There is a lot of terminology used to describe home loans. If you’re new to the property game, here are some definitions to get you off to a flying start:

Bridging Finance

A bridging loan provides funds to buy your next home before you’ve sold your current one. It covers the deposit and other buying costs, such as Stamp Duty. Once you settle on your old home, the proceeds of sale are paid as a lump sum to reduce your interest repayments on the bridging loan.

Capital Gains Tax

Capital gain on an asset is the difference between what it cost you and what you sell it for. Tax is payable on capital gains. Personal assets, such as your home, car and furnishings are exempt from capital gains tax. Depreciating assets – such as business equipment or fittings in a rental property – are also exempt from capital gains tax. Capital loss on a taxable asset can be used to reduce any capital gain in the following year.

Equity

Equity is the difference between the value of your home and the amount you owe on it. For example, if your home is worth $900,000 and you owe $500,000, your equity is $400,000. As you pay off your home loan, your equity increases. You can borrow against the equity in your home to buy an investment property.

First Home Owners Grant (FHOG)

The NSW Government provides the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) as financial assistance for first home buyers in NSW. The First Home Owner Grant currently gives first home buyer a lump sum benefit of $10,000 to be used towards your deposit of your home loan or paying relevant expenses such as pest and building reports. The $10,000 grant is payable to all first home buyers where the home being purchased or built and has a total value less than $650,000.

First Home Plus Scheme (FHPS)

The NSW First Home Plus Scheme (FHPS) provides exemptions or concessions on Stamp Duty up to $17,900 for eligible first home buyers, including vacant land on which you intend to build your first home:

  • Stamp Duty exemptions for homes valued up to $500,000
  • Stamp Duty concessions for homes valued between $500,000 and $600,000
  • Stamp Duty exemptions for a vacant block of residential land to build your home
  • Stamp Duty concessions for vacant land valued between $300,000 and $450,000
Fixed Rate

The interest rate of a fixed rate home loan is locked in for a specified period, often a number of years, regardless of changes to interest rates.

Interest Only

An ‘interest-only’ home loan requires a borrower to pay only the interest component of the loan. This structure requires the repayment of the original borrowed amount in a lump sum when the home loan period is complete or the property is sold. Most interest-only home loans revert to a principal and interest loan after a set initial period.

Interest-only home loans are more widely used by investors, who are attracted by the tax saving aspects and are usually not likely to hold the property for the term of the home loan. They are not ideal for owner occupiers who are more focused on building equity in their property, as the underlying home loan debt is not reduced with interest-only.

Be aware though that with an interest-only home loan, there is still the potential for the property to increase in capital value as real estate prices rise, which will have a positive impact on the borrower’s equity. An interest-only home loan works well for investors who want to use the property to generate rental income and capital gains.

Loan Portability

Loan portability means transferring the loan on your current home across to purchase a new property. Some home loans offer this as a feature, so you don’t need to refinance when you upgrade to your next home. Bringing your old home loan with you works if you’re selling and buying at the same time. While you have the convenience of staying with your current home loan, and you don’t need to pay for bridging or refinancing, there are normally fees attached to using this feature. If you’re sure the home loan you already have is the best deal for you, then loan portability may be worth exploring.

Principal and Interest

‘Principal and interest’ and ‘interest-only’ home loans are designed to give borrowers a choice in the way they make their repayments, and how much and when they repay. Both will suit different borrowers’ needs and circumstances.

A principal and interest home loan requires borrowers to make payments on the interest accrued on the mortgage, as well as repay a part of the principal. In this way, repayments on principal and interest home loans actually reduce your debt. Repayments are calculated and spread out so that the last scheduled payment fully pays out the home loan.

These repayments will be higher than for an interest-only home loan, but they will help borrowers pay off their home loan. If you are planning to buy a property to live in long term, then it is likely a principal and interest loan will better suit your needs.

Repaying both interest and the principal will allow you to gradually increase your equity in the property by reducing the size of your mortgage, and at the end of the loan term you will be the sole owner of your home.

Refinancing

Refinancing means breaking your current home loan contract to take on a new loan with improved rates and features. It’s important to understand what’s involved, because the costs of switching home loans can sometimes outweigh the benefits.

Settlement

Settlement is the official exchange of contracts for the sale of a house, conducted between legal and/or financial representatives of both the buyer and the vendor. Settlement takes place on a day and time agreed by both parties. The average settlement is 4-6 weeks, however both parties can negotiate a shorter or longer settlement period, depending on their needs.

SMSF

A SMSF (Self Managed Superannuation Fund) allows you to take complete control of building your retirement wealth. The key difference between a SMSF and a standard superannuation funds is that SMSF members are also the SMSF trustees. As SMSF member/trustee you manage the fund for your own retirement benefit, and you are fully responsible for complying with superannuation and tax laws.

Although the rules and regulations for SMSFs make them complex to set up, the control and flexibility of investment make them very attractive to many people. It’s a major financial decision and you need the time and skills to manage your own super fund effectively.

Stamp Duty

Stamp duty is a State Government charge that relates to the transfer of property. The amount varies between the states. Use our handy Stamp Duty Calculator to estimate your stamp duty.

Variable Rate

The interest rate on a variable rate home loan can change at any time, either up or down, in line with official interest rates set by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Market circumstances and competition between lenders can also lead to interest rate changes, which can affect the interest rate of your loan.