Get the low-down on boosting your borrowing power from an ING Home Loan Specialist

If you’ve got a handle on your borrowing power and have taken steps to calculate it, your next step might be thinking about how you can take it further. To help you get your boost on, we’ve had a chat with one of our ING Home Loan Specialists, Belinda Webb, about how lenders calculate your borrowing power and a few things you can do to help it grow. Plus, we’ve made a checklist for you to download to help you try every way to boost.

A bird’s-eye view of borrowing power

Hi, Belinda! First things first. Can you give us a simple definition of ‘borrowing power’?

Hi! So, borrowing power is essentially the amount of money that a person can borrow for their home loan, based on their financial situation.

Why is it important? What does it mean to someone who’s looking for their first home?

Your borrowing power helps determine the maximum amount you can borrow from a bank. Knowing that amount helps you find the maximum amount you can pay for your first home – so, the top of your budget, basically. Once you know your borrowing power, you can start looking around for your first home based on a price range that works within your budget.

What do lenders look at to work out your borrowing power, and what can you do to boost these areas?

Borrowing power is basically a calculation of income versus expenses. There are certain things lenders (like us) take into account: such as income and expenses, as well as savings and debts too.

Your savings history gives us a picture of your financial history and provides an indication of whether you’re able to comfortably take on the regular loan repayments. And debts are two-fold: the balance is a liability, and the ongoing payments are an expense. But there are a bunch of things you can do, across your income, expenses, savings and debts, that could help boost your borrowing power.

Does your credit score play a role?

It might come as a surprise, but your credit score won’t affect your borrowing power, although it will determine whether a lender will lend to you in the first place. That said, tidying up your credit score will help to give yourself the best chance of the bank saying ‘yes’ to your loan application. So you might like to do things like paying your loans on time and cancelling or closing any credit cards you don’t use.

Your income

Why is income important?

Income is really important because it’s one side of the income-versus-expenses coin. When it comes to working out your borrowing power and how much a lender may lend to you, a lender needs to make sure your income is adequate to cover all of your living expenses, including your home loan repayments.

Do different types of income affect borrowing power? We’re thinking about things like bonuses, commissions and even rental income from another property, or other investment income.

Yep. If you have different types of income, they may boost your borrowing power further than a base salary alone. Your lender may only take certain types of income into account if you can show evidence that they are regular and consistent.

What can someone do with their income to improve their borrowing power?

One thing you can might be able to do is salary sacrifice for certain costs. For example, if you work for a company that lets you allocate your pay to costs like car repayments that get deducted before tax, this may be a better outcome than paying for the costs from your income after tax. You may need to speak to your employer or an accountant or financial adviser to see if these kinds of arrangements will work for you. – like car payments, for example. If you work for a company that lets you allocate your pay to costs like that before tax gets deducted, consider taking up the offer. It can boost your borrowing power, as you’ll effectively receive more net income. Of course, these kinds of arrangements need to be assessed for your own situation, so it’s a good idea to seek independent tax or financial advice on this.

Your expenses

So, the other side of the coin. Can someone adjust their expenses to boost their borrowing power? How?

Yes, if you adjust your expenses you could boost your borrowing power. But there is a limit. We will always take a minimum level of expenses to reflect a reasonable amount for your anticipated expenses.

To help adjust your expenses, do a budget tracker! Check what comes in and what goes out. Pop these into categories of essentials (for example, health, food and fuel) and non-essentials (like online shopping, eating out and subscriptions). Once that’s all done, you can review what your essentials are and start looking around for better prices. With non-essentials, decide whether you can eliminate what isn’t useful to you, like subscriptions you don’t need or daily takeaway. These all add up. Ask yourself: Is it important? Do I really need it? Doing this kind of audit can show you how much extra you could be saving.

Are there any kinds of expenses we should look extra hard for?

Look for the expenses that creep up, like buying a coffee every day, and try to reduce them. It might be *only* $5, but in a month that is $150. Small but repetitive purchases like these could have as much of an impact as one significant purchase. So, go ahead and cancel regular payments you’re not using, such as forgotten memberships and subscriptions – or choose one streaming service instead of three. Have coffee at home most days, and treat yourself with a coffee out once a week instead.

Your savings

Do savings affect your borrowing power?

Yes, a demonstrated pattern of savings could help to establish your ability to repay debt.

In addition, the higher your deposit, the less you have to borrow and you may be able to avoid paying expenses like Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI), which will allow you to use your borrowing power more effectively.

Your debt

How does debt influence borrowing power?

Any amount of debt is a liability that lenders may factor in.

But debt is an expense, as well. It affects your borrowing power because you need to allocate some of your income to pay it off – which means you’ll have less available income to repay your new home loan.

Do different types of debts – like credit cards, or personal loans – affect borrowing power differently?

The short answer is yes. The repayment amount is what generally affects your ability to repay the loan. As an example; if you have a $20,000 personal loan with minimum repayments of $1,000 per month versus a credit card with a limit of $20,000 with minimum repayments of $200 per month, the personal loan would probably reduce your borrowing power more. All debt will reduce your borrowing power, but it’s usually the required monthly repayment amount that’s the main contributor.

How could someone go about reducing their debt to boost their borrowing power? What is most important in the eyes of the lender?

Reduce those unnecessary credit limits – lenders may still take into account a credit card limit whether it has been reached or not.

It may be appropriate to consolidate your debts so you have one repayment instead of multiple repayments. This can help you manage your finances a lot easier. And if you don’t use it, cancel it. We want to see that your existing debt plus any additional loan that we give to you will not cause you financial hardship, and that you have the ability to meet your repayments without putting a strain on your budget.

Keeping your eyes on the prize

Finally, we want people to keep doing the things they love while boosting their borrowing power for their first home. Do you have any general advice to help people do this?

It’s all about balance. Enjoy splashing out on your morning coffee, but maybe not every day. Review your budget and track your spending to ensure that you’re conscious of what money is where – and whether spending it is worth it for you. Short-term sacrifices could be well worth it for the long-term gain of buying your first home. This isn’t to say don’t spend a cent, but just allocate a budget to the little things in life so you can enjoy the big milestone of buying your first home sooner rather than later

Belinda’s top tips for boosting your first-home borrowing power
  • Close or reduce any current credit liabilities such as credit cards, personal loans, Afterpay and the like, and overdrafts.
  • Cancel regular payments you’re not using, such as memberships and subscriptions, to reduce monthly expenses.
  • Consider applying for a longer-term loan if you’re able to (this could be a good way to get more borrowing power).
  • Review your living expenses by reviewing your budget. Look at what is essential and what is more of a luxury.
How much can you borrow?

Are you ready to discover your borrowing power? Try our ING borrowing power calculator to find out an estimate of where you stand.

In relation to our credit products, you should consider our Terms and Conditions booklet, Fees and Limits Schedule, Credit Guide and Key Facts Sheet available at when deciding whether to acquire, or to continue to hold, a credit product.

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