Why you need ‘genuine savings’ when applying for a home loan

William Jolly By on May 15, 2019
Why you need genuine savings

Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash

When applying for a home loan, having a deposit of cash isn’t always enough. Often, you’ll need something called ‘genuine savings’ to show the lender. 

Just having money in a savings account isn’t always enough when it comes to getting a home loan, because they might not be considered genuine. 

What are genuine savings? 

“Genuine savings” is a phrase used by lenders to describe savings that you yourself have saved over a period of time – usually between three to six months. It’s different to regular savings sitting in your bank account, which you may have earned by receiving a one-off bonus at work, selling a car, or being directly gifted some money from someone else.

There’s nothing wrong with having this money – the more you have of it the merrier – but these funds aren’t considered to be genuine savings, i.e. you didn’t save them yourself over time. 

What is and isn’t considered genuine savings can be a bit tricky sometimes and will ultimately depend on the lender’s criteria, but genuine savings usually consist of any of the following: 

Genuine savings vs regular savings

So the difference between genuine savings and regular savings is that genuine savings don’t have to be savings in the traditional sense. It can be your money that you’ve stored elsewhere or use to invest with. And for these funds to count as ‘genuine savings’ they need to be maintained, so withdrawing a bulk sum from your savings account or closing your term deposit early might mean the lender won’t consider them as true genuine savings. 

What aren’t genuine savings? 

As we said before, just having some money in your account isn’t enough. That’s why the following things generally don’t count as genuine savings:

There are obviously exceptions to these rules depending on who you’re borrowing from. For example, you can have gifts or inheritances approved as genuine savings if you have a letter from the gift giver/executor in some situations. 

Rent can also be used as genuine savings if you pay it on time every time for at least three-twelve months, as long as your name is both on the lease and on the home loan application. 

Variable rate home loans

Provider Ad rate
Comp rate*
Purchase or Refi, P&I 80% Smart Home Loan 2.88% 2.90% $1,660 More details
Discount Variable 80% 3.07% 3.09% $1,702 More details
Base Variable Rate Special P&I 3.20% 3.24% $1,730 More details
Ad rate
Comp rate*
Purchase or Refi, P&I 80% Smart Home Loan
2.88% 2.90% $1,660
More details
Discount Variable 80%
3.07% 3.09% $1,702
More details
Base Variable Rate Special P&I
3.20% 3.24% $1,730
More details

Base criteria of: a $400,000 loan amount, variable, principal and interest (P&I) home loans with an LVR (loan-to-value) ratio of at least 80%. Introductory rate products were not considered for selection. Monthly repayments were calculated based on the selected products’ advertised rates, applied to a $400,000 loan with a 30-year loan term. Rates correct as at 17 October 2019. View disclaimer.

How much saving is enough for a home loan?

How much genuine savings are required is often dependent on the deposit. The bigger the deposit the less genuine savings you need, if any at all:

  • 80% LVR (20% deposit): genuine savings are not required
  • 85-90% LVR (15-10% deposit): genuine savings may be required
  • More than 90% LVR (Less than 10% deposit): you will likely require genuine savings
  • 95% LVR (5% deposit): you’ll need to show genuine savings 
  • 100% LVR (No deposit): genuine savings aren’t required if you use a guarantor on your home loan

You’ll need to have saved at least 5% of the property’s purchase price as genuine savings when it’s required. For example, 5% genuine savings on a $500,000 property is $25,000. So in addition to the house deposit, which could be as much as $50,000, you’ll need to have held at least $25,000 worth of genuine savings and not have withdrawn from it to the point where it drops below this amount. 

Example of what’s not genuine savings:

Say you want to purchase that same property worth $500,000, and the lender requires genuine savings of $25,000. Over six months you build your savings account from $15,000 to $30,000, but right before you apply for the loan you take $10,000 out to help finance a new car. That would leave your genuine savings at $20,000, which wouldn’t be enough to secure a loan. 

An alternative would be to seek a higher deposit so genuine savings aren’t required, but this isn’t always possible. 

Why do lenders look for genuine savings? 

Serviceability is an important part of the lending process. Responsible lending practices mean lenders need to do their due diligence and make sure a person they’re giving a loan to has the capacity to repay it, whether those repayments are weekly, fortnightly or monthly. People who are borrowing more of the property’s value are generally deemed by the lender to be a higher-risk borrower – and why wouldn’t they? Someone who has saved up for a higher deposit has already proven themselves to be trustworthy. 

So lenders will look to your bank accounts and scrutinise your spending, looking into:

  • How much money you spend in any given week/month
  • How this spend compares to your money in (income) 
  • How much debt you have 
  • The type of things you spend money on (heavy gambling and Afterpay use are often frowned upon by most lenders).

Having a savings buffer before taking out a loan will prove to them that you can be trusted with money, and therefore will boost your chances of approval

How to build your genuine savings 

Build your genuine savings fund the same way you would with regular savings: 

To make sure you don’t spend any of it and miss out on the genuine threshold, keep it in a separate, no-fee savings account that makes it hard to withdraw. 

Other costs of getting a home loan

The way home loans are talked about online or in the news, you’d think the deposit was the only thing needed to get one. A 20% deposit on a median-priced house is already quite high at around $100,000 – but the reality is the deposit is just one component of a home loan’s upfront costs.

There are other fees like stamp duty, Lenders Mortgage Insurance, home loan application fees, transfer and registration fees, valuation fees, conveyancing fees and more. At least genuine savings don’t get taken away by the bank so you can use them after you’ve secured approval, but all these other fees and costs can add extra tens of thousands of dollars to a home loan. 

Savings.com.au’s two cents 

If you’re applying for a home loan with a lower deposit, there’s a good chance you’ll need to show a short history of stringent savings habits worth up to 5% of the home’s value, although there are certain lenders out there who won’t need it. 

But whether you need to show genuine savings or not is irrelevant, in our opinion. What reason do you have to not save? The more money you have stored away alongside your house deposit the better; you never know what might happen, and if you can’t afford to meet your repayments you’ll be in trouble. So build some ‘genuine’ savings regardless of whether you need it or not.


The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:

  • The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
  • The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in 2018. They are (in descending order): Credit Union Australia, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
  • The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2019) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.

In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au and loans.com.au are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings.com.au manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.

*Comparison rate includes both the interest rate and the fees and charges relating to a loan, combined into a single percentage figure. The interest rate per annum is based on a loan credit of $150,000 and a loan term of 25 years.

William Jolly
William Jolly joined Savings.com.au as a Financial Journalist in 2018, after spending two years at financial research firm Canstar. In William's articles, you're likely to find complex financial topics and products broken down into everyday language. He is deeply passionate about improving the financial literacy of Australians and providing them with resources on how to save money in their everyday lives.
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