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What will happen to interest rates in 2017?

Posted: 3 January 2017 3:18 pm
News

RBA 2016 in review

The Reserve Bank could put an end to the "new normal" of low rates.

The forecast for interest rates in 2017 has changed drastically since 2016. While last year started with the near-certainty that rock-bottom rates were here to stay, this year begins with lenders having already hiked rates and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) tipped to follow suit.

Low interest rates have been the “new norm” for some time now. The RBA began its current easing cycle all the way back in November 2011. Over the course of the last five years, the RBA has dropped the cash rate from 4.75% all the way to its current 1.50%.

Lenders have largely followed suit, with borrowing rates hitting record lows. But all the while lenders have cut rates, they have also been vocal about the increasing gulf between their funding costs and the Reserve Bank cash rate.

What happened last year

Coming into 2016, the Reserve Bank had maintained a “wait and see” approach for some time. Inflation remained low, but so did unemployment. The housing market had continued booming, and the Reserve worried further rate cuts could cause it to overheat.

At the outset of the year, 56% of the experts surveyed in finder.com.au’s Monthly RBA Survey expected the official cash rate to remain untouched at 2.00% for the duration of 2016. Only 34% foresaw a rate cut during the course of the year, with 52% tipping a rise in 2017.

But the Reserve Bank had some surprises in store for experts. In May, the Bank trimmed the official cash rate to 1.75%. This was in spite of 96% of experts in finder.com.au’s survey forecasting a rate hold. Economists and pundits were certain the RBA would maintain its “wait and see” approach, and hold fire until the Federal Budget. The RBA had other plans.

Home loan rate in review 2016

Along with the Reserve Bank cut came a wave of cuts from lenders, albeit at a slow pace. Lenders seemed to use the opportunity to take a stand on their funding costs. Many failed to pass on the RBA’s full 25 basis point cut. While three of the four major banks did pass on the full cut (ANZ cut by only 19 basis points), they took their time doing so. The big four waited an average of 20 days before passing on rate cuts.

When the lenders did pass on cuts, they did so with a warning: their funding costs were no longer directly tied to the RBA cash rate, so borrowers could no longer expect them to move in lock-step with the Reserve.

For the Reserve Bank’s part, it played to economists’ expectations when it chose to cut rates again in August. It moved on rates after figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed the lowest annual inflation rate in more than 17 years.

What 2017 could hold

Lenders stood their ground following August's rate cut, with many passing along half or less of the RBA’s 25 basis point reduction. The major banks averaged just an 11.75 basis point cut, and took between 10 and 21 days to make their changes.

The signal lenders sent in August was an important one. They would willingly suffer consumer ire in order to chart their own course on rates. This mindset was on full display following the final RBA meeting of the year. In spite of the RBA holding rates steady, lenders began to shift their rates upward.

The rate changes began with moves on fixed rates. This soon led to rate hikes for investor variable rates. Finally, lenders began to move variable rates upward for owner-occupiers.

The usual pattern for interest rates has been one of the RBA setting the course and lenders following suit. In 2017, it's possible these roles could be reversed. Lenders have already moved on rates, and 37% of experts surveyed by finder.com.au believe the RBA will follow suit within the next two years.

While the year began with economists predicting an RBA easing cycle continuing into the foreseeable future, most experts now believe the RBA’s next move will be up. After more than five years of easing, the Reserve Bank is tipped to begin tightening the official cash rate once again in 2017 or 2018.

At the outset of 2016, record-low interest rates appeared to the “new normal”. The year ahead appears to be anything but.

Compare today's rates below

Data indicated here is updated regularly
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Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate
2.49%
2.49%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
St.George Basic Home Loan - LVR 60% to 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.64%
2.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback. A competitive variable rate loan from St.George. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
Athena Celebrate Home Loan - 60% LVR  Owner Occupier, P&I
2.34%
2.34%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
Owner occupiers with 40% deposits or equity can get this competitive variable rate loan. No upfront or ongoing fees.
Westpac Flexi First Option Home Loan - Basic Variable Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
2.72%
$0
$8 monthly ($96 p.a.)
95%
Up to $3,000 refinance cashback.
A flexible and competitive variable rate loan. Eligible borrowers refinancing $250,000 or more can get $2,000 cashback per property plus a bonus $1,000 for their first application. Other conditions apply.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset - LVR Under 60% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
2.31%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
A competitive rate with no application or ongoing fee. This loan is not available for construction.
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)
2.59%
2.60%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online.
Yard Variable Home Loan - LVR 80% Special (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.39%
2.42%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A very low variable rate loan for home buyers with an optional offset account ($10 monthly fee). 20% deposit required.
Well Home Loans Balanced Variable - LVR 80% Special Offer (Owner occupier, P&I)
2.17%
2.20%
$250
$0 p.a.
80%
A very low interest rate for home buyers with 20% deposits saved. Add an offset account for a small fee. This special discount rate is available for new borrowers who apply and get approved by 30 November 2020. Not available for construction purposes.
Virgin Money Reward Me Variable Home Loan - LVR ≤ 60% (<$500k Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.64%
2.81%
$300
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
60%
$3,000 refinance cashback.
A variable rate loan for owner occupiers with a 40% deposit (or equity) borrowing under $500,000. Get a $3,000 cashback when you switch to Virgin Money with a loan amount of $300,000 or more with an LVR up to 80%. You must apply by 29 November 2020 and settle by 28 February 2021.
Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I
2.44%
2.38%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable rate mortgage for owner occupiers $0 application and $0 ongoing fees. This interest rate falls over time as you pay off the loan.
IMB Budget Home Loan - LVR ≤80% (Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.61%
2.67%
$449
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable rate for borrowers with 20% deposits saved. Available for NSW and ACT borrowers only.
Athena Evaporate Home Loan - 60% to 70% LVR  Owner Occupier, P&I
2.39%
2.36%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A low variable rate for owner occupiers with 30% deposits. No upfront or ongoing fees.
AMP Bank Professional Package Variable Rate Home Loan - $100,000 and above, LVR ≤ 80% incl. LMI (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
3.00%
$0
$349 p.a.
80%
Get a sharp rate with no application or settlement fee, a redraw facility and 100% offset account. Other fees and charges apply.
Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR ≤ 60% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.49%
2.49%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
A competitive variable rate home loan for owner-occupiers. Requires a 40% deposit.
IMB Budget Home Loan - Special LVR  ≤90% (Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.78%
2.84%
$449
$0 p.a.
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. You can get an interest rate discount for a limited time with this competitive variable mortgage.
Yard Variable Home Loan - LVR 90% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.65%
2.68%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A competitive variable rate for home buyers with 10% deposits saved. Optional offset account (with $10 monthly fee).
Bankwest Complete Home Loan Package Variable - $200k to <$750k LVR ≤80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.73%
3.18%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
A low variable rate loan with a 100% offset account and package discounts.
Sydney Mutual Bank Special Fixed Home Loan - 3 Year (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.28%
2.86%
$250
$0 p.a.
95%
A competitive fixed rate loan for home buyers. Available with a 5% deposit.
Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.64%
2.64%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application and ongoing fees and take advantage of split and redraw options.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset - LVR 60% to 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.39%
2.41%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
This loan offers a competitive variable rate and a 100% offset account to help save you on interest repayments. This loan is not available for construction.
Virgin Money Reward Me Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year $300k+ Special offer (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
2.87%
$300
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
$3,000 refinance cashback.
Buy your home and lock in a low rate for the first two years. Get a $3,000 cashback when you switch to Virgin Money with a loan amount of $300,000 or more with an LVR up to 80%. You must apply by 29 November 2020 and settle by 28 February 2021.
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer LVR 90% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.69%
2.70%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A competitive value home loan with no ongoing fee.
Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR ≤ 90% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
3.04%
3.04%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Borrow up to $750K with an LVR ≤ 90% and pay no application fee.
Heritage Bank Discount Variable Home Loan - LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I) New Customers Only
2.78%
2.83%
$600
$0 p.a.
80%
Family guarantee option available. Enjoy flexible repayments and a low minimum loan amount.
Bank of Melbourne Basic Home Loan - Special Offer (Owner Occupiers, P&I) LVR above 60% up to 80%
2.64%
2.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
A competitive variable rate loan from Bank of Melbourne. Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
Bluestone Prime Direct (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.49%
2.51%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Bluestone's Prime Direct is a competitive variable rate home loan for borrowers with 30% deposits.
BankSA Basic Home Loan - Owner Occupier, P&I
2.64%
2.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
A competitive variable rate loan from BankSA. Refinancers borrowing $200,000 or more can get a $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
Heritage Bank Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I) New Customers Only
2.59%
4.30%
$600
$8 monthly ($96 p.a.)
95%
Get a partial offset account and the option to make interest-only repayments.
UBank UHomeLoan - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.14%
2.41%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive fixed interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Requires a 20% deposit.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society  Premium Plus Package Fixed Rate - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.44%
3.76%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
$2,000 refinance cashback
Enjoy a discounted fixed rate and the ability to package the loan with other financial products. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Investor Variable P&I Rate
2.89%
2.89%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a discounted, low-fee investor loan from a convenient online lender. 20% deposit required.
G&C Mutual Bank Momentum Home Loan - LVR <50% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.55%
2.57%
$0
$0 p.a.
A variable rate loan for owner-occupiers looking to refinance. This loan has low fees and a 100% offset account.
UBank UHomeLoan - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, IO)
2.29%
2.44%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive 3 year fixed rate with no ongoing bank fees.
Athena Variable Home Loan - Owner Occupier, IO
2.99%
2.59%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Owner occupiers can refinance to one of the most competitive interest-only rates in the market. No application fee and no ongoing fees.
Heritage Bank Advantage Package - 1 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I) New Customers Only
2.59%
3.34%
$0
$350 p.a.
95%
Get a partial offset account and flexible repayments with this package loan.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Real Deal Home Loan - Special Offer 1 (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
2.63%
$595
$0 p.a.
80%
$2,000 refinance cashback
$2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
Greater Bank Great Rate Discount Variable with Family Pledge Home Loan - Up to 110% LVR
2.68%
2.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
110%
Pay no deposit or LMI and get a discounted rate with this family pledge loan. Requires a family member to act as guarantor. NSW, QLD and ACT only.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Year Fixed (LVR 90% Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.39%
3.08%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. 3 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online. Available with a 10% deposit.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Investor, IO)
2.44%
2.85%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.54%
3.98%
$595
$0 p.a.
95%
$2,000 refinance cashback
Borrow up to 95% LVR of the value of the property you're buying and pay no ongoing fees. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
CUA Achieve Variable Home Loan - $500k+ (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.55%
2.60%
$600
$0 p.a.
95%
Home buyers can get a competitive, low-fee variable rate plus a 100% offset account. Low deposit option available. Eligible new home buyers with low deposits can apply for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme with this lender and avoid LMI costs. Eligible refinancers can get a $2,000 pre-paid credit card when they switch to CUA.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.14%
2.46%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Fix your mortgage for 1 year with a very competitive rate and no ongoing fees.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Years Fixed (LVR ≤90% Investor, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.64%
3.56%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. A 3 years fixed rate investor which allows extra repayments to be made.
Hunter United Fixed Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.19%
2.71%
$350
$0 p.a.
90%
Lock in a competitive rate for two years. Available with a 10% deposit.
Westpac Fixed Options Home Loan Premier Advantage Package - 2 Year (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
3.53%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
Up to $3,000 refinance cashback.
Competitive fixed rate loan available with a 5% deposit. Eligible borrowers refinancing $250,000 or more can get up to $3,000 cashback. Other conditions apply.
Endeavour Mutual Bank Special Fixed Home Loan - 3 Year (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.28%
2.86%
$250
$0 p.a.
95%
A competitive 3 year fixed rate loan for home buyers. Available with a 5% deposit.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Premium Plus Package Home Loan - New Customer Offer Discount 1 ($150k+ Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.94%
3.34%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
$2,000 refinance cashback
New borrowers or refinancers can get a discounted rate with this package loan. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (LVR 90% Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.19%
3.10%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. 2 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online. Available with a 5% deposit.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, IO)
2.29%
2.47%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A one year fixed rate offer with no ongoing bank fees.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Investor, P&I)
2.29%
2.84%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
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