Finance advice
David Johnston

Is now the time to fix rates?

By David Johnston

Everyone seems to be asking the million dollar question at the moment: is now a good time to fix my debt?

Blogger: David Johnston, founding director, Property Planning Australia

The response very well could be 'how long is a piece of string?'

Why? Because most people I have met are unable to predict the future. Let’s push crystal balls aside and touch on a few points to support the case for fixing –

•    Interest rates are at historical lows. Over the last 15 years I cannot recall interest rates being lower than 4.99%. Currently there are some lenders whose interest rates have breached this historical interest rate barrier.

•    The reserve bank interest rate is the lowest it has ever been at 2.75%.

•    History is usually the best guide for what will happen in the future. Given we currently have historically low interest rates you could surmise they are unlikely to go much lower.

Now, a few reasons for holding your fire –

•    Interest rates could drop further as some pundits are predicting (using that crystal ball no doubt!)

•    If you are on a variable rate loan most lenders will allow you to fix part or all of your debt anytime without cost

•    Historically speaking the analysis suggests that most people have been better off riding out a discounted variable rate rather than fixing debt. Another way to look at it is, the banks have usually made more profit when people have fixed there loan v’s riding the discounted variable rate.

So given all this, I can hear you asking the question, so how do i make a decision then? You may even suggest that I should get off the fence and make a call one way or the other! As with all financial and investment decisions, when we remove the emotion and boil it down, we can better appreciate that our decisions should always be made to enhance our lifestyle and peace of mind. So let’s bring the conversation back to your personal circumstances and preferences. Here are a few key questions you should ask yourself –

•    Would you like more certainty in knowing what your loan repayments will be?

•    Do you feel like you are stretched with your cash flow?

•    Do you have little equity or cash buffer to draw upon if things got tougher?

•    Are you risk averse?

•    If rates kept going lower after you fix, would you be comfortable knowing that you cannot access the lower variable rate without a hefty penalty that would almost certainly make it non-beneficial to get out of your higher fixed rate?

•    Are you confident that you will not sell your house or want to refinance during the fixed rate period?

•    Do you have non-deductible and deductible debt, and would you feel more comfortable knowing that you had a set repayment for part or all of one or the other?

If you answer yes too many of these questions, then you are starting to build a case for fixing your debt. Ultimately, choosing to fix, like most financial and investment decisions should be dependant primarily on assessing your own ‘personal economy’ first and foremost with the ‘external economy’ providing a secondary perspective for decision making.

Fixing really is a risk management strategy so you would be well placed comparing the decision of fixing your loan to that of paying an insurance premium. You hope you don’t need to make a claim (ie variable rates have increased), but if you have to, you will happy that you had it in place. The overarching philosophy when making the decision is “will it help you sleep better at night irrespective of what rates do in the future during the fixed period?”  

Finally, remember that most fixed rate loans have limitations on making additional repayments and do not offer redraw or offset functionality. This means that it usually makes sense to keep an amount of the debt variable permanently. That amount should be at least equal to, or slightly more than you think you could repay during the fixed rate period.
Happy fixing and may your ‘crystal ball’ be tuned in when you make the call. Better yet, have a chat with your trusted mortgage or financial advisor, if you are fortunate enough to have one, before making the big decision.

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About the Blogger

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston is the founding director of Property Planning Australia (PPA) and co-author of Property For Life - Using Property To Plan Your Financial Future. Property Planning Australia was established in 2004 and is a multi-award winning property, finance and financial planning consultancy that provides its clients with a holistic approach to financial and investment advice.

The PPA team specialise in developing holistic property strategies for first home buyers, investors, upgraders and those transitioning into retirement.

FROM THE WEB

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Many investors who would have been successfully approved for finance last year are struggling now to either begin or continue their property investment journey because of the current financial climate.

In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, broker John Manciamelli and Momentum Media director Alex Whitlock joins host Tim Neary to discuss how APRA changes and the royal commission have resulted in a tighter lending economy and what that means for Australian investors.

They discuss what traps investors should avoid if they are trying to obtain finance, the four key growth drivers in a property market and unpacking trust structures while revealing one type of trust that you should miss.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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More than just bricks and mortar, experts often regard property investment as a ‘game of finance’. As such, a good finance strategy can lead any investor to success.

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When buying property, it’s important to focus on what’s important. Investor Katarina Taurian shares just what exactly is important to her: having the mindset of looking past superficial cosmetic matters and homing in on the structural suitability and potential of a property.

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Katarina joins host Tim Neary to unpack her entry into the property market and experiences of rentvesting, and how the Smart Property Investment Show was vital  in a number of decisions which she made along the way.

Katarina discusses about the team that she had help her along the way, why she thinks that you should never skimp on a good solicitor and accountant, and the red flags which tell her why buying a new property doesn’t necessarily mean buying a better property.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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More than just bricks and mortar, experts often regard property investment as a ‘game of finance’. As such, a good finance strategy can lead any investor to success.

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Why buying new property doesn’t mean buying better property
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  ["title"]=>
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Media hype would have you believe that the Australian property market is in dire circumstances at the moment and that there is no money to be made.  But is that really the case?

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, regular guests Steve and Victor of Right Property Group join host Phil Tarrant to discuss the current state of the Australian property market as it is portrayed in the media, and analyse if things are as dire as we are being led to believe.

They will compare regional markets with capital cities as investment options, reveal some areas which they consider to be poor investments at the moment while also discussing some of the markets where they see future potential.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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AREAS MENTIONED: 

Hobart
Sydney
Perth
Brisbane
Shepparton
Cambridge Park
Geelong
Wollongong
Melbourne
Newcastle
Orange
Dubbo
Bathurst
Armidale
Bendigo
Cairns
Ipswich
Emerald
Port Hedland
Surfers Paradise

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More than just bricks and mortar, experts often regard property investment as a ‘game of finance’. As such, a good finance strategy can lead any investor to success.

" ["menu_text"]=> int(1) ["menu_show"]=> int(1) ["page_title"]=> string(53) "Finance Tips and Insights - Smart Property Investment" ["menu-meta_description"]=> string(91) "Financial tips for property investors, from mortgages to cash flow to saving for a deposit." ["secure"]=> int(0) ["page_description"]=> string(11) "sample desc" ["page_rights"]=> NULL ["robots"]=> NULL ["access-view"]=> bool(true) } ["initialized":protected]=> bool(true) ["separator"]=> string(1) "." } ["displayDate"]=> string(19) "2018-09-10 06:23:01" ["slug"]=> string(61) "18524:busting-perceptions-of-a-doom-and-gloom-property-market" ["catslug"]=> string(28) "45:smart-property-investment" ["link"]=> string(81) "/investor-stories-1/18524-busting-perceptions-of-a-doom-and-gloom-property-market" }
Busting perceptions of a doom and gloom property market

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