ANZ said on Thursday it would resume offering customers an interest-only loan period of up to 10 years, where the previous limit was five.

Interest-only customers can also now have a deposit of only 10%, instead of the previously required 20%.

Chief executive Shayne Elliot last month admitted ANZ had been “overly conservative” in its lending practices, and these changes to interest-only loans are a clear attempt at driving growth in the housing market, which has been slowing rapidly in recent months.

This move has been made possible by APRA removing its cap on interest-only mortgages last year.

Previously a maximum of 30% of new home loans could be interest-only, which APRA said was implemented to reign in higher-risk loans.

According to The Australian Financial Review, ANZ told mortgage brokers these policies had been first put in place after APRA’s requirements were made in 2017.

“On recent review, we have made a decision to increase our focus on the investor market,” ANZ said.

“The upcoming changes demonstrate our continued appetite in the investor market, whilst ensuring we remain in line with our APRA requirements.”

These changes mean ANZ now offers a longer interest-only period than any of its big four rivals, although the others already offered loans with a 10% deposit.

Variable interest-only home loans

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Base criteria of: a $400,000 loan amount, variable, fixed, principal and interest (P&I) & interest only (IO) 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.

How do interest-only loans work?

Interest-only loans are loans that allow borrowers to delay repaying the principal (the amount borrowed) for a period of time, which is now up to 10 years with ANZ.

Borrowers only have to make interest repayments during this time, and at the end of this period, the loan reverts back to the standard principal and interest repayments.

The main benefit of an interest-only loan is lower repayments in the short-term, which can help people get their foot in the door for a property they want now.

But when the initial period expires, the final amount paid throughout the home loan will be much greater since none of the initial principal has been paid off.

The table below shows the difference in overall costs between two loans: one interest-only (for five years) and the other principal and interest, for a 30 year, $400,000 loan at an interest rate of 4.0%.

Monthly repayment during IO period Monthly repayment after IO period Total cost (principal & interest) of the loan
 P&I loan $400,000 N/A $1,910 $687,478
IO loan (first five years) $400,000 $1,333 $2,111 $713,404
Total cost difference $25,926  

Essentially interest-only customers sacrifice long-term losses for short-term gains, which has previously made them quite popular with investors.

By selling the property within the interest-only period after making a capital gain, an investor could make a significant profit while minimising their taxable income through negative gearing.

In the next three years, $360 billion worth of interest-only are loans set to transition to requiring principal and interest repayments.

There are concerns in the industry that many holders of these loans will struggle to afford the higher repayments.

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