Lenders get out the shears
Mortgage rates have been tumbling in recent days, with many lenders cutting their short-term rates late last week and early this.
Tuesday, February 13th 2001, 11:55AM
by Paul McBeth
Mortgage rates have been tumbling in recent days, with many lenders cutting their short-term rates late last week and early this. Most one-year fixed rates cluster around 7.15 to 7.40 per cent, but there are a few higher as well as a bunch of lenders sticking their necks out with aggressive 6.95 to 6.99 per cent offers.
That compares with one-year rates mostly ranging between 7.30 and 7.60 per cent just a fortnight ago. Three-year rates have also been falling, from a bank rate of 8.25 per cent before Christmas to 7.3 per cent now.
The next review of official interest rates - the OCR - is due in four weeks' time and Bank of New Zealand Chief Economist Tony Alexander is tipping a cut from 6.50 per cent to 6.25 per cent, with a similar cut in May.
That's likely to help the floating mortgage rates down, with a drop of around 0.5 per cent expected by mid year.
Any OCR cuts should also provide a boost to the housing market, which may well remain relatively subdued until the second half of the year. And there's no doubt that 2000 was a stinker, with a drop of 16.8 per cent on 1999 in the number of houses sold and the lowest annual total for about seven years.
Building permit numbers were also down, 24.1 per cent on 1999 and, again, the lowest annual total in many years. Meanwhile, average house prices were slightly lower last year (although certain regions such as Wellington continued to boom).
For 2001, well, there's some positive news on the housing front. The NZIER survey of architects run before Christmas showed a net 20 per cent expected to see more residential work over this year and wages growth is also expected to pick up.
However, the BNZ's Alexander points out that, overlying all these positives, is the decline in people's willingness to invest in housing. The December quarter WestpacTrust McDermott Miller survey found that only a net 0.8 per cent of people would invest a $5,000 windfall in real estate - and that's a record low.