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Official cash rate on its way to 0.5%, says one third of Finder's RBA Survey experts


UPDATE: Official cash rate on its way to 0.5%, says one third of Finder's RBA Survey experts

17 Jul 19 Source: Property Observer

Nearly a third of experts and economists surveyed in Finder.com.au's RBA Cash Rate Survey predict the RBA to bring the official cash rate all the way down to 0.5 percent.

Just over 70% of experts predict the bottom of the cycle at 0.75%.

The numbers are more convincing in favour of a rate cut in July, with 68% tipping a second cash rate cut in as many months.

Graham Cooke, insights manager at Finder, said lenders should be gearing up to get busy with further rate reductions.


“The RBA will have its scissors out for the foreseeable future to try to stimulate inflation and reduce unemployment, and lenders should be ready to follow suit.

“The heat is on for those banks who only passed on a partial rate cut (less than 25 basis points) after the June rate reduction.

"Doing the right thing by their customers this time around – by passing on a cut in its entirety – could see them redeem themselves,” he said.

“So far, we’ve seen more than 700 variable rate products reduced in June alone, with more than 1,000 rates reduced if you include fixed rate loans. 

Across all of the variable rates Finder compares, the average rate has dropped more than 20 basis points in June.

“The winners here are borrowers – they are spoilt for choice with the lowest home loan rates we’ve ever seen,” he said. 

Currently, the lowest variable home loan rate on the market is 3.09% from Reduce Home Loans, while some banks (UBank and Greater Bank), are offering a one year fixed rate of 2.99%. 

It was only late last year that nearly 80% of economists thought the next cash rate would be a hike.



 

Finder research suggests two further cuts, the most popular forecast for the rest of 2019, would see a variable rate mortgage holder with a loan of $1 million save $3,538 a year.

“If the cash rate does get to 0.50%, down from 1.50% in May, and your bank were to pass on all of the four rate cuts in full, an average mortgage holder* could be saving nearly $3,000 a year on their mortgage,” Cooke said.

“Of course you don’t have to wait around for these cuts to happen – you can go home loan shopping for a better deal anytime. 

“It’s a borrower’s market. A new standard has been set with sub-3% home loan rates so compare options to maximise your savings in the long run.” 




2 Jul 2019 | Source: Domain.com.au | Author: TRENT WILTSHIRE

The RBA made it clear that further interest rate cuts, in addition to Tuesday’s cut, are very likely.

The RBA stated on Tuesday that it will “continue to monitor developments in the labour market closely and adjust monetary policy if needed to support sustainable growth in the economy and the achievement of the inflation target”.

On the Monday before the RBA’s meeting, the financial markets predicted that the cash rate would fall to 0.75 per cent by February 2020, with the possibility of it going even lower by mid-2020.

There is one key reason the RBA will continue to cut interest rates. The central bank believes the unemployment rate needs to be below 4.5 per cent to push inflation from the current rate of 1.3 per cent up into its 2 to 3 per cent target range. Typically, lower unemployment contributes to higher inflation. The RBA previously thought that an unemployment rate of about 5 per cent was low enough for inflation to reach the 2 to 3 per cent target.

With the unemployment rate currently at 5.1 per cent, lower interest rates are needed to give the economy a boost and push the unemployment rate below 4.5 per cent. So the cash rate is likely to end up at 0.75 per cent or even 0.5 per cent within the next year. 
 


Fiscal stimulus might be needed to boost the economy

The RBA has pushed the government to deploy fiscal stimulus, either in the form of increased spending or tax cuts, to provide a boost to the economy. 

Dr Lowe recently stated that “we should also be looking at other ways to get closer to full employment. One option is fiscal policy, including through spending on infrastructure”. 

Typically, the short-term fine-tuning of the economy is left to the RBA, with fiscal stimulus only used in times of crisis. But with interest rates approaching zero, the lowest point they can reach, fiscal stimulus may be needed to give a short-term boost to the economy.

But there are drawbacks to using fiscal stimulus to boost economic growth.

First, it is difficult for the government to inject money into the economy immediately, except in the form of tax rebates or cash handouts. The proposed “stage one” tax rebate will provide a small, but immediate, boost to household incomes if fully implemented.

Spending on infrastructure – even for planned projects – however, can take months or years to begin. 

Second, there is the likelihood that money spent on infrastructure will be spent badly. Money is more likely to be allocated to projects in marginal seats, rather than on the most-needed projects.

But even so, in times of crisis, some waste may be justified to avoid the dire consequences of a recession, particularly a rise in unemployment which can scar a generation of workers

Despite the arguments for fiscal stimulus, the government has reaffirmed its commitment to a budget surplus in 2019-20. But if the economy continues to slow and unemployment doesn’t fall the government should be open to changing its position. 

Another alternative to fiscal stimulus is for the RBA to adopt unconventional monetary policies, such as by buying government bonds or other financial assets, to reduce longer-term interest rates. These strategies have been used overseas when interest rates have approached zero and would be an effective way for the RBA to boost the economy when the cash rate cannot be lowered any further. 

Stabilising property prices could help the economy

We forecast that property price falls seen in most capital cities are expected to end later this year, with lower interest rates a key reason for the predicted turnaround. 

The RBA stated that “[c]onditions in most housing markets remain soft, although there are some tentative signs that prices are now stabilising in Sydney and Melbourne”.

A modest turnaround in property prices should help the broader economy. Rising prices will help boost the construction sector, which is facing a downturn in the next couple of years. The end of price declines will also give a boost to very weak property sales, which will help those closely linked to the property sector, but also struggling retailers and tradespeople. 

 

House price forecasts

 2019 (6 month change)2020 (annual change)
Australia (combined-capital cities)1%2% – 4%
Sydney2%3% – 5%
Melbourne1%1% – 3%
Brisbane1%3% – 5%
Perth0%0% – 2%
Adelaide1%1% – 3%
Hobart0%2% – 4%
Canberra2%4% – 6%
Notes: Stratified median house price forecasts. 2019 forecast is 6 month per cent change from June quarter 2019 to the December quarter 2019. 2020 forecast is the annual per cent change from December quarter 2019 to December quarter 2020. Darwin excluded from forecasts due to small volumes and market volatility.


 

Unit price forecasts

 2019 (6 month change)2020 (annual change)
Australia (combined-capital cities)1%1% – 3%
Sydney2%2% – 4%
Melbourne1%0% – 2%
Brisbane0%0% – 2%
Perth0%0% – 2%
Adelaide2%1% – 3%
Hobart2%3% – 5%
Canberra1%1% – 3%
Notes: Stratified median house price forecasts. 2019 forecast is 6 month per cent change from June quarter 2019 to the December quarter 2019. 2020 forecast is the annual per cent change from December quarter 2019 to December quarter 2020. ‘Units’ includes units and apartments. Darwin excluded from forecasts due to small volumes and market volatility.


More cuts to come

The official interest rate is now at a record low of 1 per cent, but the RBA is likely to cut rates even further this year. However, these cuts may not be enough to turnaround a slowing economy. Fiscal stimulus — in the form of tax cuts, cash handouts or spending on infrastructure — may be required to give the economy the boost it needs.