Posts Tagged ‘Interest Rates’

The OCR & Your Home Loan Interest Rate

The Official Cash Rate (OCR) has been prominent in the news lately. That is because in the last 7 weeks it has gone up twice after staying unchanged for a year - it is now at 3.0%. What does this all mean? Well in a nutshell – if the OCR goes up, your home loan interest rate is likely to go up. But usually it is too late once the announcement is made to run out and get a cheap interest rate...

Banks (those guys lending you money for your home) spend a lot of time predicting what is going to happen to interest rates (the OCR movement is part of this) they don’t wait to see what happens at 9am on Monetary Policy Statement and Official Cash Rate review dates (which are usually Thursdays every 6 – 7 weeks apart ) when the governor of the Reserve Bank of NZ (RBNZ), currently found here, makes an announce that the OCR is either going up, going down, or staying the same.

Banks are usually well ahead of the game and have adjusted their fixed term mortgage interest rates well before any OCR announcement – especially those rates for fixed terms of one year and above. Usually, the only interest rates that change immediately when the OCR changes are floating interest rates.

The OCR is not the only factor banks use in setting your home loan interest rate. This interest rate is affected by many things  - one is the ‘funding cost’ – this is the amount  charged by the guys who are lending your bank money (this is the bit where the OCR has some effect) and another is what ‘margin’ your bank decides to put on top – this margin is usually based on cost and risk analysis. Over the last few years, the risk associated with your bank lending you money has increased - amongst other things - house prices have fluctuated and people's ability to make mortgage repayments has been influenced by an economy in recession. This has meant that a larger 'margin' has been added by banks to cover risk.

So should you take any notice of the OCR? Yes! But you need to be paying attention long before the change actually happens - when the OCR goes up (or down), unless it is a big surprise, the change has usually long since been factored into rates available – you are better off focusing more on what the OCR is predicted to be doing over the coming months and using this information when you are deciding about what to do with your home loan.

On OCR announcement days it is actually the commentary that goes along with the OCR announcements that has a greater affect on home loan interest rates. What is said by Dr Alan Bollard can have a strong affect on interest rate forecasting, this is the info that banks are after and are using in their longer term interest rate adjustments. Here you can find what Dr Alan Bollard said on the 29 July 2010 OCR announcement.

Want the run down on monetary policy including about how the OCR affects bank lending rates? Head this way!

Want some expert advice on where mortgage interest rates are heading and help with sorting out lending – a mortgage broker is a good place to start. You can organise a free chat with a local mortgage broker here. Otherwise, check out our mortgages and money section for all you need to know about borrowing for a home.

And don't forget - we have some solid home buying advice in our house buying guide.

Should I Fix or Float My Home Loan? Some Tips…

With talk of interest rates going up soon, this is a hot topic. Here at Propertytoolbox we have some advice and tips on how to make this fix/float decision. If you are after info on just what fixing and floating is - check out our structuring your home loan advice.

The best places to go to be assured that you are taking the advice of people who have all the facts at hand, and all the best brains working on the fix/float question, is banks' websites and sites such as Economic reports and commentaries by banks' chief economists are a great source of information and will give you the information you need to be able to make a decision. Speaking to a mortgage broker can also be a great help - they have access to the most recent information,  and you can discuss your own situation with them to get the most relevant advice - usually for free! You can organise a chat with a mortgage broker here.

While all the major banks publish their own reports, a favourite of ours at Propertytoolbox is the BNZ Weekly Overview. This report comes out weekly and has a section tailored to residential borrowers called 'If I was a borrower what would I do'. The National Bank also has a good report tailored to the property market.

When deciding about structuring your home loan it is always best to gather information from a number of sources - then you can be assured that you are getting the full picture - or as close to it as you can given that nobody can predict the future.

Borrowing is a personal thing and you have to make a decision based on your own personal circumstances. If you are planning to sell your house, or are expecting a windfall then fixing may not be a good option as you may get charged large break fees when you pay off your loan. Also, if your circumstances mean that your finances cannot handle an increase in mortgage repayments then having large amounts floating or on very short term fixed may be too risky.

Here are some questions to ask yourself that may help you to decide:

  • Are you likely to have any extra money that can go into your mortgage - a large amount or small amount here and there?
  • Are you likely to move house - What are your plans for the next few years? Do you have plans to move on? Might you have to move for your job? Is your family growing? Might you go overseas?
  • How do you feel about risk? - Would you rather know exactly what you repayments are going to be or are you happy with some variability.
  • Current mortgage interest rates - Are interest rates on their way down or up?
  • What are the experts saying?

When it comes down to it, nobody really knows what is going to happen in the future with mortgage interest rates. There are a lot of factors involved and the New Zealand and global economy all have an influence.

If you feel that you need help with this decision, then talking to a lending specialist at your bank, or a mortgage broker is really your best option. Not sure about mortgage brokers? Find out just how mortgage brokers work here.