5 ways to prepare for home loan rate hikes
Sometimes interest rate hikes are inevitable, but if you build up a buffer, budget carefully and watch your interest rate you can save a lot of money.
5 tips at a glance
Anyone with a mortgage needs to keep an eye on their interest rate. This rate is a major factor in how lenders calculate the interest they charge on your home loan debt.
There are five things you can do to keep rate rises from blowing your budget up. Some of these steps are precautions you can take right now, such as saving a buffer, while others like refinancing are steps you can take when a rate rise hits.
1. Start building a buffer
Instead of making the minimum payment on your home loan, start adding a little extra to your repayments. You’ll be surprised how quickly this can add up, as evidenced by the calculator below.
Another strategy you can use is to make split your monthly repayment amount in half and pay it fortnightly rather than monthly. Paying fortnightly means you’ll end up making an additional repayment each year, as you can see below.
Monthly repayment: $3,000
Paid monthly: $3,000 x 12 = $36,000 per year
Paid fortnightly: $3,000/2 = $1,500. $1,500 x 26 = $39,000
This strategy will effectively put you a month ahead on your home loan repayments, which will give you a bit of a buffer should rates rise.
You can also work in your own interest rate buffer. Figure out your home loan repayment should variable rates rise, for example, by 2%.
This strategy also helps you build up a buffer of extra repayments, and it also has the benefit of getting you used to making higher repayments before your lender raises rates.
2. Try to negotiate a better rate
Many borrowers don’t realise that they may be able to negotiate a better rate with their current lender just by asking. If you call your current lender and tell them you’re considering refinancing, they may be able to offer you a discount on your current interest rate.
If your lender is willing to trim a few basis points off your current rate, future rate rises won’t hit you quite as hard. Should your lender hike its rate by 0.25%, getting yourself a 0.10% discount now means you’ll effectively get hit with only a 15 basis point hike in the future.
3. Work out a budget
Budgeting for future rate hikes now means you’ll be prepared when they become a reality. Again, using our repayments calculator you can see what your home loan repayment would be should rates rise. Even if you don’t proactively begin paying this higher amount, you can work out a budget to ensure you’ll be able to when it happens.
4. Consider fixing now
Fixing your entire home loan can always be a bit of a risky strategy. You’re wagering on the idea that variable rates are likely to rise rather than fall. While fixing means you’ll be insulated from rate hikes, it also means you won’t benefit from rate reductions. With this in mind, if you choose to fix your home loan rate you should do so to lock in a repayment you’re comfortable with.
Fixed rates are already beginning to rise, so time is of the essence in employing this strategy. In the past few weeks, lenders have hiked fixed rates by up to 60 basis points. Good deals on fixed rates still exist, though. If you lock in a rate now at a repayment level you know you can manage, you’ll have the peace of mind that you won’t face mortgage stress in the future.
5. Tackle other debts
You can free up some extra cash for the potential of higher home loan rates in the future if you focus on paying off other debts in the present. If you have a personal loan or credit card debt, devote yourself to attacking the debt now. This is a particularly important strategy if you have a variable rate personal loan.
If you focus on paying off debts that attract a higher interest rate, you’ll free up money that you can devote to home loan repayments. Should home loan rates begin to rise, the extra surplus cash you’ve freed up means you won’t be caught flat-footed.
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