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Pandemic loan repayment reprieve ending, leaving thousands in the lurch

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

More than 900,000 loans were deferred by Australians since March in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Anthony Barbaro has been pouring coffee for city workers for 16 years.

His family own Avenue on Sussex and six other venues across the Sydney CBD but even after restrictions eased in May, business remains 80 per cent down because so many workers are still doing their jobs from home.

"With barely anyone in the offices, we've got no customers to serve," he told 9News.

Loan deferral

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In the wake of the pandemic, Mr Barbaro had no choice but to contact his bank and defer his business loan and his home loan.

His loans are among the 900,000 loans deferred by Australians since March, with the six-month deadline about to expire.

Banks have said they will give borrowers a further four-month reprieve but it's not automatic.

Mr Barbaro has just extended his loan deferrals for another three months, even though he knows it will cost him more in the long term.

"It's been so hard just to keep our head above water," he said.

"It's going to create more hardship in the future because I've still got the deferral payments, I've still got to pay for each one of my loans."

New figures out today from the Australian Banking Association show 450,000 loan deferral customers are about to be assessed in coming weeks.

These include 105,000 business loan deferrals to small and medium businesses, of which 65,000 will be assessed by the end of September, and 40,000 by the end of October.

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Loan deferral

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Another 260,000 mortgages are also due to be assessed - 80,000 by end of September and 180,000 by end of October.

"The loan deferral measure offered to customers by Australia's banks has led to the largest ever customer contact process in the industry's history, with an additional 5000 new or redeployed staff working to ensure customers understand their options," ABA CEO Anna Bligh said.

"They will be working with every customer to find the right solution to help them get back on their feet."

Of the 900,000 loans that have had payments deferred, 13 per cent had already resumed repayments by the end of July.

Some banks have estimated that an additional 100,000 people began resuming payments in the month of August.

RateCity research for 9News has found the average home loan customer is on a rate of 3.25 per cent despite rates from the big four being as low as 2.69 per cent for variable and 2.19 per cent for fixed.

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If the average mortgage holder with $500,000 owing had their rate cut from 3.25 per cent to 2.69 per cent, they would pay $145 less a month in repayments.

They'd also save $2779 in interest charges in the first year and $13,380 over five years, based on an owner-occupier paying principal and interest with 25 years of the loan remaining.

RateCity advises anyone in hardship to ask for a rate cut. The lower the rate, the less long-term damage will be done.

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Those deferring their loans should also seek independent advice. The National Debt Helpline offers a free service. Contact 1800 007 007 or visit

Source: 9News

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