As the property market continues to rise and competition to buy a house grows fierce, Australians want home loans – and they want them now. Recent ABS figures show that the number of home loans being issued has risen by 10.5% since January alone.

There are many different mortgage businesses out there claiming to offer you the best deal on your home loan. A mortgage is one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your life and choosing the right lender can make a huge difference to your financial future and success.

Read more: The 10 Biggest Banks in Australia: A home buyer’s guide

But how is the average borrower supposed to know how the right lender is? It’s not like we can all be experienced industry professionals who know the exact essential qualities of home loan products.

That’s why we enlisted thousands of industry-leading mortgage brokers across a 12-week research process to ascertain what features they thought were most important from a home loan lender, and which lenders best exemplified these features.

Here are the features that mortgage brokers consider most important in a lender:

Fast response times for processing and approval

Our research reveals that the most important consideration when choosing a lender is the speed of their processing and approval processes.  Ninety-one percent of people interviewed rated the processing and approval speed of a home loan application as important or the most important factor when choosing a lender. This makes sense as the current housing market moves quickly, and any delays can lead to borrowers losing the home of their dreams.

Low Interest Rates

The next most important consideration when choosing a mortgage provider, according to our results, is the lender’s interest rates. Eighty-three percent of respondents rated a lender’s interest rate as important or most important. Obviously the lower your interest rate the less you pay across the total course of your loan, saving you thousands of dollars, if not more.

High Quality Customer Service

Procuring a home loan can be a difficult and frustrating process. It’s no wonder that high quality customer service is another important feature to consider in a home loan provider – 70% of respondents said that great customer service was important or most important when choosing a mortgage lender. Being treated as a human being working with other human beings to achieve your goals, rather than a faceless number trapped in a labyrinth-like nightmare of bureaucracy, can make all the difference in your experiences with a home loan provider.

Low Fees

Interest rates might be the most obvious part of a home loan to consider but you shouldn’t overlook the fees and other additional costs that home loan products often entail. Mortgage professionals advise you to always investigate and consider the fees associated with your home loan. In fact, 53% rated fees as an important or most important factor in a lender.

Flexible Online Options

In the changing landscape of COVID-19 technological accessibility is more important than ever for lenders. Being able to monitor and control your household economics via online banking was selected as important or most important by 30% of respondents.

Having thus established our criteria, we ranked a wide range of lenders across these categories using extensive feedback from mortgage professionals and customers.

Read more: Revealed – Australia’s top brokerages of 2021

The following 10 lenders ranked the highest:

1. Heartland Reverse Mortgages

Heartland Reverse Mortgages are Australia’s leading reverse mortgage provider established in 2004.

“At Heartland we believe that what sets you apart from another [lender] is doing the right thing by the customer, which is why we place such emphasis on our duty of care with our reverse mortgage,” says head of operations Sharon Yardley.

2. Homeloans.com.au

Homeloans.com.au is an award-winning provider of flexible and highly competitive home loan deals for owner-occupiers and investors. It is a subsidiary of Resimac Group Ltd, which has been trading since 1985 and recognised as Non-Bank of the Year at the 2020 Australian Mortgage Awards.

“Small yet significant details like the ease of application, approval turnaround times, and the overall customer service experience, not just pre-settlement, but throughout the entire life of the loan,” says chief executive officer Scott McWilliam. “For a complex transaction like a home loan, the ability to keep things as simple and friction-free as possible certainly separates the wheat from the chaff.”

3. La Trobe Financial

La Trobe Financial has been providing funding and investment solutions to a diverse range of customers since 1952. Their residential loan products include flexible features which cater to a range of purchase, refinance and business/investment requirements.

“Non-bank financial institutions such as La Trobe Financial are ideally suited to providing credit to credit-worthy applicants appropriately throughout this period, thanks to the custom nature of our credit assessments and willingness to take the time to fully understand their unique position, and provide an appropriate tailored solution to meet their objectives and requirements,” says La Trobe Financial’s head of origination channels Chris Meaker. 

4. Better Choice

Better Choice is one of Australia’s leading and most innovative mortgage lenders. They work with mortgage brokers to offer individualized and innovative solutions for their customers, from first home buyers, to investors, construction, bridging finance, non-resident, SMSF and more.

Their ability to accept alternative income documentation means Better Choice is also the lender of choice for brokers with customers who are unable to provide the traditional two years of financial statements and tax returns generally required to obtain finance.

5. Macquarie Bank

Originally based in Sydney, Macquarie Bank has been operating in Australia since 1969.  Starting as a three-person office under the name Hill Samuel Australia, it gained an Australian banking license as Macquarie Bank Limited in 1985.

Now the Macquarie Group is a major global financial institution with offices in over 28 countries including the United States, Hong Kong, Great Britain, and Germany.  Macquarie Bank has won numerous awards including Money Magazine’s 2014 Best of the Best award for Cheapest Home Loan Package.

6. Commonwealth Bank

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is one of Australia’s “Big Four” banks. Founded in 1912 as a government bank it has since transitioned to a private multinational business with 1,100 offices globally in Asia, Europe, New Zealand, and North America.

Beyond their standard variable and fixed rate loans, one of CBA's most popular products is the “Extra Home Loan,” which allows borrowers to save at the front end of the mortgage with an introductory rate, or gives a discount for the life of the loan – or  if you are a first time home buyer, both.

7. ING

The world's largest direct savings bank, ING has been providing Australians with access to a selection of flexible, low-rate home loans since 1999. ING is an online-only lender, meaning the savings from not having to maintain branches are passed onto customers by way of discounted rates and fee waivers.

Because ING has no branches for customers to visit directly, they keep their online accessibility and customer service quality at a premium.

8. Firstmac

Starting as a small family business in Brisbane more than 40 years ago, Firstmac has grown to become one of Australia's leading non-bank lenders. They provide straightforward home loans for everyday Australians who are looking for an alternative to the major banks.

Firstmac says “We are dedicated to bringing simple, affordable, competitive financial products to market, underpinned by a lengthy track record of success and a pedigree in prime residential home loans.”

9. Adelaide Bank

Adelaide Bank was established in 1994, originating from the Co-operative Building Society of South Australia, which was at the time the nation’s largest building society.

In 2007, they merged with Bendigo Bank to form Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited, Australia’s fifth largest bank. Adelaide Bank offers a selection of simple yet flexible home loan products, as well as a dedicatedly personalised customer service.

10. NAB

National Australia Bank (NAB) is another one of the “Big Four” banks in Australia and one of the top 50 banks in the world. Established in 1858 as National Bank of Australasia, NAB has been a multinational bank since 1864 when they opened their first international office in London. 

NAB offers borrowers the opportunity to bundle home loans with other products – like credit cards or home and contents insurance – at a reduced interest rate, as well as offering offset accounts and similar benefits on other loans.

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