China to offer home loans to 80-year-olds


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How much can you really save living at home? Banks in China offer home loans to 80-somethings, and wild weather drives a flood of insurance complaints. Here are five things you may have missed this week.

Stay at home, save $137,000

It's a no-brainer that living at home can be cheaper than renting, and some number-crunching by Finder shows just how impressive the savings can be.

mortgages for 80 year olds

According to Finder, the average cost of living out of home amounts to about $480 per week - equivalent to $24,927 a year, plus an additional $950 estimated spend on one-off items such as furniture, appliances and kitchenware.

By choosing to live with parents and putting the same money into a savings account, young adults could save an average of $137,802 over five years.

Finder's Sarah Megginson says, "Staying at home for a few extra years rent-free and taking advantage of compound interest can add tens of thousands of dollars to a person's savings."

The trick is to stay financially disciplined.

"Often, people move home to save but they keep up poor spending habits, so they don't end up ahead financially, " says Megginson.

The perfect gift for granny? A mortgage

Faced with a faltering property market, a number of banks in China are turning their gaze to a relatively untapped class of mortgage customers - the elderly.

The South China Morning Post reports that several banks have raised their mortgage age limit to include octogenarians in the hope of propping up sagging property sales.

It's a high,risk strategy given that life expectancy in China is 74 for men and 80 for women.

Not surprisingly, the banks are managing this risk, with many asking for adult children to co-sign the mortgage with their elderly parents.

Others are offering "relay loans" that automatically pass from older home buyers to their children if the senior is unable to keep up repayments.

Here in Australia, anti-discrimination legislation means lenders can't generally knock back home loan applicants on the basis of age alone.

However, responsible lending obligations mean older borrowers may have to jump through more hoops to secure a loan, often being asked for evidence of an "exit strategy" that provides a way to pay off the loan as the borrower heads into retirement.

AFCA flooded with insurance complaints

The floods that devastated south-east Queensland and New South Wales last year have seen the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) deluged with complaints.

AFCA has received more than 2000 complaints from flood-affected consumers.

Delays in claim handling account for nearly 40% of complaints. Denial of claims because of policy exclusions/conditions make up one in three complaints, and disputes over the claim amount represent one in four complaints.

"We are concerned by the volume of complaints that have been reaching us about delays by insurers," AFCA's Chief Ombudsman and Chief Executive, David Locke, says.

AFCA is urging insurance companies to lift their game.

Locke notes, "We understand that the scale of this event has put pressure on insurers but these sorts of complaints can often be avoided through good, regular communication with customers."

He adds, "We would also prefer to see insurers resolving many more complaints, rather than consumers having to take the extra step of coming to AFCA - prolonging the time they spend in limbo, unable to get on with their lives."

The ombudsman service has experienced a 65% increase in general insurance complaints in the current financial year so far. As at late February, it had registered 17,163 general insurance complaints, compared with 10,417 at the same time last year.

Betashares trims ETF fee

At a time when many costs are rising, Betashares has reduced the management fee on its Australia 200 exchange traded fund (ASX: A200).

The annual fee has been cut from 0.07% p.a. to 0.04% p.a., which works out to $4 for every $10,000 invested.

Betashares claims this makes the Australia 200 the world's lowest-cost Aussies shares ETF.

The Betashares Australia 200 ETF tracks the Solactive Australia 200 Index, which measures the price movements of the 200 largest companies on the ASX. The ETF has dished up a return after-fees of 12.41% over the past year.

Lack of self-belief is limiting Aussie business start-ups

Research from business management platform, MYOB, shows three in four Australians have had at least one great idea for starting a business, but only one in three turn their idea into action.

The survey of 1000 Australians revealed that fear of failure is a key barrier to bringing a business idea to life.

MYOB's Emma Fawcett says self-belief is a vital component to getting a business off the ground.

"It is exhilarating to think of the untapped potential sitting amongst Australians right now," says Fawcett. "We want more of these amazing ideas to move from concept stage to become fully-fledged, successful businesses."

Budding entrepreneurs can take advantage of Self-Employment Assistance offered by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. It includes workshops, courses and personalised business advice and mentoring that can help turn an idea into a viable enterprise.

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A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.