RWC finishes; rate war battle commences

[UPDATED WITH BNZ CHANGES] Now the Rugby World Cup is out of the way banks are starting to get very competitive with their lending offers.

Thursday, November 3rd 2011, 2:39PM

It's a moot point whether the two are related, but it is what we expected to happen. However the magnitude of the first shots fired in the battle have surprised.

The underlying themes to come out of the rate changes are that:

While rates are one front where things are happening some banks are, as one broker described, "throwing money" around at the moment.

The current set of results illustrates that the banks have plenty of money to play with and it is no secret they are sitting on rather fat, or even bloated, margins with their home loan business at the moment.

ANZ appears to be the most generous, offering customers $1,000 towards legal costs, $1,000 cash and even, we are told, little William Webb Ellis cup.

Westpac too is reported to be pretty aggressive in the market. Brokers report not even having to ask for extras. They are getting them anyway.

The cuts to home loan rates are likely to be a fillip for the housing market.

The latest crop of data showed a stalling of earlier promising signs of an upturn in the market.

Sales volumes fell in seasonally adjusted terms in September while consents to build new houses were down sharply in the month. As well, after several months of improvement, new listings of houses available to sell fell a seasonally adjusted 11% in October and the inventory of unsold houses started to climb again.

However, with all the news around at the moment one should be looking at long term trends rather than one month's data.

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