May 31, 2017
The prospect of rising interest rates has more borrowers wanting to lock into fixed-rate loans, says a new study.
More than a third of Aussies (35.5 per cent) looking to take out a home loan would go for a fixed-rate loan, according to Gateway Credit Union. The split rate option was favoured by 34 per cent and the variable rate by 30.7 per cent.
And over half of those surveyed said they would be in it for the long haul — choosing to fix their home loan rate for five years.
The sentiment for fixed loans is high in spite of the Reserve Bank of Australia keeping interest rates on hold and at a record low for the past several months. Banks, however, have been making out-of-cycle home loan rate increases, citing tough regulatory environment.
Of the major cities, Brisbane residents are the second most likely in the country to want to fix their mortgage after Sydneysiders, with 35.1 per cent saying they would choose a fixed rate home loan over a variable or split option, the www.realestate.com.au reported citing The Courier Mail.
The news comes after Mortgage Choice’s national home loan approval data found Queenslanders were the keenest on fixed rates, with 24.74 per cent of all March loans being locked in.
As to the preferences by age, the younger generation (18 to 29 year olds) are more inclined to take out a fixed rate home loan, followed by the 50 plus age bracket.
Gateway CEO Paul Thomas was cited in the article saying speculation around changing market conditions had rattled borrowers.
“We know property prices are sky high, compound that with low wage growth, high levels of household debt and out of cycle rate hikes and you can expect that consumers might be worried about maintaining a loan, especially if they have no control over repayments because of a fluctuating rate,” Thomas said.
“Borrowers have enjoyed low rates for quite some time but the results suggest that we may be in for tougher times ahead.”
These findings suggest borrowers think that once rates start to shift upwards they won’t be coming back down again for some time, he added.
Borrowers would do well to consider fixing part, or all, of your home loan.
Omniwealth’s Andrew Zbik suggested borrowers take several steps, such as building a cash buffer, having an offset account and budgeting carefully.
Zbik said he suggests to clients to have at least six months of expenses put aside as a cash buffer.
“This will help to shield you from any immediate increases in interest rates and give you time to adjust any spending commitments,” he said.
According to the RBA, only one-in-three households have enough cash on hand to meet one month’s mortgage payments.
Offset accounts are another way to put your surplus cash to work, Zbik said. Your savings and everyday cash flow will be used to reduce the repayments on your home loan. For example, if you have $100,000 of loan outstanding and you have $10,000 in the offset account, the bank will only charge you interest on the $90,000.
He also suggested disciplined budgeting using automatic budget tracking programs such as Moneysoft or MoneyBrilliant.
“Knowing where you spend your money will help you to prepare for where interest rates need to be before cashflow gets tight,” he added.