How does a bridging loan work?
A bridging loan does what its name implies. It serves as a bridge between the sale of one property and the purchasing of another. These types of loans are designed to cover the purchase price of a second property and give the borrower the time to sell their existing property.
With a bridging loan, investors can avoid the stress of aligning settlement dates, moving quickly to buy a new home or investment property and get more time to sell the property they own.
However, there are many aspects to this type of loan that need to be looked into before signing on the dotted line, such as interest costs and conditions.
In this article, we answer your most common questions on how this loan works, what costs are associated with this financing option, and how you can use it to your advantage.
What is a bridging loan?
Basically, a bridging loan is a financing option that allows you to buy a new property without having to sell your existing property first. It functions as a financial “bridge” that homeowners use to cross the gap between buying and selling.
Also called bridge financing, these home loans are typically short-term loans that have potentially high-interest rates and are usually secured by some form of collateral, such as real estate.
Borrowers can use the equity in their current property for the down payment on the purchase of a new one. This happens while they wait for their current home to sell.
This gives the borrower some extra time and, therefore, some peace of mind while they wait for the sale to be finalised.
When the existing property is sold, the original mortgage is usually discharged, and the bridging loan is then often converted into the chosen home loan for the new property.
Bridging finance can be offered against almost any property or land and can be used for a number of different reasons. This type of financing is popular with landlords, property developers and people who are moving houses.
With this, it’s important to remember that bridging finance may not be available or suitable for every borrower.
If your current property has an existing mortgage, you will end up having to make two payments: one for the bridge loans and for the original property’s mortgage until the existing home is sold. If your financial situation will not allow you to do this, it’s better to find another alternative.
Lenders often require that you have a certain amount of equity in your existing home so you can provide a substantial deposit on your new home to give you a lower loan-to-value ratio (LVR).
Alternatively, some lenders may require that borrowers without equity in their existing property pay a higher interest rate on their new property’s bridging loan.
How does a bridging loan work?
The process starts with a lender working out the size of the bridging loan by adding the value of the property you plan to purchase to your current mortgage then subtracting the likely sale price of your existing property.
This leaves you with your “ongoing balance” or “end debt”, which is the principal of your bridging loan. Afterwards, the lender will evaluate your ability to make mortgage repayments on this end debt.
Both properties will be used as security or collateral, and you will end up with one loan (peak debt) to cover both the existing debt and the new loan.
Between when your bridging loan is advanced until you sell your existing home or the “bridging period or term”, most lenders capitalise interest-only repayments on the peak debt.
This means that you will only need to make payments on the principal and interest (P&I) on your current mortgage, rather than trying to manage repayments on two home loans.
After the sale of your existing property, you can make normal mortgage repayments, plus the compounded bridge loan interest, on the new loan.
How are bridging loans structured?
The way bridging loans are structured can differ from lender to lender and depending on your financial situation.
Under some lenders, borrowers will only be required to make repayments on the original loan until the settlement of the new property. But during the bridging period, the interest on the bridging loan is rolled over to the ongoing balance of your bridging loan.
When your current property is sold and the original mortgage is discharged, you then start making repayments on the principal of that bridging loan, plus the added interest.
Meanwhile, other loan structures may require you to make payments on both loans from the time you open the new loan.
How much can I borrow?
Most lenders who offer bridging finance will go up to 90 per cent of the property value. However, they’re harder to qualify for, and LMI (Lenders Mortgage Insurance) will be payable.
A bridging loan can also allow you to borrow up to 100 per cent of the purchase price of your new property, plus the associated costs. This is particularly useful if you are purchasing a property that is outside of your current borrowing capacity but will become affordable once you’ve sold your existing property.
What are the types of bridging loans in Australia?
There are two main types of bridging loans offered by lenders in Australia: closed bridging loans and open bridging loans.
Closed bridging loans
This is a loan where you agree on a date that your existing property will be sold, after which you can pay out the remaining principal of the bridging loan.
This is suitable for borrowers who have already exchanged on the sale terms of their existing property and know what date their contract for sale will settle. Because sales rarely fall through after the exchange, lenders tend to see them as less risky.
Open bridging loans
This is a loan that does not have an agreed settlement date but instead a general loan term (typically six or 12 months).
This type of loan is suitable for borrowers who have found their perfect property but have not yet found a buyer for their existing home. Typically, the lender will ask for extra details when taking out this loan, such as proof that the original property is on the market.
Requirements and conditions for a bridging loan
Depending on the lender and specific product you choose some of the criteria and considerations that could apply to bridging loans include:
Maximum loan-to-value ratio (LVR) requirements. You may need a deposit of a certain amount to apply, usually between 20 per cent and 25 per cent. If you are using your existing property as collateral, lenders will also need you to have a minimum level of equity in your current property, such as 20 per cent of the peak debt.
Serviceability requirements. Borrowers need to meet standard serviceability requirements in order to avail of a bridging loan. This includes providing proof of your current income, employment status, expenses and other supporting documents as if you were applying for a standard refinance.
The maximum loan term on the bridging loan. For example, your current home may need to be sold in six to 12 months.
Prohibit the use of redraw facility. Some lenders do not allow borrowers to use a redraw facility on the bridging loan during the bridging term.
Bridging loans may not be available for company purchases or strata title purchases.
How much does a bridging loan cost?
Interest costs: Bridging loans are usually interest-only home loans. This means that you only repay the interest on the loan each month. And you don’t have to pay the amount you borrowed until the end of the loan term.
Property valuations: Make sure to factor in property valuation costs for the existing property and for the new property you’re buying.
LMI Fees: Remember that for bridging loans with a peak debt between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of the property value, LMI fees will apply.
Deposit costs. Bridging finance isn’t covered by Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI), a one-off premium charged when borrowing more than 80 per cent of the value of a property. That means you need around at least 20 per cent of the peak debt as a deposit in order to buy the new property.
Purchasing and selling costs. Borrowers should also take into account the different fees and charges associated with real estate transactions, including stamp duty, origination fees, legal costs, agent’s fees, mortgage application fees, etc.
Pros and cons of bridging loans Like any financial option, it’s important to look at the pros and cons of bridging loans.
Pros of bridging loans
Convenience: With a bridging loan, you buy your new property right away, and you don’t have to wait on your current property to get sold. Additionally, bridging loans tend to be approved more quickly than other forms of borrowing, and some lenders pay out within 48 hours of approving your application.
Repayments: Depending on how your loan is structured, your bridging loan repayments are usually “frozen” during the bridging term until you sell your existing home. This means that during the bridging period, you may only need to make repayments on your existing mortgage.
Unlimited P&I repayments: To reduce interest charges, borrowers have the option to make advance repayments on the bridging loan until the existing property is sold.
Flexibility: Typically, lenders have more flexible lending criteria for bridging loans compared to traditional loans, which could improve your chances of being accepted for one.
Cons of bridging loans
High interest: Bridging loans are designed for short-term borrowing, which means that the interest rates tend to be more expensive. Borrowers should also be mindful that due to the power of compounding interest (which would likely be doubled in some cases due to carrying two loans), the longer it takes to sell the old property, the more interest will accumulate and the more you will have to pay for the loans.
Special conditions. Be aware of special conditions in the bridging loans that allow lenders to charge a higher interest rate if you don’t sell your property within the set time frame. In some cases, and if by bad luck, you don’t sell your property, the lender “may get involved to sell the property” in order to settle the loan.
Additional fees: As mentioned, bridging finance may require two property valuations (your existing property and the new property), which could mean two valuation fees. It would also mean additional fees and charges for the extra loan.
Secured loan: Because bridging loans typically require collateral in the form of real estate, you may lose an asset if you’re not able to repay your bridging loan.
Remember to read the key facts sheet and other loan documentation, as well as the lender’s terms and conditions, before deciding to take out a bridging loan.
Your Choice Mortgage Brokers Pty Ltd ATF Halo Innovation Trust trading as Heart Mortgage Services - Australian Credit Licence 38643.
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