House: Refinance

As June 19th was two years since we settled on this house, that meant our 2-year “interest discount” expired and we were at the mercy of the retail interest rates proper. Since inflation is doing it’s thing, money is no longer as cheap as it once was, which made our current lender (whom I can now disclose was Westpac Banking Corp) rather unattractive.

I’d already spoken to their retention department over a month ago asking if they could do any better on the rates… no can do, apparently they won’t even entertain price matching unless you have basically signed discharge papers to refinance away. At that point, it’s too late… if I’ve bought the ticket, I’m taking the ride! Between this bullshit and their abysmal security (you may have a six character alphanumeric password, no more, no less!) we were out of here once the discount expired.

So a couple months back we contacted Ben, our broker who got us the original loan, and he started looking into it. He found quite a few competitive offers, and the first two were tied in terms of overall yearly benefit, and in both cases we’d be about one mortgage payment per year better off than with Westpac - but one bank reviewed significantly better than the other, and their “refinance cash back” offer was a bit better, so that after fees and shit we’d be a few hundred bucks in front anyway, so we went ahead with them.

The valuation came back, the house has appreciated… not by an obscene amount, but still more than I would like since I have a child who I hope will be in the position to buy a house one day, and enough that between it and the extra payments we’ve been making because we’re very debt-averse meant we won’t owe LMI again.

The new lender turned out to be quite the pain in the arse, several times Ben thought it was done and dusted, just gotta wait for settlement date, and then they would come back asking for something else. But we got there in the end, and settlement was today. Their onboarding was nice, they said all the right things, their internet banking is fast and accepts decently long passwords - except they disable pastes on the login field - and I got the distinct impression we’d be pretty happy with them… until I could not log back in to their online banking.

Rang up to reset the password, and they said that it’s because I was using a password manager. Which they do not allow. Because password managers can get hacked. So use a password you can remember. I work in information security, so once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I realized that I can use a password manager just fine, I simply have to type my entire password. I tested it, and no you cannot just change the last character, it counts how many characters you have typed, and I must manually type my entire 32-character password with symbols every time. Well, I won’t be logging in more than once a month so I suppose I can live with that, but there goes the idea of changing all our online banking over to this bank either.

Update: 2023-07-26: We had what we thought was one final screw-up… we were supposed to originate the loan for an amount that’d keep us just under the LVR where we’d be required to pay LMI again, and the rest of our extra payments would be credited to a separate account. We could then transfer it back to the mortgage if we desired, but this way we could redraw it if we needed to… win-win!

It looked like, however they had not done this, and simply re-originated the loan for the net amount, which meant our advance payments were locked-in and unavailable for redraw. We don’t really have any intention of doing this, but if something big were to happen it’s nice having immediate access to the credit. Oh well. Anyway, this turned out to just be an accounting delay, and today when I looked they had indeed transferred the balance over as requested, so I sent it back, and now it’s there for redraw if we need it.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle



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Horsham, VIC, Australia

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