You can’t interview anyone in personal finance these days without talking about house prices and the mortgage market. Mr Walker shared his insights on these hot topics as the co-founder and CEO of a lender that can approve a mortgage application in as little as 10 minutes.

If you're interested in the text version, topics covered includes:

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Buying a home or looking to refinance? The table below features home loans with some of the lowest interest rates on the market for owner occupiers.

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LenderHome LoanInterest Rate Comparison Rate* Monthly Repayment Repayment type Rate Type Offset Redraw Ongoing Fees Upfront Fees LVR Lump Sum Repayment Additional Repayments Split Loan Option TagsFeaturesLinkCompare
6.04% p.a.
6.06% p.a.
$2,408
Principal & Interest
Variable
$0
$530
90%
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5.99% p.a.
5.90% p.a.
$2,396
Principal & Interest
Variable
$0
$0
80%
Featured Apply In Minutes
  • No application or ongoing fees. Annual rate discount
  • Unlimited redraws & additional repayments. LVR <80%
  • A low-rate variable home loan from a 100% online lender. Backed by the Commonwealth Bank.
6.14% p.a.
6.16% p.a.
$2,434
Principal & Interest
Variable
$0
$250
60%
Featured Unlimited Redraws
  • No annual fees - None!
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  • Unlimited additional repayments free of charge
  • Redraw freely - Access your additional payments when you need them
  • Home loan specialists available today
Important Information and Comparison Rate Warning

Base criteria of: a $400,000 loan amount, variable, fixed, principal and interest (P&I) home loans with an LVR (loan-to-value) ratio of at least 80%. However, the ‘Compare Home Loans’ table allows for calculations to be made on variables as selected and input by the user. Some products will be marked as promoted, featured or sponsored and may appear prominently in the tables regardless of their attributes. All products will list the LVR with the product and rate which are clearly published on the product provider’s website. Monthly repayments, once the base criteria are altered by the user, will be based on the selected products’ advertised rates and determined by the loan amount, repayment type, loan term and LVR as input by the user/you. *The Comparison rate is based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. Warning: this comparison rate is true only for this example and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate. Rates correct as of . View disclaimer.

Q&A - Andrew Walker, CEO Nano Home Loans

Responses and questions may have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Harrison: All the talk recently in the media and even at backyard barbecues has been house prices. Where are they going? Have we reached the peak? We've been in two minds about it at Savings.com.au. But in your opinion, where's that heading?

Andrew: I think the rate of growth will slow is my opinion on housing prices. And we may see a short term correction.

Bearing in mind you've got to look through the short term trends and think about what the long term trends are, and more importantly, what the drivers are of house prices.

If you take those one step at a time, you ask yourself basic economic questions of supply and demand, right?

Then you ask yourself the macro questions about desirability of a country. If you just take those in turn … do we have enough housing supply for the demand that's out there? And the answer is no. We know that we've got a shortage of housing supply. And when you've got a shortage of supply price goes up.

We've had a short term blip in terms of demand, because we've had a whole lot of Australians that hadn't been able to get back into the country. And immigration has slowed in the last two years. But no, that hasn't slowed property prices down. There was at the very start of COVID, yet a whole lot of Australians returning, so a little blip in demand.

Moving forward, as the borders open, you're going to see more and more people wanting to move to Australia; you're going to see a shortage of housing.

And so supply/demand suggests that the past prices will maybe correct a little bit as the market might be a bit overheated, but ultimately, we'll continue on an upward trend.

H: What are some headwinds you see in the market, apart from supply issues? There's been a lot of talk recently about the APRA serviceability buffer bump and the RBA potentially increasing the cash rate before 2024. Do you see these as headwinds in the market?

A: Those are the factors that have the potential to slow the market down, I think. And that's ultimately what the Reserve Bank will be trying to do, right?

The RBA - as much as everyone likes to think that they’re the killers of the party - are not really trying to kill the party. They just want to keep going at a slower rate for longer. [That’s] probably the best way to describe them.

Ultimately, property, like a lot of long term holding assets, appreciates intergenerationally in value, right? So the long run trend runs for generations, not years - it runs for decades and centuries. Every so often it grows a little too quickly, but it will regress to the average mean of the asset appreciation of their class. And that's ultimately what the Reserve Bank will try to do.

H: Moving slightly now to the home loan space. So we'll talk about fixed rates for a second, they've generally been going up in recent months. What has Nano's experience been with that?

A: We don't have a fixed rate product. The fixed rate product is typically reserved for larger players, the banks that have got balance sheets where they can manage and spread risk, and swap contracts.

There has been an enormous swing in this marketplace, which has been predominantly variable into fixed rates over the last two years.

That swing has come in large part because what happened is the main lenders here weaponised the TFF [term funding facility] that the regulators put in place where they gave them a $200 billion free line of credit, ostensibly.

What happened was that the mainstream banks didn't transfer that wealth to the population at large - they kept it for themselves and used it to try to attract new customers. They turned that into a weaponised market share.

A lot of people were attracted by a much lower rate than they'd seen in fixed rates before. And it was actually a super profitable product for the banks that had access to that TFF. Ultimately, it wasn't even like paying a deposit rate and then putting a spread on it and leaving it - the TFF was ostensibly free. It was free money that they could lend out for ultimately an infinite margin.

That swing then to fixed rates is now going to, over the next two or three years, reverse out because the TFF was for a maximum of three years. And so all of those borrowers that are in those facilities will now roll out.

The thing that they need to watch is as they roll out of those fixed rate facilities that they don't get caught in the trap… of rolling out into a variable product. That variable product will be really expensive, will have a whole lot of hidden fees, and underlying charges.

People ultimately forget that happens until it's too late. They realise they are paying over the odds for a period of time. So that's a trap for the viewers to watch.

H: The TFF has been one interest point of mine over the last year or so. We've had a number of non bank lenders' executives say it was not fair - their market share went back to the big four banks in particular. I think CBA drew down $50 billion, or something like that, which is simply massive.

So, how can non bank lenders, smaller lenders, compete when the Reserve Bank was providing cheap funding for these bigger institutions?

A: Well, you can't. From a funding perspective, you can't compete if someone gives you free money, then you can lend that out - it’s an anti competitive move. The answer is you can't compete with that.

Ultimately, all you can do, which is what we did, is you continue to offer great service, you continue to stand for financial fairness, no fees, no hidden charges, you offer a great rate, and a great variable rate.

A lot of people have come to our business because of principles that we've got in the services that we offer. If you're economically rational, or were economically rational, and that's all you cared about, then it was entirely suitable to take advantage of the TFF and the fixed rates the banks put in place.

That's what happens in a pandemic - you get these economic externalities, and people should take advantage of them.

What gets interesting here, moving forward, is when you don't have those abnormal interventions in the marketplace, everything gets down to a normal competitive playing field. What happens is, people will choose the lender that fits with the value set that gives them good value, good service, transparency and fairness. And that's how this will play out.

H: Pivoting away slightly now. We'll talk about home loan approval times. So there's been a few banks recently, I won't name them, that have been raked over the coals in the media about having really slow home loan application times.

What causes this - why are some lenders faster than others? And why are some really slow? And where does Nano fit into this?

A: We've got the world's fastest mortgage product - an unconditionally approved loan in sub 10 minutes. So that's not application, but to approval. We believe [this is] the best customer experience globally right now. And that's something we're quite proud of having built - speed.

Speed is a proxy for unit economics and customer experience. If you can approve a loan in 10 minutes, that's great. You can approve a loan in half an hour or an hour - that's fine, too.

The real battleground here, moving forward, is going to be the people that can't compete with a new service standard or being able to get a loan approved in 24 hours or less - that's really the new battleground.

Certainly over the next 18 months to two years globally, that's where all the competition's going to be. There's no reason, if you have built a process with better technology and thought about it differently, why you can't do that. That's the core of our business.

So, why do some leaders take a lot longer? You have to take a trip down memory lane really to understand this.

The mainstream banks are all sitting on Tandem mainframes that they bought in the 80s; they're sitting on an outdated back end system of record - really unstable, and unscalable. But they haven't updated for 30 to 40 years, the processes are the same, the products are the same.

[Editor's Note: Tandem Computers was a manufacturer of computer systems for ATMs and banks founded in 1974, acquired by Compaq in 1997]

When they onboard a mortgage, they do it all sequentially. As I said, the process hasn’t changed for decades and decades and decades. You end up with this hyper-inefficiency. The only way that you can improve the system, or the time to 'yes', is by either completely upgrading the system or starting from scratch. And that's very, very expensive.

That's a multi billion dollar spin for banks, and banks are profit machines. They need to distribute dividends to the shareholders. They typically don't do that [upgrade the system] - they push the problem forward.

Then your processes - you throw people at it. You try to automate a little bit as you can. And then you throw people at the problem, and you try to take a few days out of the equation. But most of the mainstream lenders actually tell you the industry average is 22 days' time to approval … as opposed to hours, 30 to 60 minutes, or 10 minutes as we've seen.

There's a fundamental difference, right? The difference there is you actually need to start with new technology, a different approach - you need to use digital expertise, you need to be an algorithmic lender. And you need to do that in a hyper-efficient way.

Here's the point: You can't do that incrementally. You can't take what you've got, and make it slightly better. You need to throw that out and start from scratch.

What you'll see both with ourselves and others globally that are in the space, [major banks] trying to catch up to where we are - that's what they're doing.

People are innovating because they're starting from scratch and reimagining what it should look like.

ENDS

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