What is an Assessment Rate? | How to Calculate it

Are you thinking about buying a home in Australia? If so, you need to understand the home loan assessment rate. This is the rate that lenders use to assess your ability to repay a home loan. The higher your assessment rate, the less likely you are to be approved for a loan.

In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about home loan assessment rates in Australia. By the end of this blog post, you will have a clear understanding of home loan assessment rates and how they can affect your ability to buy a home.

What is an Assessment Rate?

An assessment rate typically refers to the minimum interest rate used by lenders when determining a borrower’s eligibility for a home loan. It is a precautionary measure implemented by regulatory authorities to ensure borrowers can afford their mortgage repayments even if interest rates were to increase in the future.

When applying for a home loan, lenders typically assess a borrower’s financial situation to determine their ability to make repayments. This assessment involves considering factors such as income, expenses, existing debts, and credit history. The assessment rate, also known as the floor rate, is the minimum interest rate that the lender applies to the loan when calculating the borrower’s ability to repay.

The assessment rate is usually set above the current market interest rates to account for potential increases in interest rates over the loan term. It acts as a buffer to mitigate the risk of borrowers struggling with repayments if rates rise. By using a higher interest rate for assessment purposes, lenders can ensure that borrowers can afford their mortgage even if interest rates go up in the future.

Specific assessment rates can vary among lenders and may depend on factors such as the borrower’s financial profile, the type of loan, and the lender’s risk appetite.

Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.

Apply online to get a free recommendation with real rates and repayments.

Understanding the Purpose of Assessment Rate

The assessment rate is used by lenders to determine a borrower’s ability to repay a loan, particularly a home loan, by factoring in potential future interest rate increases. Here’s how the assessment rate works:

  • It considers potential future interest rate increases to ensure borrowers can afford repayments.
  • Borrower provides financial information such as income, expenses, debts, and credit history.
  • Lenders apply an assessment rate, which is a higher interest rate than the current market rate.
  • Monthly repayments are calculated using the assessment rate to assess affordability.
  • Loan approval and offered amount may be adjusted based on the borrower’s ability to meet repayments at the assessment rate.

How the Assessment Rate Can Impact Your Home Loan Borrowing Power

When assessing your loan affordability, lenders incorporate a benchmark assessment rate, typically 2-3% higher than the bank’s Standard Variable Rate, as a buffer to ensure repayment feasibility in case of interest rate hikes, acting as a stress test for your financial position.

Here’s how the assessment rate affects your borrowing power:

  • Assessment rates determine loan eligibility by ensuring affordability and accounting for potential interest rate increases, potentially reducing borrowing power.
  • Lenders evaluate income, expenses, and obligations using assessment rates to estimate loan repayments, which can affect borrowing capacity.
  • Assessment rates act as a risk management tool, allowing lenders to mitigate potential impacts of interest rate fluctuations but potentially reducing borrowing power.

Assessment rates can vary among lenders and loan products. Some lenders may have more conservative assessment rates than others, which can affect your borrowing capacity. Additionally, assessment rates may change over time based on economic conditions and lender policies.

Why Banks Don't Advertise Assessment Rates

Banks generally avoid advertising assessment rates due to their individualized nature and complex factors. Instead, they emphasize competitive interest rates and personalized loan options. 

This allows banks to provide tailored solutions based on borrowers’ specific circumstances and comply with advertising regulations. For accurate information on assessment rates, borrowers can directly enquire with the bank or discuss it during the loan application process.

APRA Increases Interest Rate Buffer to 3%: What Does This Mean for Home Buyers?

In October 2021, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has changed the minimum interest rate buffer that lenders must use when assessing the serviceability of home loan applications. The buffer is now 3.0 percentage points above the loan product rate, up from 2.5 percentage points.

The purpose of the change is to help to mitigate the risks associated with high levels of household debt.

The increase in the interest rate buffer will have a number of implications for borrowers. First, it will reduce the maximum borrowing capacity for borrowers. This is because lenders will now need to assess borrowers’ ability to meet their loan repayments at a higher interest rate.

Second, the increase in the interest rate buffer will make it more difficult for borrowers to qualify for a home loan. This is because lenders will now be more risk-averse, and they will be less likely to lend to borrowers who are close to the maximum borrowing limit.

Third, the increase in the interest rate buffer will make it more expensive for borrowers to service their home loans. This is because borrowers will now need to make higher monthly repayments.

Overall, the increase in the interest rate buffer is a significant change that will have a number of implications for borrowers. 

Borrowers should carefully consider the impact of this change before applying for a home loan.

An Example of How a Floor-Rate Mortgage Can Protect You from Interest Rate Drops

Let’s suppose an ‘X’ bank introduced a new mortgage product with a floor-rate feature. The floor-rate sets a minimum interest rate that borrowers will pay, even if market interest rates fall below that level. This case study examines the experience of a borrower, Sarah, who opted for a floor-rate mortgage.

Sarah was looking to buy a home and wanted to get a mortgage that would protect her from interest rate drops. She knew that if interest rates fell, her monthly mortgage payments would go down, but she also wanted to be sure that her payments would not go up unexpectedly.

Benefits and Impact ​

Stability

The floor-rate mortgage provided Sarah with stability and protection against interest rate drops. For example, if she took out a $300,000 mortgage with a 30-year term and a floor-rate of 3.0%, her monthly payment would be $1,340.

Even if market rates dropped below 3.0%, her payment would not decrease. This gave Sarah peace of mind knowing that her monthly payments would be consistent, regardless of what happened to interest rates.

Budgeting and Planning

The fixed-rate feature of the floor-rate mortgage also made it easy for Sarah to budget and plan her finances. She knew exactly how much she would need to pay each month, which allowed her to allocate her income accordingly. This gave her peace of mind and helped her to stay on track with her financial goals.

Potential Trade-Offs

While the floor-rate provided stability, it also meant that Sarah would not benefit from potential interest rate decreases. If market rates fell significantly below the floor-rate, she would not experience a corresponding reduction in her mortgage payments. However, Sarah was willing to make this trade-off in order to get the stability and peace of mind that she wanted.

Conclusion

By selecting a floor-rate mortgage, Sarah prioritized stability and protection against interest rate drops. The floor-rate mortgage allowed her to align her mortgage payments with her long-term financial plans, providing her with a sense of security in an ever-changing market environment.

Discover Your Borrowing Power: Enquire About Assessment Rates Today​

Are you an Australian expat or foreign investor looking to buy a property in Australia? If so, you need to know your borrowing power. Your borrowing power is the amount of money you can borrow to buy a property. It depends on your income, expenses, and assets.

Odin Mortgage can help you discover your borrowing power. We offer a free, no-obligation assessment of your financial situation. We’ll take into account your income, expenses, assets, and credit history to give you an accurate idea of how much you can borrow.

We specialize in serving Australian expats and foreign investors. We understand the unique challenges faced by these borrowers, and we can help you find a mortgage that meets your needs.

To enquire about assessment rates, simply fill out our online form or give us a call. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have and help you get started on your journey to homeownership.

Contact us today!

Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.

Apply online to get a free recommendation with real rates and repayments.

Frequently asked questions

The assessment rate is the interest rate used by lenders to assess borrowers’ ability to repay a loan. It is typically higher than the actual interest rate and serves as a buffer to ensure affordability in case of future rate increases.

The assessment rate directly impacts your borrowing capacity. A higher assessment rate means higher assumed repayments, which can reduce the maximum loan amount you qualify for.

Lenders use assessment rates as a risk management tool to ensure borrowers can afford loan repayments even if interest rates rise. It helps mitigate the impact of potential future rate fluctuations.



Odin Mortgage Logo
Featured In
Geo Expat Logo
Asia xpat Logo
Expat.com Logo
Expat Living Logo
AAHK Logo
Easy Expat Logo
FREE GUIDE

10 Best Tips for Australian Expats to Maximise Borrowing Power & Approval Success