Westpac relaxes lending restrictions for investors (again)

author-avatar By on November 07, 2019
Westpac relaxes lending restrictions for investors (again)

Photo by Devon Divine on Unsplash

Westpac has launched another bid to kickstart its sluggish mortgage growth, loosening rules around its Household Expenditure Measure (HEM) for investment borrowers.

In a statement sent to its broker network on Wednesday, the big four bank said it was changing the calculation used to determine an investor’s HEM band.

The HEM is what many lenders use to estimate a borrower’s living expenses, which helps to determine how much money someone can afford to borrow for a home loan.

Previously, borrowers who reported lower living and property management costs than those implied in the HEM benchmark were assessed as if their living costs were higher.

“Effective Wednesday 6 November 2019, a customer’s HEM band will be determined by their gross annual income plus their gross annual rental income less any investment property operating costs/expenses or investment loan interest costs,” Westpac said in its statement.

“Prior to this policy change, a customer’s HEM band did not deduct any rental expenses or investment loan interest costs.”

Westpac said as a result of the changes, existing investment borrowers would see immediate benefits.

“This change aligns our practice to how the HEM value is derived for different income bands,” it said.

“As a result of this policy change, your customers may experience an improvement in borrowing capacity.

In particular, Westpac said customers with an investment property or those who are looking to purchase an investment property and are currently reliant on HEM would benefit.

Westpac posted a 16% loss in profits for the 2018 financial year, part of which has been attributed to strict lending criteria and the introduction of a HEM tool that was highly unpopular among brokers.

In the 12 months to September 2019, Westpac’s home loan growth was only around 1.5%.

Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer said 2019 has been a disappointing year for the major bank.

“Financial results are down significantly in a challenging, low-growth, low interest rate environment, he said.

Speaking to media on Monday, Mr Hartzer said internal changes were partly to blame for the poor results.

“Some of it has been self-inflicted through the changes that we put through on the expense categorisation and the tool that we put out there – that we feel we’ve fixed,” Mr Hartzer said.

“We’re seeing the application volumes increase again.

“So, I think there’s no reason why over time we shouldn’t be growing at or above system in our different businesses.”

It’s the second change in lending restrictions for borrowers, with the bank announcing in October that it was halving deposit requirements for interest-only investors.

Effective from 21 October, the maximum loan-to-value ratio for interest-only loans was raised from 90% to 80%.

Looking for a low variable rate home loan? The table below displays some of the lowest interest rates on the market.

Lender
Advertised rate Comparison rate Monthly repayment Rate TypeOffsetRedrawOngoing FeeUpfront FeesLVRLump Sum RepaymentAdditional RepaymentsPre-approval

VariableMore details
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
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Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
VariableMore details
AN EASY ONLINE APPLICATION

Yard Home Loan (Principal and Interest) (Special) (LVR < 70%)

  • Unlimited additional repayments
  • Unlimited free redraws
  • Optional 100% offset can be added for $120 p.a.^
AN EASY ONLINE APPLICATION

Yard Home Loan (Principal and Interest) (Special) (LVR < 70%)

  • Unlimited additional repayments
  • Unlimited free redraws
  • Optional 100% offset can be added for $120 p.a.^
FixedMore details
NO UPFRONT OR ONGOING FEES

Basic Home Loan Fixed (Principal and Interest) (LVR < 70%) 3 Years

NO UPFRONT OR ONGOING FEES

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 made on variables as selected and input by the user. All products will list the LVR with the product and rate which are clearly published on the Product Provider’s web site. 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. Rates correct as of October 26, 2021. View disclaimer.


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 November 2020. They are (in descending order): Great Southern Bank, 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 2020) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.
  • If you click on a product link and you are referred to a Product or Service Provider’s web page, it is highly likely that a commercial relationship exists between that Product or Service Provider and Savings.com.au

Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site.

In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au, Performance Drive 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 is based on a loan of $150,000 over a term of 25 years. Please note the comparison rate only applies to the examples given. Different loan amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees and costs savings, such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan.

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Alex joined Savings.com.au as a finance journalist in 2019. He enjoys covering in-depth economical releases and breaking down how they might affect the everyday punter. He is passionate about providing Australians with the information and tools needed to make them financially stable for their futures.

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