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The Dangers Of Cross Collateralisation

The Dangers Of Cross Collateralisation

If/when you get to a point in your life where you own multiple properties, you will no doubt come across the term ‘cross collateralisation’. It’s a very important loan structure issue that you must fully understand if you ever do decide that it’s the best option for you. Many mortgage brokers (my first included) don’t actually understand the full implications themselves and are more than happy to sign you up for it because it’s usually an easier process. Cross collateralisation can very rarely be a good option, the majority of the time it simply increases the investors risk and strengthens the banks position of power.

Cross Collateralisation Explained

Cross collateralisation is when you use house A as security for purchasing house B.

Lets look at how you buy a house in the first place. THE most important thing when buying is….THE DEPOSIT! Banks love that shit. If the deposit is big enough you can pretty much guarantee that the bank will approve your loan.

No Job? No Education? No prospects?

Got a huge deposit, no worries. (I’m talking like >70% here guys)

It’s important to understand what the actual deposit means to the banks. It’s their way of lowering their exposure to risk.

Think about this. If you buy a $400K house with a 20% deposit that means the banks lent you $320K. Worst case scenario for the banks is you default on your loan and they are forced to sell to recoup their investment (the loan). They are not worried in the slightest about making money from this property, they just want their money back asap.

Ever wonder why you always hear of these stories of foreclosure bargains?  It’s because the banks could not give two shits about an extra $10K, $20K or $40K. That’s pocket change to them. They just want to get back what’s theirs.

So now they have this house which the owner paid $400K for. Unless there has been a big downward swing in the market you would surely think that the banks could at the very least sell it for somewhere near the $320K mark. If they do then relatively no harm done, they loaned out $320K and got back their investment. No money made but minimal lost…except if you’re the poor sod that applied for the loan. You’re probably down the shitter now but like the banks care right?

So as you can see, the deposit is king to the banks and without a decent sized one (at least 20%) you are likely to pay exuberant fees to get the loan approved.

So why have I explained the above? Well as I have already mention, deposit is king. But what if I told you there was a way to get a loan approved without having to fork out one dollar? With the flick of a pen you can have access to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Sounds too good to be true.

Enter Cross Collateralisation.

No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

Cross Collateralisation uses equity as the ‘down payment’ instead of cold hard cash. To simplify things, lets assume we have $200K of untapped equity on our family home (House A). We want to buy House B for $400K but don’t have a deposit.

To secure the loan we can use the equity from House A as collateral. This essentially does the same job of lowering the banks risks, just utilizing a different method.

House A Loan:                                $300K
House A Value:                               $500K

House B Loan:                                $420K (loan includes 5% buying costs)
House B Value:                               $400K

Security:                                           $500K + $400K (the value of both properties)

 

LVR :                                                 $300K + $400K = $700K
.                                                         $500K + $400K = $900K  

                                                        = 77% LVR (loan value ratio)

 

There will be a section in the loan contract that details that this loan is secure using another property over which the lender holds it’s mortgage.

‘Wow that’s pretty cool isn’t it? Didn’t even have to save any money to buy another property and the banks made the loan contract a breeze. I’m going to buy all my properties from now on using this method’

stopit

You must consider the ramifications first.

1. Selling Headaches

Every wonder what happens when you want to sell the property that you used to secured the others?

To put it simply…Whatever the bank decides is going to happen.

They have complete control over the proceeds of the sale. I hope you didn’t have anything planned for the money you were going to get when you sell House A. Because the bank has just decided that House B is at a higher risk than when you first bought it and now requires your loan to be at 70% LVR. So that $200K you just received is going straight to the loan on House B…Nothing you can do about it.

And if you think that’s bad. Imagine a situation where you have secured multiple houses with multiple other houses…shit show.

2. Equity Withdrawals

At the moment, if I want to withdraw equity from one of my properties it’s super simple. I apply for the withdrawal and as long as I’m keeping it under 80% LVR there are minimal hoops I have to jump through. I’ve done this three times now (once for each of my IPs) and it’s been very straight forward.

There has been times though where one of my properties have gone up in value and the others have gone down. Because my properties are not cross collateralised I am able to access the equity from the IP that went up because they are seen by the banks as separate .

If you have all your properties cross collateralised however the bank views all of them as the same. You might have had one IP go up by $50K but the others go down by $30K each. This would mean you can’t access the equity on the one that went up which may impact your opportunities moving forward.

3. Want To Swap Lenders?

‘Hey look at that! CBA has been ripping me off with their high interest rate. I’m going to move all my loans to the lower rate at Ubank’

People do this all the time. The problem with Cross Collateralisation is that you can’t just move one or two loans across. You have to either move everything or nothing. Depending on who you’re going to they may not want that level of risk exposure. They might charge extra fees for having to value all the properties to determine the position.

In short it’s a pain in the ass for a process that is so much easier for stand alone loans.

4. Complicates Things

The extra paper work you have to complete only increases the more you cross collateralise.

Want to sell? Complete evaluation of your entire portfolio (assuming you have cross collateralised your entire portfolio).

Want to withdraw equity? Complete review of your financial position on all properties.

Want to move banks?…. You get the picture.

What To Do?

If you discover cross collateralisation exists in your portfolio without you even knowing it (happens all the time) there are a few things to consider.

Cross collateralisation isn’t a problem… until is it.

What I mean by that is that it’s perfectly fine to cross collateralise if nothing goes wrong. But the odds of something undesirable happening increase when you cross collateralise and it usually only benefits the bank.

If you want to uncross your loans go see a mortgage broker who can assist you and work out a plan of attack.

Stand Alone Loans

You really want all your loans stand alone. The only advantage I really see for cross collateralisation is the convenience of setting them up. The banks really like to strengthen their position so they make it super easy to cross collateralise.

The thing is, if you have equity. You can withdraw the equity as cash and use that cash as a down payment for a new loan. I have utilized this method in the past and have had great success with it.

You have to check with your lender on the conditions for equity withdrawal but if you can do it, it’s a much smarter way to buy your next investment as opposed to using cross collateralisation.

Wrapping Up

Cross collateralisation may be convenient and appealing for investors looking to buy a new property without using their own money. However, cross collateralisation rarely is a good thing and the majority of the time it does nothing but cause headaches later down the track. The banks prefer cross collateralisation because it strengthens their position of power and they have all the control.

If you have equity available, look to withdraw this equity as cash to use as the down payment for the new loan. You might have some short term pain with a bit more paperwork and a few more hoops to jump through but your future self will thank you for laying the foundations of a strong portfolio now rather than later.

Fixed or Variable Rate

Fixed or Variable Rate

It’s a decision most homeowners know all too well. Fixed or variable Rate? Do I fix my interest rate? Or do I go variable? Will the rate go up and I’ll feel like a champ if I fixed? Or will it continue to drop and I’ll just not tell anyone how much more I’m paying every month?

To Fix, Or Not To Fix?

Fixed or Variable Rate
There are some pros and cons for both. The main arguments made for fixing often include:
– Stability with repayments
– Laughing at others when rates rise

While the downsides usually are:
– Can’t make extra repayments
– Have to pay fees to set it up
– No offset
– No redraw
– Big, expensive, want to make you burn down the bank break fees if you ever decide you need out
– Crying internally if rates drop

Variable is basically the opposite of above where you have a lot more freedom and flexibility with your loan. You do pay for this extra freedom however by exposing yourself to more risk.

What’s interesting is that at the moment of writing this article you can find plenty of fixed rates that are lower than variable. I had a quick look at some historic fixed or variable rate data and it seems that this is not so uncommon.

Fixed or Variable Rate

Source:RBA

 

I was under the impression that fixing your rate usually meant that you pay a higher rate but upon further research, this wasn’t the case.

So if a fixed rate is lower than your variable AND provides the security of a fixed rate, there’s no reason I shouldn’t fix right?

Yes and no.

Make no mistake about it. The banks are ALWAYS aiming to make the MOST profit at ALL times. If you think you will pay less by fixing your loan for 1, 3 or 5 years after you have factored in all the extra fees and potential rate movements then, by all means, go for it. But just remember that the banks have an army of analysts that are betting against you. Just look at the above graph and try to find a couple of years where fixing your loan will come out ahead.

And remember that you have to factor in the fees associated with setting up the fixed loan and keeping it.

Here are the CBA’s fees for fixed loans. Scroll all the way to the bottom to see the fees. They include:

  • $600 upfront establishment fee
  • $8 monthly loan service fee
  • $750 Rate Lock fee. Applies to each Rate Lock. Only available on 1-5 year periods

That’s $1,446 in fees straight off the bat. How much of an interest rate hike would be needed for you to recover those losses and come out ahead vs variable? It depends on your loan and rate but there needs to be a BIG rate hike. And that’s just for one year. If you decided to fix for 5 years, the fees are spread out that’s true. But again, take a look above and try to pick any date where a 5 year fixed rate would still be lower than variable during its whole lifetime and by how much?

Are you starting to see how hard it is for this to actually pay off? There have been certain periods of time where fixing has been better no doubt about it. But how good and confident are you that you can get the timing right? The banks have an army of people working full time on this stuff and STILL get it wrong.

I truly believe that you’re gambling if you’re trying to fix your rate to save money. And the ones that win 90% of the time are the banks.

If you’re fixing for stability or peace of mind then that’s different. But don’t think for a minute that the odds are in your favor by fixing. If you do actually come out ahead it will almost certainly be because of luck and not your amazing analytic skills that you predicted that the banks didn’t.

 

Split Loans?

Fixed or Variable Rate

I’m not a fan of split loans because it’s sort of like taking the worst bits from each loan type and combining them into a shit sandwich.

Let me explain

Some of the main benefits from variable are:
– Loan flexibility
– Being able to refinance if needed
– Benefit from rate drops
– Offset and redraw
– Can pay off the loan at any rate you want

You get half of the offset, rate drop and redraw (assuming you split 50/50) which is Ok but none of the other benefits.

You still can’t refinance the entire loan, you still can’t pay off the entire loan.

Your flexibility is about as good as a pair of chalk hamstrings

You’re taking on all the risks associated with variable but not benefiting from all the advantages.

The main benefits of a fixed loan are:

–  Stability with loan repayments
– Protection against rate rises

You lose both of those things with a split loan. Yes, you’re only going to have increased repayments from half the loan if rates do rise but then what was the purpose of fixing half the loan if your paying establishment fees for the fixed loan which will probably be more than the interest repayments from the rate rise???

And you’re stability is gone too because you still have the potential to pay more from the other half of the loan if you split.

But you still have to pay the setup fees plus you’re locked into the loan.

You’re getting nowhere near the benefit of either strategy but all the negatives from both. If you want stability and certainty then go with fixed. If you can handle rate rises, go with variable.

 

Wrapping Up

Maybe I’m wrong with my analysis of ‘fixed or variable rate’ and maybe I’m about to be blasted in the comment section about all the people who have ‘beat the banks’ by fixing their loan at a certain time. I’m a variable man, the flexibility, and freedom of a variable based loan is something that appeals to me. I think that fixed loans were invented by the banks to prey on the Ned Flanders of the world (the over cautious) and take more money from them by giving them peace of mind. That being said, if a rate rise means that you’re going to default on your loan, then you should definitely fix because you’re most likely overextending yourself financially. For the rest of us, riding up and down the variable roller coaster is financially better, for the majority of the time

 

 

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