Property owners who fixed home loans at low rates to save thousands

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Tindall said homeowners with fixed rates could save more, or have time to pay down their mortgages.

Those who had a fixed rate had to meet tougher requirements, including higher interest rate buffers, before qualifying for the loan, standing them in good stead to be able to repay at a higher rate, she said.

But some may not be able to refinance after reverting from their fixed rates, as they may not qualify to borrow as much as they had before interest rate rises began in May, locking them into a “mortgage prison”.

The latest interest rate hike will add an extra $74 per month for those on a variable loan, with a $500,000 mortgage, Tindall said, or a total of $760 per month from all seven interest rate rises.

Sydney-based Atelier Wealth director and finance broker Bernadette Christie-David said current home buyers were looking at both fixed and variable rates, with fixed rates not as attractive as they were more expensive.

“At the moment, variable rates are still considerably cheaper than fixed rates, and fixed rates have been increasing since January,” Christie-David said. “Since February fixed rates have been more expensive.”

Buyers looking for a variable rate were often having conversations about how much their borrowing power could be cut with each interest rate rise.

“If you’re borrowing $800,000 now, an announcement of a 0.5 per cent rise in the cash rate could mean it drops by $50,000, so you can only borrow $750,000,” Christie-David said.

Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan said while some homeowners would be feeling the pain, it was necessary to have such a sharp rise in interest rates because of inflation.

Inflation means interest rates must rise, Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan says.

Inflation means interest rates must rise, Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan says.Credit:Jason South

The latest figures put Australia’s inflation at 7.3 per cent and the RBA aims to lower it to between 2 per cent and 3 per cent.

The Reserve Bank said in its statement on Tuesday that higher interest rates and the rising cost of living were putting pressure on household budgets.

“Inflation turned out to be much stronger than anticipated,” Hassan said. “And with the formidable inflation challenge, it very quickly became clear that having interest rates of near zero was completely inappropriate.”

Interest rates should have been lifted early in 2021, but with the uncertainty of COVID-19 they weren’t, he said, leaving the RBA to play catch up.

Hassan said though interest rate rises were hitting house prices across the country, it was hard to answer whether they were helping to curb inflation.

Inflation was not just being influenced by local buyers, but also international markets, where product supply challenges were lifting demand and prices locally, he said.



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