Trending Financial News 2 October

Owner occupier rule change hits 100,000 borrowers

Around 100,000 Australian home loan borrowers could be hit with interest rate increases on owner occupier mortgages after the banking regulator APRA reclassified the definition of owner occupier loans.

An “owner occupier loan” has been tightened and now only refers to a borrower’s primary place of residence, not holiday houses and “secondary residences.” Loans covering these types of properties, even if they aren’t being leased, are now officially classified by banks as investment loans, reported today. Investment loans have higher interest rates than owner occupier loans.

In July, all four big banks reclassified billions of dollars worth of owner occupier loans as investor loans.

RBA cuts rates and signals more cuts coming soon

The Reserve Bank of Australia yesterday cut official interest rates by 0.25 percentage points to 0.75 per cent. The RBA board pointed to slowing global growth as a result of trade tensions between the USA and China, slowing domestic growth and rising unemployment as reasons for the cut. The RBA again said it would be prepared to cut rates again and predicted employment growth would slow.

Read more about the outlook for Australian interest rates at InfoChoice.

Two big banks deliver rate cuts

Commonwealth Bank and NAB have already responded to the latest reduction in the RBA cash rate. Neither big bank passed on the full 0.25 percentage point cut.

Commonwealth Bank cut its variable home loan rate for owner-occupiers paying principal and interest by 0.13 percentage points. Commonwealth Bank’s new lowest advertised variable rate is now 3.22 per cent pa. National Australia Bank cut its owner-occupier variable rates by 0.15 percentage points. NAB’s lowest variable rate is now 3.20 per cent pa. NAB cut rates for investors paying interest only by up to 0.30 percentage points.

Which lenders are passing on the RBA rate cut?

Smaller online and non-bank lenders have rushed to pass on the full 0.25 percentage point RBA rate cut to borrowers.

Online lender Athena was the first lender to announce it will match the RBA’s cut. Athena’s new variable home loan rate for owner occupiers paying principal and interest is 2.84 per cent pa (comparison rate 2.80 per cent pa). For investors, Athena’s new home loan rate is 3.24 per cent pa (comparison rate 3.20 per cent pa).

Auswide Bank has also passed on the full 0.25 percentage point rate cut. Auswide’s new rate on its RBA Rate Tracker Home Loan for owner occupiers paying principal and interest is 3.24 per cent pa (comparison rate 3.26 per cent).

UBank is passing on the full 0.25 percentage point RBA rate cut to new and existing customers on variable rate loans from 29 October 2019.

Reduce Home Loans has cut home loan rates by 0.20 percentage points. G&C Mutual has cut its variable rate first home-owner loan by 0.50 percentage points to 2.79 per cent pa.

Cryptocurrencies slide in September

Most major cryptocurrencies have lost value during September trading. One Bitcoin (BTC) is now worth AUS$12,384, down $1876 (13%) from the beginning of September. 

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) lost AUS$75 in September (18% to be trading now around $338. Ripple (XRP) is steady, losing just 1% over the month to now be trading at AUS$0.38. Ethereum gained almost 5 per cent over the last month, adding $12 to AUS$268. Keep up to date with the latest information on cryptocurrencies at InfoChoice.

Interest rates in uncharted territory

Australian monetary policy is now entering uncharted waters – where it has never been before. The RBA has cut interest rates three times in five months to take the overnight cash rate to 0.75 per cent, the lowest rates Australia has ever seen.

The RBA has previously signalled that it is willing to take rates lower and economists are predicting one more rate cut by February 2020. An RBA rate of 0.50 per cent could be the lowest the RBA is willing to take rates with unconventional policy options, such as Quantitative Easing, then on the table.

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