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Shopping for a home loan may not be your biggest priority during the festive season but as soon as Christmas is out of the wayit actually is a great time to look for a home loan!

Shopping for a home loan may not be your biggest priority during the festive season but as soon as Christmas is out of the way it actually is a great time to look for a home loan!

Whether you already have a home loan or you are looking to purchase, there are many benefits to doing a little home loan shopping while you have some time to spare.

Doing your research now will help kickstart the new year on the right foot. Even if you are not planning to look at properties until the new year, you can organise your finances now so that when you are ready to start house hunting, you will already have the paperwork ready. Applying for a pre-approval is something you can do now and it will still be applicable in a couple of months (depending on your lender). State Custodians has a no obligation Instant Pre Approval which will give you an indicative approval in minutes, indicating how much you can borrow and what the rate and repayments will be. By completing an Instant Pre Approval now, you can see what your options are and if you wish to borrow more, you will have time to adjust your finances before applying next year. 

With Christmas being the top priority for most Australians, it means there will be less people trying to contact their lender and take out a home loan. During December and January less mortgages are taken out compared to any other time of the year. As lenders will be less busy, it means that they will have more time to devote to your situation and you will be able to get answers quickly. 

This month, the RBA announced that the cash rate was on hold again at 2.50%. The cash rate has been on hold since August 2013 and experts predict that it will remain stable for at least the next few months. According to finder.com.au, 70% of the expert panel believe rates will change in the second half of 2015 and a minority expect no increase until 2016. 

It is a great time to be looking at home loans while interest rates are at a record low. If you already have a home loan, when was the last time you reviewed your rates and features? Is it still the most competitive option for you? As the year draws to an end and things start to wind down for you, take the time to look over your current home loan and research what other lenders are offering. Do you have the right features that can help you maximise your savings and pay off your home loan sooner? One example is an offset account. An offset account is a transaction account that is linked to your home loan and money that is deposited into it can help reduce the loan principle and the amount of interest you pay. 

Do you have an investment property? Have you thought about how you can improve its value? Renovating an investment property is a great way to spruce up the property and may enable you to charge more for rent. If your tenants are ending their lease in the New Year, you may want to consider taking some time to make improvements on the property. Did you know that you can take out a home loan increase for expenses such as renovations? A home loan increase or ‘top up’ allows you to borrow additional funds against the equity in the property and you can use this to fund your renovations. However, your lender may need to do a similar assessment as if you were applying for a new home loan to ensure you can manage the larger repayments. As mentioned above, your lender may be less busy this time of year, so it’s a great time to speak with them about your options and they can give you an insight into what sort of information you will need to provide in order to apply for a top up. Read more about how a home loan increase works here.

The new year may still be a few weeks away, but in order to hit the ground running and achieve your goals early, whether it be purchasing your new home, refinancing to a better deal, renovating your investment or simply paying off your home loan, you need to start getting organised now.