Refinancing a Home Loan as Foreign Buyers Living Overseas

If you’re a foreign buyer who owns a home overseas, you may be wondering if you can refinance your home loan. The answer is yes, but there are a few things you need to know. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of refinancing a home loan as a foreign buyer overseas.

Refinancing a Home Loan: What is it like for Foreign Buyers?

Refinancing your home loan is the process of obtaining a new mortgage to replace an existing one on your property. For foreign buyers living overseas, refinancing in Australia may offer financial opportunities and flexibility. It allows you to reassess your mortgage terms, potentially secure better interest rates, and adapt your loan to align with your current financial situation and goals.

When considering refinancing as a foreign buyer, it’s crucial to understand the requirements and restrictions that lenders may have for non-resident borrowers. Lenders may have specific guidelines and criteria for foreign buyers, including minimum income thresholds, deposit requirements, and additional documentation to verify income and residency.

Working with a mortgage broker or financial advisor experienced in assisting foreign buyers can be invaluable in navigating these requirements.

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Why Consider Refinancing

As a foreign buyer living overseas, there are several reasons why you may consider refinancing your mortgage in Australia:

  • Lower interest rates: Refinancing allows you to take advantage of potentially lower interest rates in the Australian market. By securing a new loan with a lower rate, you can reduce your monthly mortgage payments and save money over time.
  • Improved cash flow: Refinancing can help improve your cash flow by reducing your monthly mortgage payments. This can free up funds for other purposes or investments.
  • Access equity: If the value of your Australian property has increased since you purchased it, refinancing can provide an opportunity to access the equity you’ve built up. You can use this equity for investments or other financial needs.
  • Change loan terms: Refinancing allows you to adjust your loan terms to better suit your financial goals. You can modify the loan duration, switch between fixed and variable rates, or choose different repayment options.
  • Currency considerations: If you earn income in a different currency, refinancing can help you manage currency exchange rate fluctuations. You may choose to convert your mortgage into your home currency or obtain a loan with flexible currency options.
  • Debt consolidation: Refinancing enables you to consolidate any high-interest debts you may have in Australia. By combining multiple debts into your mortgage, you can streamline your repayments and potentially obtain a lower overall interest rate.
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Finding the Right Lender for Foreign Buyers

Finding the right lender for foreign buyers requires some effort and research. Here are some steps to help you in the process:

  • Research and identify lenders: Conduct online research and seek recommendations from real estate agents or expat communities to find lenders willing to work with foreign buyers looking to refinance home loans.
  • Compare rates, terms, and fees: Evaluate the interest rates, loan terms, and repayment options offered by different lenders. Consider any specific requirements or restrictions for foreign buyers. Additionally, compare the associated fees such as application fees, valuation fees, and legal fees to assess the total cost of refinancing.
  • Seek professional guidance: Consider working with a mortgage broker or financial advisor who specialises in assisting foreign buyers. They can provide expert advice, help navigate the process, and negotiate on your behalf with lenders.
  • Check lender reputation and reviews: Research the reputation and customer reviews of potential lenders. Look for feedback from other foreign buyers to gauge their reliability, customer service, and responsiveness.

Qualifying Criteria for a Refinance as a Foreign Buyer

As a foreign buyer seeking to refinance, there are several qualifying criteria you will typically need to meet:

  • Credit score: Lenders typically have a minimum credit score requirement. A good credit score demonstrates your creditworthiness and your ability to manage debt responsibly. An Australian credit report is usually required.
  • Down payment or equity: You may be required to have a certain amount of equity in your property or provide a minimum down payment. The equity in your property is the difference between its current value and the outstanding mortgage balance.
  • Debt-to-income ratio: Lenders assess your debt-to-income ratio, which compares your monthly debt payments to your gross monthly income. This helps them evaluate your ability to manage additional debt and make timely mortgage payments.
  • Residency or visa status: Lenders will typically require proof of your legal residency or visa status in the country where you currently reside.

What Documents are Required?

As a foreign buyer applying for a mortgage refinance in Australia, you will need to provide documentation to prove your identity, income, assets, and eligibility. Common documents include:

Identification Documents

  • Passport: A certified copy of your current passport proving your identity and nationality.
  • Visa: A copy of your valid Australian visa with rights to reside in Australia.
  • Driver’s licence: A certified copy of your overseas driver’s licence.

Proof of Income

  • Employment letter: Written confirmation of your current job, position, income, and length of employment.
  • Pay slips: Copies of recent pay slips showing your regular income.
  • Bank statements: Minimum of 3 months of bank statements in your home country showing salary deposits.
  • Tax Returns: Full tax returns for the last 2 years.

Credit History Documents

  • Australian credit report: A current credit report from an Australian credit bureau.
  • Overseas credit report: If you have limited Australian credit history, provide a credit report from your home country.
  • Credit references: Written references from banks or lenders confirming your credit reputation.

Property and Asset Documents

  • Title deed: A copy of the title deed for the property being refinanced.
  • Mortgage statement: A statement from your current Australian lender showing the loan terms.
  • Valuation report: An independent appraisal indicating the property’s current market value.
  • Asset statements: Documentation such as bank accounts and investment summaries proving other assets you own.

How Does the Refinance Process Work?

The refinance process in Australia for overseas foreign buyers follows a similar pattern to that of local borrowers. Here’s an overview of the steps involved:

  • Research and comparison: Begin by researching lenders who are willing to work with overseas foreign buyers. Compare their refinancing options, including interest rates, loan terms, fees, and features, to find the most suitable choice for your circumstances.
  • Application and documentation: Complete a refinance application with the chosen lender and provide the required documentation. This typically includes proof of income, assets, and debts, as well as identification and property-related documents.
  • Property valuation: The lender will arrange for a property valuation to assess its current market value. This evaluation helps determine the loan-to-value ratio and ensures that the property meets the lender’s criteria.
  • Loan approval and offer: Once your application, documentation, and property valuation are reviewed, the lender will assess your eligibility for refinancing. If approved, they will provide you with a loan offer outlining the terms, interest rate, fees, and any specific conditions you need to meet.
  • Acceptance, settlement, and post-refinance: Review the loan offer, including the terms and conditions, and if satisfied, accept the offer by signing and returning the loan documents. The lender will work with your existing lender to arrange the settlement and discharge of your previous mortgage.
Refinancing a Home Loan as Foreign Buyers Living Overseas

What Happens After Refinancing a Home Loan?

After completing the refinance process, there are a few important steps to take:

  • New monthly payments and budget adjustment: After completing the refinance, you will start making new monthly mortgage payments based on the terms of your new loan. Evaluate the impact of these payments on your budget and make any necessary adjustments to ensure you can comfortably meet the new financial obligations.
  • Update home insurance and property taxes: Contact your insurance provider to update your home insurance policy, reflecting any changes in the value or terms of your property. Additionally, check with the relevant local authorities to adjust your property taxes based on the updated assessed value of your home.
  • Maintain payment discipline: Ensure that you continue making timely monthly mortgage payments as scheduled with your new loan. Set up automatic payments or reminders to stay on top of your obligations and avoid any potential late fees or negative credit reporting.

Considerations for Foreign Buyers

If you are a foreign buyer looking to refinance your home loan, you should carefully consider the following points:

  • Eligibility and documentation: Verify your eligibility as a foreign buyer for refinancing. Ensure that you meet the lender’s requirements, such as income thresholds, credit history, and residency status. Gather the necessary documentation, including proof of residency, income verification, identification, and other supporting documents.
  • Current loan assessment: Evaluate your existing home loan. Review the interest rate, loan term, repayment structure, and any associated fees or penalties. Assess whether the current loan aligns with your financial goals and if refinancing offers potential benefits, such as obtaining a lower interest rate or more favourable loan terms.
  • Financial goals and objectives: Define your financial goals and objectives for refinancing. Determine whether your aim is to reduce monthly payments, shorten the loan term, access equity for other investments or renovations, consolidate debts, or switch from a variable to a fixed interest rate. Align your refinancing goals with your overall financial strategy.
  • Interest rates and loan options: Research current interest rates and loan options from various lenders. Compare different loan products, including fixed-rate and variable-rate mortgages. Analyse the potential impact of different interest rates on your monthly payments and the overall cost of the loan over time. Select the loan option that best suits your financial needs and preferences.
  • Closing costs and fees: Consider the closing costs and fees associated with refinancing. These may include application fees, valuation fees, legal fees, and potential discharge fees from your existing loan. Evaluate whether the potential savings from refinancing outweigh the upfront costs. Factor in the break-even point—the time it takes for the savings to offset the costs—and assess the long-term financial benefits.
Refinancing a Home Loan as Foreign Buyers Living Overseas

Can Non Residents Refinance in Australia?

Yes, non-residents can generally refinance home loans in Australia, but there are some specific requirements and restrictions to be aware of:

  • Non-residents can refinance their existing Australian home loans with most major banks and lenders. However, choices may be more limited compared to residents.
  • You typically need to have had your initial loan for at least 6 months before being eligible to refinance as a non-resident.
  • There are limits placed by lenders on maximum loan amounts for non-residents. This is usually between 50-80% of the property’s value.
  • Interest rates may be higher for non-residents than resident rates. Rates can vary greatly between lenders.
  • Non-residents usually need a larger deposit than residents, often at least 30-40% of the initial deposit.
  • Most lenders will require non-residents to have Australian bank accounts and appoint a local representative to manage the loan.

Although it is possible, tougher eligibility criteria apply. Shop around for options and always clarify the lender’s policy on lending to overseas borrowers. With the right loan and all conditions met, a non-resident can successfully refinance in Australia.

Get in Touch with Our Mortgage Professionals

Refinancing a home loan is an opportunity for foreign buyers to optimise their financial situation and achieve their goals. By carefully evaluating eligibility, current loan terms, financial objectives, interest rates, and associated costs, foreign buyers can make an informed decision about refinancing their home loan.

Take advantage of lower interest rates or adjusting loan terms to significantly save over time. To explore your refinancing options and receive personalised advice, we recommend speaking with our specialist mortgage broker.

Schedule a consultation with one of our mortgage brokers today and take the first step towards improving your home loan.

Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.

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

Frequently asked questions

There are several benefits to refinancing a home loan as a foreign buyer overseas.

First, you may be able to get a lower interest rate, which can save you money on your monthly payments. Second, you may be able to extend the term of your loan, which can give you more time to pay off your debt. Third, you may be able to get a loan with a more favourable repayment schedule, such as a biweekly or accelerated payment plan.

The process of refinancing a home loan as a foreign buyer overseas is similar to the process of getting a new home loan. However, there are a few additional steps that you may need to take, such as providing documentation of your immigration status, foreign income statements, and getting an Australian credit report if you don’t already have one.

The time it takes to refinance a home loan as a foreign buyer overseas will vary from lender to lender. However, it typically takes between 30 and 60 days to complete the process.

Yes, it is generally possible for non-residents to refinance an existing home loan in Australia. However, there are some key eligibility criteria and restrictions that borrowers should be aware of.

Yes. Choices of lenders may be more limited compared to Australian residents. Each lender also has their own specific non-resident lending policy. This should be clarified before pursuing any refinance.

Overall the key message is that while refinancing is possible in Australia as non-resident, more strict eligibility criteria applies in most cases. 

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