East coast flood will attract scammers


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Scammers set to target flood victims, more than one in four properties owned by women, and Boomer loans launch. Here are five things you may have missed this week.

East coast flood will attract scammers, warns Westpac

As millions of residents on the nation's east coast begin the process of mopping up after devastating floods, Westpac is urging Australians to be extra careful amid concerns the disaster in Queensland and New South Wales could lead to a spike in scams.

scammers target lismore flood victims

Westpac's General Manager of Fraud Prevention and Financial Crime, Chris Whittingham, says scammers often exploit disastrous events to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

"Time and time again, following a significant event or natural disaster, we see an increase in people being duped by scams.

"This is a tactic that fraudsters have continued to adopt throughout the pandemic, where scams have almost tripled."

Westpac warns that scammers can try a variety of tactics from setting up fake donation sites to posing as insurers, businesses or government organisations offering help to victims.

"We are urging people to be on high alert to the possibility of scams and closely check that any websites or charitable organisations are legitimate before sending funds or your personal information," adds Whittingham.

Women flex their property market muscle

The 2021 CoreLogic Women and Property report confirms that women are doing it for themselves in the property market, with over one in four (26.6%) homes nationally owned by women, just shy of the 29.9% of properties with male ownership.

Rates of female ownership are highest in Greater Sydney (31.9%), and surprisingly, women are a driving force in some of the city's most expensive neighbourhoods including the eastern suburbs (37.1%), North Sydney and Hornsby (37.0%).

While male/female couples still represent the norm in the housing market (43.5%), the proportion of female buyers is on the rise. CoreLogic says over 28% of property purchases in 2021 were made by women, up from 27.3% in 2019.

For those who can beat the affordability challenge, home ownership is a plus for financial wellbeing especially later in life. A 2019 study by the Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research found poverty rates are 42% among renters aged over-65 in Australia, compared with 6% of outright home owners.

Boomer-only lender launches

Financial help may be at hand for the 4 million-plus Australians aged over 55.

A new Western Australian fintech - the aptly named Boomer Home Loans, will launch in April 2022, with aims to become the nation's first specialist home loan lender for over-55s.

It may be a step in the right direction for baby boomers' financial health. Over two million households led by over-50s currently owe an estimated $600-plus billion on their mortgages, with many paying interest rates topping 4% at a time when other borrowers can land rates below 2%.

Yet over-55s can struggle to secure a home loan or refinance an existing loan with regular lenders unless they have an exit strategy in place. And that usually means planning to sell their home to clear the debt in time for retirement.

Despite being based in Perth, Boomer Home Loans will operate nationally, and is expected to be available through brokers in the second half of 2022.

More than one in five change jobs

Fresh stats from NAB show over one in five Australians changed jobs in the past year, and almost one in four are considering handing in their notice this year.

After decades of low employee turnover, NAB's research found COVID is having a big impact on our views around work. The survey found key reasons workers are contemplating moving on include lack of personal fulfillment, lack of career growth, mental health, and poor pay.

There's certainly no shortage of jobs waiting to be filled. SEEK says job ads were up 35.8% in February 2022 compared to February 2021.

Refinance avalanche in 2021

A record 363,978 home loans nationally were refinanced in 2021, up 28% from 2020, according to PEXA, a digital property settlement platform. Victorian home owners led the charge to switch lenders, with 125,071 refinances last year, up 19% year-on-year.

PEXA Insights' Head of Research, Mike Gill, says, "Record low interest rates, combined with increased speculation of imminent rate rises, has driven property owners to refinance right across the country, particularly in the second half of the year."

Is it too late to score a better deal with a new lender? Maybe not. Reserve Bank data shows variable rates on existing loans average 3.77% at present, while the average for new loans is 3.49%. On a $500,000 mortgage that rate gap could mean a saving of $76 on monthly repayments - and a far juicer saving of $22,700 in interest over the life of a 25-year loan.

According to Mozo, refinancers can still find cashback deals of $3,000 with over 20 different lenders including BOQ, HSBC, ING, ME, St.George, Suncorp, and Virgin Money.

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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.
Mike Richards
March 13, 2022 12.33pm

Boomer-only home loans ? Well, they won't mind paying 17.5% on them then, will they ?

Kelsey M
March 14, 2022 8.07am

They won't mind? They still haven't gotten over it from last time! It's all we hear about.