What is loan-to-value ratio (LVR) & how does it affect interest rates?

Dominic Beattie By on September 9, 2018
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In the home loan market, a common term you may hear is loan-to-value ratio, or LVR. We explain exactly what it is and how it can affect your home loan interest rate.

What’s in this guide:

What is a loan-to-value ratio?

A loan-to-value ratio (or ‘LVR’ as it is commonly referred to in the industry) is the VALUE of a property in comparison to the amount of money being borrowed (through a home loan) – calculated as a percentage. It is used by lenders to assess the risk factor of a loan.  The lower your LVR percentage, the less of a risk that particular loan is to a potential lender.

Keeping track of your LVR when house hunting is important as it gives you a good indication of the buying power of the deposit that you’ve managed to save. A good LVR can also help you avoid certain fees that sometimes get applied to home loans (eg. Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI)).

What is a good loan-to-value ratio?

For many lenders, 80% or lower (20% deposit or more) is generally considered to be a good loan-to-value ratio (LVR). Most lenders will not charge lenders mortgage insurance on loans with an LVR of 80% or less.  

However, some lenders may require an LVR as low as 60% for properties they consider to represent a higher risk (i.e. at risk of significant falls in value), or for borrowers who want to qualify for especially low-rate home loans.  

Variable home loans

Provider Ad rate
p.a.
Comp rate*
p.a.
Monthly
repayments
 
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% 3.20% $1,730 More details
Ad rate
p.a.
Comp rate*
p.a.
Monthly
repayments
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% 3.20% $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 1 November 2019. View disclaimer.

How to calculate your LVR

Lenders typically calculate your LVR by dividing the loan amount by the property’s value and multiplying it by 100.

For example, if John was looking at a property which had a valuation of $450,000 (not its price, its value) and he had a $90,000 deposit, he would need to borrow $360,000.

By dividing $360,000 (the loan amount) by $450,000 (the valuation of the property), we get 0.8 which, multiplied by 100, means that John’s loan-to-value ratio is 80%.

Property value

(not price)

Deposit Loan amount LVR

(Loan-to-value ratio)

$450,000 $45,000 $405,000 90%
$450,000 $67,500 $382,500 85%
$450,000 $90,000 $360,000 80%
$450,000 $112,500 $337,500 75%
$450,000 $135,000 $315,000 70%
$450,000 $175,000 $275,000 60%

How can LVR affect your interest rate?

LVR can affect your interest rate because many lenders actually apply a lower interest rate to borrowers with lower LVRs. Why? Because these borrowers represent less risk to lenders. A low LVR means the property should be worth considerably more than the debt that’s owed, so if the borrower were to default on the loan, the lender will have a good chance of recovering their debt by repossessing the borrower’s property and selling it.

Along with potentially having a higher interest rate, borrowers with a higher LVR can also be hit with Lender’s Mortgage Insurance, or LMI, which acts as something of a safety net to the lender should you be unable to make your monthly loan payments. It can vary in price depending on the lender and what LVR percentage you have, but can leave you out of pocket if you aren’t careful. The lending industry average LVR where LMI is applied is from approximately 80% and higher.

According to the Genworth LMI estimator, if you have an LVR of 90% on a $450,000 loan for up to 30 years, you could be hit with an LMI premium of $7,776.

Here’s a quick look at what you might expect to pay for LMI based on varying house prices and LVRs:

Estimated Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) Premiums for First Home Buyers

Estimated property value95% LVR90% LVR85% LVR
$200,000$5,073$2,718$1,479
$400,000$12,768$6,912$3,842
$600,000$25,707$13,176$6,630
$800,000$34,276$17,568$8,840
$1,000,000$42,845$22,050$11,135

 Source: Genworth LMI premium estimator. Prices including GST but excluding stamp duty. Based on a loan term up to 30 years.

So if you want to avoid LMI and put yourself in a good position to qualify for lower interest rates, you could aim to have a lower LVR by buying a property in a lower price bracket or waiting longer to save up a bigger deposit. But this isn’t practical for everyone.

Case study

Tim was looking at houses for $450,000 and had $22,500 in his savings. If he had calculated his loan-to-value ratio before applying for a loan, he would have discovered that he had an LVR of 95%. Because of this high ratio, the lender thought he was too high of a risk and rejected his application.

Tim decided against buying the house and saved up until he had $90,000 in his savings – which achieved an LVR of 80%. When he reapplied for the loan, it was approved by the lender and he didn’t have to pay any LMI.

Do you always need a lower LVR?

There are good reasons why you’d want an LVR of at least 80%. As discussed above, a 20% deposit or greater can help you secure a lower interest rate and more favourable lending conditions, which in turn can seriously reduce your monthly interest repayments. Plus, you can potentially save yourself thousands in LMI premiums.

But sometimes an 80% LVR might not be practical. Saving for a house deposit can take a long time – up to 8 years in Sydney – and over this time the value of the house you’ve got your eye on can increase significantly. A $25,000 LMI premium could look like pocket change compared to a $100,000+ increase in the capital value of the house, and you’d be kicking yourself if you missed out on this opportunity because you wanted to wait for a higher deposit. So sometimes it’s worth just jumping in with a 5-15% deposit since you can potentially gain far more from selling a house than you’d have to pay an LMI premium plus a slightly higher interest rate.

Just make sure your interest rate isn’t too much higher – an interest rate that’s 100 basis points higher can result in tens (if not hundreds) of thousands more being paid in interest over the life of the loan.

100% LVR or higher: the maximum loan-to-value ratio

It’s possible to get a loan without paying a deposit on your home – that’s an LVR of 100% or more – but not by yourself. You can be approved for a home loan with an LVR of 100% or even as high as 110% (e.g. if you’re consolidating other debts into the home loan) through the use of a guarantor, which is someone (usually a parent) who agrees to take responsibility for repaying the home loan in the event you fail to make the repayments.

This is quite risky on behalf of the guarantor, so it’s not a decision that can be made lightly. But by making extra repayments on your mortgage or having the value of your property increase, the guarantor may become unnecessary.

Guarantor home loans are popular among first home buyers or people with lower incomes who struggle to afford a housing deposit.

Variable home loans with 95% LVR

Provider Ad rate
p.a.
Comp rate*
p.a.
Monthly
repayments
 
Discount Variable 150k+ 95% 3.42% 3.44% $1,778 More details
Flexi First Option P&I 95% 3.43% 3.44% $1,780 More details
Accelerate Variable OO P&I 3.52% 3.57% $1,800 More details
Base Variable Rate P&I Special 3.55% 3.59% $1,807 More details
Real Deal P&I Special 95% 3.59% 3.63% $1,816 More details
Ad rate
p.a.
Comp rate*
p.a.
Monthly
repayments
Discount Variable 150k+ 95%
3.42% 3.44% $1,778
More details
Flexi First Option P&I 95%
3.43% 3.44% $1,780
More details
Accelerate Variable OO P&I
3.52% 3.57% $1,800
More details
Base Variable Rate P&I Special
3.55% 3.59% $1,807
More details
Real Deal P&I Special 95%
3.59% 3.63% $1,816
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 95% or over. 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 3 October 2019. View disclaimer.

LVR FAQs

What’s the LVR formula?

The LVR (loan-to-value ratio) formula is fairly straightforward. As it’s name suggests, it is essentially the size of your loan divided by the value of property, expressed as a percentage:

LVR = Loan amount / property value

For example, here’s how you’d calculate the LVR on a $400,000 loan for a $500,000 property:

= 400,000 / 500,000
= 0.8
LVR = 80%

So in that example, the 80% represents the portion of the property still to be repaid, while the remaining 20% represents the borrower’s equity in the property.

What is a good loan-to-value ratio for refinancing?

When refinancing your home loan, you should generally aim to have a loan-to-value ratio of 80% or less. Otherwise, you may have to pay for lenders mortgage insurance again. 

Savings.com.au’s two cents

The LVR, or loan-to-value ratio, is indicative of how much of the property’s value you have to repay to the lender. A higher LVR can cost you more over the life of the loan because:

  • You may have a higher interest rate
  • You may have to pay LMI
  • You’re borrowing more for the property

But as discussed, it’s not always practical or economical for someone to hold off buying property until they have an LVR of at least 80%, because property prices may rise significantly over the time it takes to save up a 20% deposit.

So in general, aim to have an LVR of at least 80%, but consider whether you can afford to wait.


Disclaimers

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.

Dominic Beattie
Dominic Beattie is Savings.com.au’s Content Manager. He has been writing and editing articles on finance, business and economics since 2015, having previously worked as a Senior Journalist at financial research firm Canstar before helping to relaunch Savings.com.au in November 2018. Dominic aspires to help everyday Australians discover simple and effective ways to comfortably manage their finances and save money, without sacrificing their joie de vivre.
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