‘Significant falls’ in interest rates may lie ahead – ANZ

A six-month home loan fix could be an option worth considering, economists at the country’s biggest bank say, because “significant falls” in mortgage rates may lie ahead.

ANZ has released an update in which it downgraded its expectations for house price growth this year to 1 percent, from 3 percent. It also expects an increase of 4 percent next year.

It follows Westpac, which adjusted down its forecast for price growth this year to 2.1 percent on Tuesday.

ANZ said the weaker-than-expected sales data from the Real Estate Institute in May was among the factors that prompted it to move. The number of properties available for sale continued to increase, it said, suggesting that downward pressure on prices would continue for some time.

ANZ’s economists said it now expected official cash rate (OCR) cuts to come sooner than it previously thought. It said these could now start in February, even though the Reserve Bank itself said a cut was not likely until August.

“While there are never any guarantees, confidence is growing that the peak in mortgage rates is behind us and that they will fall over coming quarters as wholesale rates drift lower. That lends itself to borrowers fixing a portion of debt for a shorter term now, with a plan to re-fix again once rates have fallen.

“In that regard, the six-month [rate] may be a contender as it would allow you to fix again soon, but for less, if indeed mortgage rates do fall.”

ANZ’s economists said they expected an “emergence of a downward trend” in wholesale rates over the coming months, which would lead to “significant falls” in mortgage rates.

“Falls are likely to be more gradual at first, as we have seen year-to-date, but if our call for a February start to the easing cycle is right, falls in mortgage rates will become more meaningful as we get nearer year-end and into next year.”

They said the outlook was not without risks and economists and the market had already had to push out their over-optimistic rate cut expectations.

There was not a lot of difference between a six-month rate and a one-year rate at present, they said.

“The six-month costs a little more, but gives the option of re-fixing sooner, and if rates do fall quickly, it may work out cheaper over the long term. A six-month fix will be due for renewal just before Christmas. Break-evens show that interest rates don’t need to fall too far for fixing for a shorter period to be worthwhile in the long run, even though it costs more now.”

ANZ’s forecast is for a one-year rate of about 5.7 percent next June.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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