Why bank loyalty can end up costing borrowers

By Gerv Tacadena

Amidst the low interest-rate environment, bank loyalty will take home-loan borrowers nowhere and it could even cost them thousands of potential savings, according to a market watcher.

The expectations of further rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia should encourage borrowers to be on the lookout for more competitive rates in the market, Canstar chief spokesperson Steve Mickenbecker said.

"Nearly 80% of the market banks with one of the big four. If you've had a loan with them for four or five years, you're probably paying about 4.11%," he told 9 News.

He said borrowers could save as much as $361 monthly on a 30-year, $500,000 home loan if they refinance to one of the lowest rates in the market at 2.89%. This is equivalent to a total savings of $123,000.

In the current low interest-rate environment, Australians borrowers are urged to look for home-loan offers with mortgage rates around the lower 3% range.

Some customers, who might not be aware of the recent market developments, might ultimately be paying too much, especially if they become stuck with their old rates, Lendi co-founder David Hyman said.

"When they initially took out the loan, there may be some level of risk when the lender took on the customer. But over four or five years, if they've paid their loan on time, whatever that issue was at the time doesn't matter now, but the lender isn't going to go typically out of their way to move a customer to the new rate that they qualify for," he told News.com.au.

Some market watchers even encourage borrowers to consider the possibilities of future rate cuts before deciding to lock their loans at a fixed rate.

"Don't act in haste, but be diligent. Don't expect the lenders to call you to say the rates are still coming down. The majority of my clients feel as though rates are at an all-time low, and they are, but they feel as though they're not going to get any lower," Mortgage Choice broker Delise Taylor said.

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