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Family Guarantee: Avoiding Lenders Insurance

April 19th, 2011 No Comments
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When you know you have enough income to pay mortgage payments each month, but you simply don’t have enough money saved up to make a good deposit, this can be an extremely frustrating situation to deal with. You might be able to get approved for a mortgage with little or no down payment, but you’ll be forcing yourself to pay for unnecessary costs like lender’s insurance, and possibly a higher interest rate.
Thankfully, avoiding lenders insurance is possible even if you don’t have a deposit saved up. If you have family with equity in a home of their own, or real estate that they are financially responsible for, you might not need to make a deposit at all. This is possible through something called a family guarantee.

Why Banks Require Lender’s Insurance

Before we discuss how a family guarantee can help you avoid lenders insurance, allow us to discuss why it exists in the first place. When a bank decides how to approach a borrower, they perform a complex calculation based on rules that determine how much of a risk you are to them.

As such, a bank has to plan ahead to deal with these risks. If you were to take out a home loan, only to find yourself in a situation where you could no longer pay it off, the bank finds itself in a precarious situation. They home now belongs to them, but it is of no value to them unless they sell it.

Banks are not home salesman, and they are not able to sell the home at its maximum value. In many cases, the bank is forced to sell the home for a loss. This is why they ask for a deposit in the first place. The deposit protects the bank from these losses.

But the bank does not feel protected from those losses if the deposit is too small. They have to find that protection elsewhere, so they hire an insurer. These lender’s insurance companies will cover the losses to the bank if you are no longer able to make your mortgage payments.

Of course, the bank has no reason to pay for the cost of lenders insurance themselves. If that were the only option, they would only lend out to people who could offer a large enough deposit. The banks don’t see it that way, however. They can simply ask the borrower to pay for the lenders insurance, and most borrowers who haven’t saved up a deposit are happy to do so, because they would rather not wait any longer.

How a Family Guarantee Resolves the Issue

With a family guarantee, the risks faced by the bank can be alleviated without making a large deposit and without paying for lender’s insurance. Through this process, the family member agrees to act as a guarantor. They are usually a parent, but they could also be a sibling or a grandparent. They then choose how much of the loan they will secure.

In most cases, the figure chosen is close to 20%. This is because 20% is the size of a deposit necessary in order to avoid lender’s insurance. While no deposit is needed in this case, the family guarantee serves the same purpose to the bank. Essentially, the family member is agreeing that they will be held liable for this amount of the loan if you fail to make your payments on time. They need to back up this claim using equity in a home of their own, or an investment property.

Assessing guarantor credit history is an important part of this process. Not only will the borrower be required to submit documentation. The guarantor will need to do so as well. They will also need to prove that they are financially and legally independent of you.

Benefits of a Family Guarantee

The most obvious benefit is that the borrower is not required to make a down payment in order to avoid or reduce the costs of lender’s insurance. This means that you will be able to buy a home sooner than you would otherwise be able to. You will be able to borrow for the full value of the home without any concerns, including the extra expenses (which usually amount to about 5% of the value of the home).

There are benefits to the guarantor as well. Not only are they able to help their family member buy a home, they can do so with very little risk to themselves. The situation is entirely different from cosigning a loan, which means that the family member could be held liable for the value of the entire home. They are only liable for the value that they have explicitly stated they are willing to secure.

Releasing the guarantee is also possible within a relatively short period of time. If the family member chose to secure 20% of the value of the home, for example, they could be released from the guarantee once 20% of the value of the home had been paid off. They could even be released if the value of the home increased by 20%.

To learn more about family guarantees, visit our website.

Commission Income Mortgages

April 14th, 2011 3 Comments
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If a large percentage of your income comes from commission, you may need to apply for a commission income mortgage. This is when the lender marks down funds that you earn from commission or bonuses as a source of income that you will be using to pay for their mortgages. Considering the financial environment, it’s not surprising that the bank considers this a risky source of annual income.

Since funds earned on commission are less likely to remain steady, banks often require a definitive paper trail to assure them that the cash flow will continue. Mainly, they want to know that you have a sustainable source of income.

If a significant amount of your income comes from commission or bonuses, it is especially helpful to get in touch with a mortgage broker. Since they have contacts in the underwriting industry, they are capable of discussing your financial situation with them directly. This means that you won’t have to bother filling out a home loan application with a lender that would never consider working with you. It also means that it will take significantly less time to find one who will.

Because of the fact that a mortgage broker knows its lenders requirements, they are able to quickly identify which bank is ideal for you after collecting your financial information. Some lenders are best suited for high income borrowers with a good credit history. Others are better suited for people who have had a less than stellar financial performance in the past, and may not have as reliable a source of income.

A broker can collect all of your financial information up front. You won’t be forced to fill out an endless barrage of paperwork. Once the broker has your information, they can typically move forward from there without requiring any additional financial information.

Many brokers will continue to work with you even after your first mortgage. They will stay updated on your financial situation, and continue to monitor the lending industry for opportunities to refinance your home loan and get an even better deal.

Why are Lenders Concerned about Commission Income?

Throughout Australia, salesmen who earn a large portion of their income through commission are turned down for home loans even if their financial situation is robust. Many banks won’t even consider dealing with somebody with a commission based income. Those who are willing to work with you will most likely want two years of documentation to demonstrate the stability of your income.

Banks prefer not to work with people who are paid based on commission because the amount of money you earn each month can vary quite dramatically, and it isn’t guaranteed. People who earn a regular salary are considered more reliable.

This is not necessarily fair. There is no such thing as a “guaranteed income” after all, because even people with a regular salary can lose employment. Regardless, this is the logic used by many lenders.

The good news is that not all lenders approach the subject the same way. There are some lenders who are willing to offer a relatively competitive home loan with as little as three months of income paperwork. Working with a broker is still highly recommended, since banks who are more liberal with who they are willing to lend to often have less than ideal interest rates and terms.

Why Some Lenders Consider Commission Income Differently

Not all banks or lenders approach commission income with the risk-averse logic described above. There are many reasons to think of a salesman who earns this type of income to be very low risk. One of the most important factors is the simple fact that you can always work harder in order to earn more. The need to pay off a mortgage is also one of the strongest motivations to work harder.

Since you are only paid significantly when you make a sale, commission based earners are viewed differently from standard employees. The more they pay you, the more money they are earning. This means that people who work on commission are rarely thought of as an “expense” the same way that most employees are. When economic conditions get worse, commission based earners are less likely to be laid off than standard employees.

Finally, most people who work on commission are very financially stable. They have a keen understanding of the way that money works, and are less likely to spend money that they don’t have.

Information You Might Need

Every lender has a different application process, but many of them require similar information. To begin with, most will require documentation of your two most recent paychecks. These need to include your total income for the year, which can be used to extrapolate your annual income.

If the payslip does not include this information, you will likely be asked to provide additional income like a tax return, a letter from the people you work for, and evidence of your sales performance over a period lasting at least three months.

Many lenders will also require at least two years of tax returns and a letter from your employer demonstrating consistent income.

Find more information about commission income mortgages.

Benefits Of Using Mortgage Brokers

April 14th, 2011 No Comments
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A couple using a mortgage brokerMortgage brokers play an important part in the success or failure of the economy. They facilitate the sale of mortgage loans, and make it easier for borrowers to find the best deal on a home loan. You can think of your broker as the middle man between you and your lender. Since it is less than easy to find the right lender for the right price, it is in your best interests to take advantage of the broker’s intimate knowledge on the subject.

The broker typically has access to contacts in the lending industry, either within a specific territory or throughout Australia. This makes it easier for them to find a good deal on a mortgage. They save you a great deal of time, and often money, in the process.

Brokers don’t work for the lending industry directly, but their clients make up a large percentage of the people who apply. Over a third of home loans in Australia involve a broker. When you take into account the fact that the industry has only existed in the country since the 1980s, this is quite an achievement.

Despite their name, a mortgage broker can also be helpful in finding a personal loan or business loan, or refinancing current loans. Many of them are now available online, allowing them to work with more clients at the same time.

Benefits of Mortgage Brokers

- You can find cheaper interest rates. The fact that the broker can negotiate on your behalf, that they have contacts throughout the industry, and that they know what type of loan suits your financial situation means that they can offer you a better deal than if you were to deal with lenders directly.

- Do we need to say it again? Brokers have contacts that you don’t. End of story.

- Brokers have exploded in popularity over the last several decades for a good reason. You get more flexibility out of a broker than you get out of any particular lender. When you are dealing with a broker, it is not unlike dealing with all possible lenders at once.

- Unlike the bank, the broker doesn’t care if you have a terrible credit record. A broker is on your side. Since your financial history is of no risk o them, they will work with you regardless of your past. They will do what they can to get you in touch with a reputable lender willing to work with you, something that is incredibly difficult to do on your own.

- Efficiency is key here. You save time, money, and effort. Best of all, from you perspective, the mortgage broker is usually free. There may be fees from time to time, but in most cases the broker is paid by the lender, meaning that your only expenses will be for the loan itself.

In Review

A mortgage broker is your representative in the world of mortgage lending. They know people in the industry, they can act on your behalf, and they can save you time and money that simply isn’t worth wasting.

What is the FIRB?

March 31st, 2011 4 Comments
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FIRB approval for an investment propertyThe Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) examines applications from overseas citizens (This includes those who live in Australia on a 457 Working Visa, and subclass 309 or 820 Temporary Resident Visas) who are looking to invest in property in Australia.
If you are looking to purchase a home to live in or an investment property you may be required to obtain FIRB approval.

Who needs to obtain FIRB approval?
In 2010 the Federal Government of Australia announced new legislation which limits exemptions for foreign citizens and temporary residents looking to purchase property in Australia.
Below is a list of those who are exempt from obtaining FIRB approval:

  • Australian citizens living overseas
  • New Zealand citizens
  • Permanent resident visa holders
  • Anyone who is married or in a de-facto relationship with an Australian citizen (not a Permanent Resident)

Please visit the FIRB website for a complete list of exempt parties.

What type of properties can I purchase?

  • Owner Occupied Property: If you are buying a home then you may be able to buy an established property (one that wasn’t recently built). You will have to sell your property if you move back to your home country or elsewhere in Australia – If you have obtained your permanent residency in the meantime then you will not be required to sell the property.
  • Investment Properties: In most cases the Australian government will approve applications to buy an investment property on the condition that it is a new property (new development or if you buy land and build a property). You can often keep an investment property if you leave Australia.

Applying for permanent residency / citizenship

It is not known by us if owning real estate in Australia in any way affects your application for citizenship. Please refer these questions to your migration agent.

When is FIRB approval required?

You should apply for FIRB “pre-approval” once you have decided to buy a property in Australia; you can then look for a property at your leisure. Your solicitor or conveyancer will usually help you with your application for FIRB approval as part of their normal services.

We recommend that you obtain FIRB pre-approval at the same time as you apply with us for your mortgage pre-approval. To find out more refer to the applying for a loan section of our website.

Do you need help with a loan?

We are mortgage brokers who specialise in financing the purchase of Australian real estate by foreigners, Australians living abroad and people temporarily residing in Australia. This includes those who live in Australia on a 457 Working Visa, and subclass 309 or 820 Temporary Resident Visas.

Please refer to our Non-Resident Finance website for information about the loans that you may qualify for.

Self Managed Super Fund Loans

February 20th, 2011 11 Comments
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SMSF investorDo you have approximately $150,000 in your Superannuation? If you do, you may be eligible for a Self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) loan to purchase real estate with your Super!

A vast number of major mortgage brokers and bank managers do not understand SMSF Loans as they are complex and they do not deal with them on a daily basis. This means that errors can be made, and loans declined purely because of their lack of understanding; as such it is strongly advised that you seek expert advice when considering Self Managed Super Fund borrowing.

There are also significant differences between policy and pricing between different banks, so speaking to a specialist mortgage broker such as The Home Loan Experts will ease the confusion that you would face dealing with the different financial institutions directly. You can find out more about their services on their Self Managed Super Fund Loan information page.

What are the benefits to borrowing in your fund?

Since the Superannuation Industry Supervision Act 1993 (SIS ACT) was amended in September of 2007, Funds now have the ability to borrow for Property Investments. This allows DIY Super Funds to take advantage of the same benefits as regular property investors.

Below are some of the benefits available to SMSF loans: (Please note: SMSF loans are also commonly referred to as Warrant Trust Loans, Instalment Warrants or SMSF Trust Loans.)

  • Reduces tax rate on rental income to 15%
  • Tax advantages on sale of investment property
  • Super Funds are able to purchase property worth more than it’s available funds through the benefit of gearing
  • You can use income from the security to help pay off the loan
  • Extensive tax deductions can be claimed by the Super Fund
  • Funds receive all income and capital growth, even if the property has not been paid off as yet
  • Superannuation assets are secure, as the lender does not have recourse to the SMSF’s other assets in the event of default

How do I purchase a property with my SMSF?

Self-managed Superannuation Funds can choose any type of property as investment; these investment properties include Commercial, Residential, Holiday Units and Retail. However, you must ensure that the property complies with the SIS ACT, the SMSF’s overall investment strategy (Superannuation funds must have a written investment strategy in place), and that the Fund has sufficient equity to complete the purchase.

Here are some basic guidelines as to how a SMSF purchases a property: (Please Note: The SMSF must purchase property from an unrelated party. Purchases must be at arm’s length.)

  • Establish your SMSF – The Trust Deed establishing the fund must have the power to Purchase Real Estate, Borrow Money, and Mortgage Property to secure payment of that borrowing
  • Obtain a loan approval – it is recommended to obtain a Pre-Approval on your Superannuation Fund before paying your deposit
  • Establish the property Trust Deed – this is something that your accountant or financial adviser will need to create. It is also important that the SMSF Trustee itself is not the Property Trustee, nor are the individual member of the SMSF are to act as Property Trustee – as this will breach the regulations of the SIS ACT
  • Exchange of Contract – deposit to be paid from Superannuation Fund
  • Formal Approval – Once Valuation on security is completed the lender will issue a Formal Approval
  • Loan Documents Issued – The lender will have their solicitor prepare loan documents and issue to you
  • Settlement – On completion of the purchase the Property Trustee mortgages the property to the lender

How is the loan structured?

The property itself is owned by a security trustee. You can click on the below picture for a detailed flowchart of how the mortgage & ownership of the property will be setup.

SMSF Trust Structure

What are the features of a Super Fund Loan?

  • Members of the SMSF are unable to reside in the investment residential property – however they can do so after retirement, providing it is transferred from the SMSF before hand
  • The lender has no recourse to the other assets of the Super Fund, providing the SMSF with absolute protection for its other assets
  • The Super Fund receives the income from the investment property
  • The legal owner of the real estate will be the Property Trustee
  • The beneficial owner of the real estate is the Super Fund
  • The Fund can make any adjustments to the property as it sees fit (e.g. Lease, renovate, repair, or sell) providing this is in conjunction with the loan terms
  • The SMSF has the ability to reduce or pay out the loan at any time (subject to the terms and conditions of the lender and loan)
  • After the loan is repaid to the lender the legal ownership of the security will be transferred to the Super Fund – repayments of the loan are made from the SMSF

Compare Lenders

Below is a quick comparison of the policies used by some the major lenders we deal with for super fund loans:

Lender 1:

  • Repayments: Principal & Interest
  • Loan Term: 30 years (residential), 15 years (commercial)
  • Maximum loan size: $4,000,000
  • Maximum LVR: 80% (residential), 65% (commercial)
  • Security: Residential or commercial

Lender 2:

  • Repayments: Principal & Interest
  • Loan Term: 25 years (residential), 15 years (commercial / rural)
  • Maximum loan size: $5,000,000
  • Maximum LVR: 80% (residential), 60% (commercial), 50% (rural)
  • Security: Residential, commercial or rural

Lender 3:

  • Repayments: Principal & Interest (fixed rates available)
  • Loan Term: 30 years (residential)
  • Maximum loan size: $500,000
  • Maximum LVR: 80% (residential)
  • Security: Residential

Seeking advice – how important is it really?

There are number of rules and regulations regarding establishing a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund and planning for your retirement.

As such it is highly recommended that you seek professional advice by selecting a qualified accountant, and a specialist mortgage broker. You can find out more about borrowing in your super fund the Home Loan Experts SMSF Trust Loan page.

It goes without saying that you should obtain professional tax and legal advice before establishing your own Super Fund, purchasing a property in a fund or applying for a mortgage with your fund.

Temporary resident mortgage

February 20th, 2011 5 Comments
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Have you recently arrived in Australia and are looking to purchase your own home?

New residents of australiaYou may be disheartened by financial institutions that keep turning you down. The simple reality is that many banks see you as a higher risk because you are not as financially committed to staying in the country as an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident. However not every lender has strict lending policies for foreign citizens living in Australia.

With the right expert advice your dream can actually become your reality! The trick is to speak to a mortgage broker such as The Home Loan Experts, who specialises in temporary resident mortgages, and knows which lenders will approve your loan.

Getting a Pre Approval

A Pre Approval is free! So why not approach a mortgage broker to see if you will qualify for a mortgage in Australia?

Once you have a Pre Approval you can start looking for a property to purchase that you can call home.
There is nothing more discouraging than finding that perfect place and then discovering that you are not able to get a home loan or you are not able to borrow as much as you thought. By sorting out your finances up front you will be free to shop for a property at your leisure.

Do I need FIRB approval to qualify for a mortgage?

Yes, you will have to obtain approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) to acquire formal approval for a mortgage. We recommend you seek FIBR approval at the same time as applying with a mortgage broker for pre approval of your mortgage.

Just like with your home loan, you can get pre approval from the FIRB to buy a property. Please note that as a temporary resident there will be restrictions placed on your purchase. For example if you decide to move back overseas then you may be required to sell the property.

If you are purchasing with an Australian Citizen and you hold either a Partner Temporary Visa (820/801), Partner Visa (826/814), Interdependency/Provisional Visa (310/110), Partner Visa-Temporary/Offshore Visa (309/100) then with some banks their standard lending policy will apply. In this case a loan for 95% LVR (95% of the purchase price) is available and FIRB approval is not required.

However if you are not buying with an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident then lenders may restrict the amount you can borrow because you have less commitment to stay in the country. The most common type of temporary residents that buy a home in Australia on their own are 457 visa holders. For more information please refer to the Temporary Business (Long Stay) page on the Home Loan Experts website.

What happens next?

Once you have found a property that you would like to purchase, and FIRB approval has been granted, you can then make an offer to purchase the property. After your offer is accepted then you will obtain final loan approval, final FIRB approval and will complete your strata (if required), pest and building inspection. The property will normally transfer into your name around six weeks after you sign the contract, depending on which state you are buying in.

Although the process of buying a home can be a little frightening when you are in a new country, you will find the final result is worth the effort. Your conveyancer and mortgage broker will work together to ensure the process is as simple and stress free as possible.

Genuine savings

February 19th, 2011 13 Comments
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What are genuine savings?

Piggy bank savingsThe majority of Australian lenders have a policy requiring you to have “genuine savings” before they will approve your mortgage. In effect, it is proof of your ability to manage your money effectively and live within your means.

Genuine savings is not necessarily money saved in a savings account, it can come in many forms and each lender has their own policies regarding what is and what is not genuine savings. As a general rule if you are borrowing over 80% LVR then you need to prove 5% of the purchase price as genuine savings.

Common genuine savings types

These types of genuine savings are regularly accepted by most major lenders:

  • Savings that have been made or held in an account for three months or more (including First Home Saver Accounts).
  • Shares or managed funds that have been held for three months or more.
  • Term deposits that have been held for three months or more.

Ideally your savings should be held in a separate account to your day to day spending and the balance of your account should be increasing over the three month period. Any large lump sum deposits during the three month period will not be considered as genuine savings.

What is not genuine savings?

The deposit for your new home can come from many different sources. The vast majority of sources that do not involve you saving the money yourself will not be considered as genuine savings. Some examples of deposit types that are not accepted as genuine savings are:

  • Financial contributions from your family or parents (e.g. gifts / loans).
  • Loan from a friend.
  • Personal loans / cash out from credit cards.
  • Vendor / builder rebates, cashbacks or discounts.
  • Pay in advance from your work.
  • Money saved in cash (i.e. not in a bank account).

As a general rule if it doesn’t meet the genuine savings criteria listed above then it will not be considered as genuine savings.

Don’t worry too much! You may qualify for a no genuine savings mortgage, if you apply with the right lender this requirement may be waived. In most cases the cost of a no genuine savings home loan is very similar to a loan with a requirement for genuine savings.

Grey areas…

The policy used by lenders to assess genuine savings is very complex, and in addition to this there are some types of savings that can be accepted on an exception basis. The secret to getting approved is to apply with a lender that accepts the type of genuine savings that you can provide.

Some examples of genuine savings that may or may not be accepted by the lender are:

  • Equity in existing real estate (i.e. you own a property already).
  • Extra repayments on your debts made over the past three to six months.
  • Rent payments (must be through a property manager and have been 12 months in your current residence).
  • Tax refund (must be currently renting to be accepted).
  • Inheritance (must be currently renting to be accepted).
  • Sale of a non-real estate asset (must be currently renting to be accepted).
  • Commission or bonuses from your job (must be currently renting to be accepted).
  • Money that comes from a non-genuine source (e.g. a gift) that have been held in a savings account for three months or more.

Please refer to the specialist mortgage brokers at the Home Loan Experts if you would like to know more about using one of these methods to prove genuine savings. You can view their page on genuine savings for more information.

Do the major banks require genuine savings?

Yes, at present all of the major banks have a requirement for genuine savings. ANZ & CBA tend to be quite strict with this requirement while Westpac (WBC), NAB & St George (SGB) have slightly more flexible policies. Please note that all of them are relatively strict when compared to lenders that do not require genuine savings at all and have similarly priced mortgages!

In addition to this the two major LMI providers Genworth and QBE LMI both have requirements for genuine savings under their standard products. Both will accept no genuine savings loans under their non-standard LMI products however the LMI premium may be higher and credit assessment will be significantly stricter.

LVR Loan to Valuation Ratio

February 19th, 2011 No Comments
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When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will calculate the Loan to Valuation Ratio (LVR) of your loan. This is an important part of their assessment criteria. The higher your LVR, the higher the risk to the bank in the event that you default on the loan.

The LVR is a simple formula based on the loan amount divided by the value of the property. It is expressed as a percentage. Please note that in most cases the purchase price of a property and the bank valuation will be the same, however if there is a difference then the bank will use the lower of the two to calculate your LVR.

Example LVR calculations

If you are applying for a mortgage of $250,000 on a property valued at $300,000 then your loan will have a 83.33% LVR. This is calculated as 250000 / 300000 * 100 = 83.33. In this example you may need to pay LMI as your loan is for more than 80% of the property value.

As another example, if you are buying a property off of a family member and the purchase price is $500,000, the value may be slightly different as this is an off the market transaction. If the bank’s valuer worked out the property to be worth $600,000 then the lender will use $500,000 in their LVR calculation as it is the lower of the purchase price and valuation.

If you needed to take a loan of $450,000 on the above example then your mortgage would have a 90% LVR. This is calculated as 450000 / 500000 * 100 = 90.

Please note that some lenders can use the actual valuation rather than the purchase price, however this is rare and you must be in a strong financial position.

You can use this LVR calculator to work out the LVR for your loan.

When does LMI apply?

Lenders Mortgage Insurance will apply if your loan is over 80% of the property value. You can use this mortgage insurance calculator to work out how much your premium would be.

The banks get insurance on your loan if you borrow over 80% LVR because there is a significant chance that they will lose money if you are unable to make the repayments. The LMI premium is charged to you, the borrower. The higher your LVR & loan amount then the higher your LMI premium will be.

Not every lender has the same LMI premiums, they may use different insurers and some have discounts or LMI waivers available for their best customers.

What is the Base LVR & Final LVR?

Some lenders may allow you to add your LMI premium to your home loan. For example if you are borrrowing 95% LVR and your LMI premium was 2% of the loan amount then the lender may actually give you a loan for 97% LVR.

This is known as LMI capitalisation, and is not available from every bank. The base LVR is the LVR of your mortgage before the LMI premium is capitalised, in this case the base LVR is 95%. The final LVR is the LVR after your LMI premium has been capitalised, in this case the final LVR is 97%.

Find out more about LVRs

If you would like to learn more about the LVR of your home loan then refer to this page on LVR by the Home Loan Experts. They are specialist mortgage brokers and they can assist you with any further questions.