A swag of changes in 2012 will af­fect first home buy­ers and home own­ers alike, re­ports

Paul Clitheroe.

The Advertiser - Real Estate - - Front Page -

THE new year marks the in­tro­duc­tion of sev­eral im­por­tant ini­tia­tives that home own­ers and first home buy­ers should be aware of. First up is the ar­rival of home-loan fact sheets in­tro­duced as part of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s bank­ing re­form leg­is­la­tion.

Lenders are now re­quired to pro­vide a fact sheet for each mort­gage you may be con­sid­er­ing.

The beauty of this ini­tia­tive is that bor­row­ers can make a side-by-side com­par­i­son of each loan’s head­line in­ter­est rate, and also each loan’s com­par­i­son in­ter­est rate – show­ing many of the fees and charges in­volved as well as the to­tal cost of the mort­gage over the full term.

Fig­ures from fi­nan­cial com­par­i­son web­site Ratecity show that by mov­ing from the av­er­age of the ma­jor bank’s stan­dard vari­able rate of 7.3 per cent to one of the cheap­est com­par­i­son rates avail­able on the mar­ket, at 6.35 per cent, a bor­rower with a $400,000 home loan could po­ten­tially save around $240 in monthly re­pay­ments and more than $72,000 over 25 years.

Be aware, you will have to ask for one of these fact sheets. They may not al­ways be handed out au­to­mat­i­cally but they’re def­i­nitely worth in­quir­ing about. For more on what’s in­volved take a look at www.bank­ingre­forms.gov.au

The com­ing 12 months will also see im­por­tant changes that af­fect first home buy­ers in­clud­ing cut­backs to stamp duty con­ces­sions and other sup­port schemes that will vary be­tween states. In South Australia, the cur­rent $8000 first-home bonus grant will be scaled back to $4000 from July 1, 2012, and scrapped al­to­gether af­ter June 30, 2013.

Any re­duc­tion in con­ces­sions and other fi­nan­cial sup­port is un­likely to be wel­comed by first home buy­ers. How­ever, the rate cuts we saw in late 2011 will pro­vide some re­lief for first home buy­ers as well as ex­ist­ing home own­ers.

If you find your­self strug­gling with your mort­gage in 2012, a new web­site is avail­able that of­fers valu­able in­for­ma­tion.

The Do­ing it Tough site, launched by Australia’s banks, is de­signed to help peo­ple fac­ing a hard time meet­ing re­pay­ments on their mort­gage and other house­hold debt.

The site, at www.doin­git­tough.info, fea­tures links to the hard­ship sec­tion of each bank’s web­site plus de­tails of your rights and pos­si­ble cour­ses of ac­tion if you are un­able to make a loan re­pay­ment.

There’s no magic cure to debt dif­fi­cul­ties but this site will let you know just where you stand.

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