both far more convenient forms of account management during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- this bank is offering a 6-month home loan pause, with interest accruing whilst the loan is paused.
- they are also providing a 2.29% APR fixed term interest rate for up to three years on home loans.
- home loan holders have the option to reduce their monthly direct debit, rather than pause their repayments completely.
- the 12-month term deposit rate of interest will be increased to 1.7%. Particularly for older people, this can be used to hopefully provide a regular income. The account is open to existing and fresh customers. Any amount between $5000 and $2 million can be deposited.
- criteria for personal borrowing will be widened, allowing more people to benefit.
- the bank has also put in place measures to assist businesses affected by COVID-19.
Macquarie Bank, in a similar way to Commonwealth Bank, is allowing home loan holders a six-month pause on their home loan. Interest still accrues during the pause, and the full balance on interest and repayment products will still need to be paid.
- customers are able to pause their home loans for a maximum of six months, with the option to start paying again after three months. Interest continues to accrue during the pause and will need to be paid back.
- a 10-month deposit at 1.75% is available to existing customers. Suitable for balances of $5000 to $2 million, this is intended to provide a source of short-term income.
- preferential interest rates on fixed-term home loan products, up to a maximum of five years.
- the bank will allow some customers to take out money that they’d already paid towards a loan: many customers pay forward and are several months in advance with their payments – redrawing allows them to have fast cash for immediate expenses without compromising their loan repayments.
- reduced loan repayments.
The contact information for NBA is as follows:
Business – 1300 769 650 (Monday to Friday 8am-6pm AEST/AEDT)
Personal – 1300 683 106 (Monday to Friday 8am-8pm AEST/AEDT; and Saturday 9am-1pm
If you need further advice or assistance, our home loan specialist is here to help. Pherrus Financial Services is an accounting firm that has expertise in a wide range of financial matters. Our accountant professionals and home loan advisers are here for you. Please get in touch to find out more.