Fixed vs Floating: New Year, New Interest Rates?

Starting off 2019, interest rates are staying low but the Reserve Bank may have a trick up its sleeve that could have a downstream influence on the great fix versus float debate. Brendon explains.

 

There has been some post-Christmas sharpening of home loan interest rates. 

You will see a 3.99 per cent for one-year and two-year loans currently being advertised. This normally applies for "main bank", owner-occupied clients (in other words, not for low deposits or investor-only clients).

 

From an economic perspective, there doesn't seem to be any upward pressure on these rates for 2019. Interestingly enough, the only pressure that may come to bear is a potential Reserve Bank/government regulation requiring banks to hold more capital.

 

The Reserve Bank has suggested that the percentage of "money [that] banks have in hand per amount of loans outstanding" may need to increase to better protect the banking system from any economic shocks (known as capital adequacy ratios). If this is implemented, it will effectively increase banks’ running costs. Unless the shareholders are willing to take lower returns (??!!), then the customer will pay—at banks, this means increases in interest rates.

 

So, should you fix or float?

 

Securing an interest rate under four per cent isn't bad!

 

Up until now, most of our clients have been fixing for one year because that was the lowest rate and because the expectation was rates would stay low for another year, giving time to re-fix in a year for a still low rate. 

 

The only spanner in the works to this approach is the possibility of the above regulatory change, which still remains to be seen. The potential for changes introduces some uncertainty to the mix and some of our clients may choose to minimise that risk by fixing for two years, at what is now a great two-year rate.

 

Be aware that all clients won't get that exact rate, as it is case-by-case, bank-by-bank. If you have good equity, you should be getting close. Note also that everyone is different, so how long you fix your loan for may be different than the next person.

 

Also note that it is often wise to keep some flexibility. Channelling any cash surplus to your home loan in a smart way can surprise many with the difference it can make.

 

We can work that all out for you.

 

Brendon Ojala is a Registered Financial Adviser with Velocity Financial. No investment decision should be taken based on the information in this blog alone. A disclosure statement is available free of charge upon request.