Athena is an online non-bank lender that began offering home loans in early 2019 for people seeking to refinance on more affordable terms.
Athena differentiates itself from big banks by cutting down the costs and complications of banking for borrowers. They offer fee-free home loans with zero application, ongoing, or exit fees. This means borrowers can save a lot of money on the total cost of their home loan.
It is owned and funded by AirTree Ventures, Apex Capital, AustralianSuper, Hostplus, Macquarie Bank, RESIMAC Group, Rice Warner, Square Peg and Sunsuper.
Product and service offerings
- Principal & Interest and Interest only variable rate home loans for owner occupiers and investors.
- Loans for buying established properties and for refinancing.
- Loan sizes ranging between $100,000, and $2 million.
What differentiates Athena from other lenders?
- Home loan products with no fees.
- Ability to make unlimited extra repayments with no exit fees for switching banks.
- Free redraw facility (even without an offset account).
- Home loans priced with three tiers going by LVR (lower LVR means paying lower interest rates).
- Automatic rate‑matching for existing customers with rates offered to new customers.
- Loan paydowns will automatically drop you to a lower interest tier, saving you money.
Record on rate cuts
Athena have a track record of passing on RBA rate cuts to their customers. For example, in the period between Jun 2019 and 19 March 2020, Athena dropped rates in full and promptly for their new and existing customers for four of the five Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) rate changes.
Eligibility requirements for a home loan from Athena are as follows.
- Seeking to refinance or buy an established property.
- Borrowing up to 80% of the property value.
- Have a good credit history.
- One applicant at least to be employed with PAYG.
- Not be self-employed unless you have operated for more than two years as a sole trader in legal, finance, technology, or medical sectors.
- Being an Australian and New Zealand citizen or permanent resident living in Australia. Temporary residents should look elsewhere.
- Having your own mobile phone and email address.
There are also criteria for the type of property.
- Located in a capital city or major population centre.
- Apartments with 7 or more floors built in 2013 or later are not eligible.
- Property with minimum 50m² in living area not counting balconies and car space.
- Total land size must be 6 hectares or less.
One of Athena’s defining features is that instead of outright rejecting an ineligible home loan application, they will refer it to their broker service so you still have a chance to get a loan from a different bank and avoid impacting your credit history.
Athena’s broker service works with those who fail to meet Athena's eligibility criteria or need a type of loan they do not offer. Without submitting a new application, borrowers can access home loans from over 35 trusted lenders including fixed rate loans and loans with offset, split lending, and cross collaterisation. You may get higher value loans of over $2M and loans outside your postcode which may have excluded you from eligibility for standard Athena loans.
Pros and cons
Here are the pros and cons of Athena home loans compared in general with other lenders’ offerings.
- 100% online home loan applications and approval process.
- Favours those with good credit history and credit score.
- Flexibility to choose your own loan period from 5 years to 30 years range.
- Offers competitive variable interest rates with automatic reductions as you pay off principal.
- Existing customers benefit from the same rates given to new customers.
- Zero application, ongoing, and exit fees other than for government fees and fees related to third-parties.
- Can make unlimited extra repayments without penalty fees.
- A free redraw facility with no exit fees allows you to offset (although there are no offset accounts).
- Easy to manage your home loan through the 'Athena home hub' app.
- Athena Select brokering service helps applicants find a loan to suit their individual needs, even if ineligible for Athena.
- High deposit requirements, ranging from 20% to 30% of property value.
- Strict lending criteria increases chances of rejection.
- People with a bad credit history are not accepted.
- There's no branch access. Strictly online.
- Limitations on the type of property accepted as security. Unusual properties, those outside capital cities, off-the-plan, or new properties are not considered.
- Do not accept those outside the standard lending criteria.
- Do not accept self-employed borrowers. Exceptions are made for lawyers, doctors, accountants, and IT professionals in self-employed positions.
- At least one of the applicants has to be a salaried employee with PAYG.
- Poor choice for complex loans.
- There are no fixed loans or split loans.
- Application for government grants and benefits like the First Home Owners Grant and the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme are not supported.
- Temporary residents are not considered eligible.