Understanding lender’s mortgage insurance

Find out what lender's mortgage insurance is and how it may affect your home loan.

You’re looking for the house of your dreams or maybe you’ve already found it. It’s an exciting time but it can be daunting when it comes to arranging finance and meeting all the upfront and ongoing costs, such as lender’s mortgage insurance.

How lender’s mortgage insurance works

When it comes to arranging a home loan, if you have a deposit equal to 20% of a property’s value, you will generally not be asked to pay the costs of lender’s mortgage insurance.

But if a lender agrees to lend more than 80% of a property’s value there is the risk that—if the loan isn’t repaid as agreed—the lender will lose money.

That’s where the lender can benefit from lender’s mortgage insurance.

Lenders arrange the insurance to provide another way of retrieving the money if the need arises—that is, the insurance company can reimburse the lender.

The costs

In a nutshell, lender’s mortgage insurance is a one-off cost. The lender will generally buy the insurance and then pass the costs on to the borrower—these are usually added to your home loan which means you’ll end up paying the costs as well as interest on top.

The pros and cons

On the positive side, lender’s mortgage insurance may mean you are able to buy your home sooner if you have less than 20% deposit.

But that means you’d be borrowing more, so you'll be paying more in interest over the life of your home loan and the lender’s mortgage insurance costs.

It’s important to be aware that lender’s mortgage insurance does not protect borrowers in the event of loan default. If a lender is forced to sell the home due to loan default, and a shortfall results which is covered by the lender’s mortgage insurance, then the mortgage insurer generally has rights to pursue the borrowers for the shortfall paid.

An alternative

Another way you could avoid the costs of lender’s mortgage insurance is if someone acts as a guarantor for your home loan.

Guarantors generally need to be immediate family members. The property to be purchased acts as partial security for the lender and the equity in a guarantor’s property provides additional security.

Obviously, there are risks in having someone act as a guarantor on your home loan, especially for the guarantor.

The guarantor needs to make sure the property being purchased is a valid investment because they may have to repay the loan if you don’t—as a result, their own property and credit rating could be put at risk. Find out more at the MoneySmart website.

And by tying up the equity in their own home, the guarantor may not be able to use it if they need to.

It’s important that a family member knows all that’s involved in being guarantor and seeks legal and financial advice before acting as a third party on your loan. And you’d need to consider how your relationship could be affected if things don’t go to plan.

The right home loan

Finding the right home loan can be as important as finding the right home. When looking around, consider the different types of loans available and find a lender who’s interested in helping you repay your loan sooner so you’ll pay less interest.

Need some advice?

Buying a home can be exciting but taking on a loan is a big financial commitment. There’s a lot of information online—the Q&AMP website provides answers to a lot of the property questions you may have. But be sure to speak with a financial adviser too. That way you can work out how and when buying a home fits in with your plans. If you don’t have one, contact us on 131 267 or use our find an adviser tool.

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.