This article was published on 2 April 2005. Some information may be out of date.


  • Different banks’ policies on early repayment of fixed mortgages.
  • The man in last week’s Q&A could stick with properties.

QYou gave some advice in a recent column re fixed rate mortgage penalties.

As far as I know, the standard terms for all the main banks is that you are allowed to repay 5 per cent extra on a fixed rate without penalty, per annum.

If you pay more than the 5 per cent, you are then only penalised if the interest rates go down.

I understand that in the current market of rates going up you wouldn’t be charged the penalty.

ABroadly speaking, you’re right.

I did say, two weeks ago, that lenders are likely to let borrowers off the penalty in these days of rising interest rates — because they can then lend out the money again at a higher rate. But the situation is more formalised than when I last inquired.

To get more detail on this, I surveyed the major banks by email. The following responded: ANZ; ASB and BankDirect (which has the same policies for both banks); BNZ; Kiwibank and National Bank.

All of them except ASB/BankDirect generally allow extra repayments of up to 5 per cent a year without penalty, but there are a few complications.

At ASB/BankDirect, there’s no 5 per cent cut-off. Instead, you can repay up to $500 extra a fortnight or $1,000 extra a month without penalty, provided you stick with that increase for the rest of the fixed rate term.

BNZ allows the 5 per cent repayment without penalty except on its Classic home loans. National allows it, but charges a $100 administration fee. And ANZ allows the repayment but with a maximum of $10,000 a year.

To add to the complexity, BNZ applies the 5 per cent to the original loan amount, ANZ applies it to your balance at the start of the fixed-rate term, National applies it to your current mortgage balance, and Kiwibank applies it to your balance on the most recent anniversary of getting the loan.

What’s more, some banks give you the option of making the extra payment as a lump sum, while others accept it only if spread out over the year.

But that’s not a big deal. If your lender doesn’t accept lump sums, you can always keep the money in term deposits and drip feed it into your mortgage.

What happens if you make extra repayments above the 5 per cent and other thresholds — which might happen if you received a legacy or redundancy payment, or if you sold your property within the fixed-rate period and didn’t transfer the mortgage to a new property?

If interest rates are rising, all the banks will sometimes waive the penalty — which they call anything from a “charge” to “adjustment” to “recovery”.

And, as it happens, from now on they will HAVE to give at least some relief when rates are rising, under provisions of the new Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 that took effect yesterday.

When borrowers repay loans, mortgage lenders and other credit providers “can charge the consumer no more than the unpaid balance on the contract (including interest up to the date of repayment), plus a fee to compensate the credit provider if interest rates have changed,” says a summary of the act prepared by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

The fee “must be a reasonable estimate of the credit provider’s loss.”

And when interest rates are rising, a lender would usually be hard-pressed to claim they were losing from early repayment of a fixed rate mortgage.

It’s a different story, of course, when mortgage rates are falling — and that will happen again, although who knows when?

Early repayment penalties will still have to be reasonable, but if rates have dropped fast the penalty could feel like a kick in the guts.

That’s why many experts recommend taking a combination of fixed and floating rate mortgages. You can then direct extra repayments to the floating portion, generally without any penalty.

QI think that you gave valid advice in your first answer last week. However, I get the feeling the writer would be much better off just sticking with the property portfolio and living from the rental/lease income.

When I do some simple sums on the properties involved, ie $0.5 million coastal property (approximate rent income say $15,000); two city apartments (approximate rent income combined $40,000); selling the one third share in the $1 million coastal property to make the $1 million upmarket investment property mortgage-free (approximate rental income at 8 per cent is $80,000), gives a total rental income of $125,000 (after 7.5 per cent management fees).

Add NZ Super ($13,000) and interest (say 5 per cent) from the $300,000 bank deposit gives an annual income of $152,000 per year continuously, inflation-adjusted.

If the writer wanted to live in a $1 million-plus home, he could easily rent that at an expense of probably $500 a week (Auckland prices), which is still only about $26,000 a year.

However, I would suggest that the person use their income to travel and generally have a good time, possibly sailing around the Mediterranean or some such similar activity.

As you can see, the final figure even after renting a home leaves $126,000 a year, a figure which is a huge $56,000 per annum higher than your first recommendation.

AHang on a minute. You seem to be saying our man will receive $80,000 if he rents out a $1 million property but pay rent of only $26,000 if he is a tenant in a $1 million-plus property! That doesn’t quite add up.

Nevertheless, your basic point is a good one. The man may well be better off keeping his properties.

What I was trying to show, last week, was that even if he made conservative investments, he still has enough income to live very comfortably.

If he prefers to go for something riskier, such as property, he will probably be better off still.

P.S. I’m much too nice to point out that your numbers add up to $153,000 a year, not $152,000!

No paywalls or ads — just generous people like you. All Kiwis deserve accurate, unbiased financial guidance. So let’s keep it free. Can you help? Every bit makes a difference.

Mary Holm is a freelance journalist, a director of Financial Services Complaints Ltd (FSCL), a seminar presenter and a bestselling author on personal finance. From 2011 to 2019 she was a founding director of the Financial Markets Authority. Her opinions are personal, and do not reflect the position of any organisation in which she holds office. Mary’s advice is of a general nature, and she is not responsible for any loss that any reader may suffer from following it. Send questions to [email protected] or click here. Letters should not exceed 200 words. We won’t publish your name. Please provide a (preferably daytime) phone number. Unfortunately, Mary cannot answer all questions, correspond directly with readers, or give financial advice.