Big 4 and more increase interest rates

By Huntley Mitchell

The last of the big four banks and two leading regional banks have announced increases to their standard variable rates on investor home loans.

Westpac announced it will raise the standard variable rate on residential investor loans by 27 basis points to 5.75 per cent, effective from 10 August for new customers and from 25 September for existing customers.

Westpac’s fixed rates on investor home loans will also increase, rising by up to 30 basis points, while fixed rates for owner-occupiers will decrease by the same margin. Both of these changes will come into effect immediately.

George Frazis, Westpac’s consumer bank chief executive, said the rate changes are an important step in ensuring the bank meets APRA’s benchmark of investor credit growth not breaching 10 per cent year-on-year.

“We have already introduced a range of initiatives, including increasing the deposit required for investment property loans to 20 per cent as part of our commitment in meeting APRA’s benchmark,” Mr Frazis said.

“However, we are pleased to be able to reduce fixed rates on owner-occupier loans. We know that the dream of many Australians is to get into their own home, and the new, lower fixed rates will benefit customers that are looking for security and peace of mind about their loans and monthly repayments.”

Westpac is the last of the big four banks to announce an increase to its investor rates, with NAB, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ revealing similar changes late last month.

Suncorp Bank will increase its standard variable, Back to Basics and Access Equity/ line of credit rates for new and existing investor loans by up to 27 basis points, effective 31 August.

The changes mean Suncorp’s Investment Standard Variable Rate and Access Equity Reference Rate will start at 5.81 per cent, while its Investment Back to Basics Variable Rate will start at 5.23 per cent.

The bank’s variable rates on owner-occupier loans will remain the same.

Suncorp said in a statement that the changes “reflected regulatory requirements to moderate investor home loan growth across the market and reinforced Suncorp Bank’s own commitment to these requirements”.

Bank of Queensland (BOQ) has also announced it will increase its standard variable rate for residentially-secured investor home loans by 29 basis points, effective from 10 August. Interest rates remain unchanged for BOQ's Clear Path and fixed-term products, as well as the bank's other owner-occupier home loans.

BOQ's group executive for retail banking, Matt Baxby, said the changes balanced the regional's growth objectives with recent market developments and emerging regulatory requirements.

"We are adopting a prudent position that is aligned with the market and balances our own growth objectives with the risks associated with investor lending in general and the overall growth of investor lending in [the] market as a whole," he said.

"While we do have capacity to grow, we need to do so in the right way, and the changes announced [yesterday] reflect that balance."

As well as increasing the interest rate for residentially-secured investment loans, Mr Baxby said BOQ is also enhancing risk requirements across various products.

"These measures include strengthening deposit requirements and tighter controls on variations to standard rates for residential investor lending," he said.

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Future hotspots to keep an eye on

Should you invest in property ‘sight unseen’? 

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