What is the Best Option? – Floating, Short Term, or Longer-Term Interest Rates

The question on everyone’s lips… when will mortgage rates start going down again?

Many economists are predicting that interest rates have reached their peak. Best Options

People are voting with their actions – 56% of new loans, bank switches, and top-ups are currently fixed at terms of 1 year or less.

But of course, you never know what could be just around the corner for the economy.

So, with that in mind, is a short-term mortgage rate the way to go right now?

Let’s explore your best option.

The Benefits of a Fixed-Term Mortgage

We’ve previously talked about the benefits of a fixed-term mortgage.

For a start, fixed-term rates, especially the longer-term fixed rates in this type of market are generally lower than any floating option.

The lenders are encouraging borrowers to fix longer term with the range of interest rates on offer at present.

Borrowers need to pay a higher interest rate for both flexibility and short-term stability of repayment.

Longer-term fixed interest rates offer clients a lower interest rate, but less flexibility if (when) interests do reduce.

Currently, floating rates are upwards of 8.6% and the highest fixed-term rates are sitting just above 7.2%.

It is not just the cost saving that is beneficial.

With a fixed term rate, you can gain certainty about how much your mortgage will cost you each month which makes it easier to budget for.

It can be easier to manage your finances, giving you a sense of stability in a volatile market.

When interest rates are high, like they are currently, it can feel scary to fix your mortgage for any length of time because you will likely have to lock in a rate that is higher than what you are currently paying.

But often, fixed terms still work out better for Kiwi households.

How Long Should I Fix For?

The Reserve Bank’s latest figures show as many as 59% of existing mortgages will have to move to higher interest rates in the next 12 months.

That means the worst of the mortgage pain has not yet been felt by all households.

But, just how high will those higher rates be?

The answer is, that no matter what happens between now and the end of 2024, interest rates will be higher than the glory days of 2021 when the average one-year term was 2.2%.

So, how long should you fix for?

The answer to this question depends on your personal circumstances and your plans for the short, medium, and long term.

When selecting the fixed term, we need to keep in mind:

  • your overall mortgage goals
  • current economic conditions
  • what you personally think interest rates might do over the next 1-3 years
  • do you need flexibility or stability of repayment
  • how often do you want to review the mortgage

All these factors are important, and they are different for everybody. Having a quick chat with your mortgage broker who is literally dealing with dozens of these scenarios each month can help with your decision making.

  • If you believe rates will stay the same or drop over the next 1 year to 18 months, then you would probably consider a shorter-term rate.
  • If you believe rates will stay the same or move up over the next 1-3 years or more, then you might consider a longer-term rate.

Do you want short-term flexibility, short-term stability of repayment (or a combination of these) or would you rather take a longer-term view and have stability of repayment for a longer period?

Short-term mortgage rates are still high in comparison to the longer fixed terms.

As of 30 April, BNZ have their 1-year rate listed at 7.24% and their 3-year rate at 6.65%.

That is quite a significant difference.

Is Shorter Better?

The popularity of short-term fixed rates is rising.

In December, 36% of new loans, top-ups, and bank switches were fixed for one year or less.

But, by February, that number was up to 56%.

It shows an increasing preference to fix for a shorter term in case the interest rates drop soon.

While the logic is sound for this decision, it may not necessarily be the best strategy (for you) to fix for the shortest term possible.

Here is an example scenario from BNZ chief economist, Mike Jones:

It’s possible to fix for two years now at about 6.80%. Alternatively, a borrower could fix for one year at about 7.25% and then, assuming rates do fall, roll onto a lower one-year rate in a year’s time.

“To ‘break-even’ on the shorter-term strategy, the one-year rate in a year’s time needs to be about one percentage point lower, so about 6.30%, based on current market pricing.” [source].

He says that while the scenario is possible and there could be value in fixing for one year at a time, forecasts don’t always go to plan.

There could also be value in looking at a slightly longer term depending on your circumstances.

What’s The Plan?

So, how long should you fix your mortgage for if it is coming up for renewal soon?

A short-term mortgage rate or something slightly longer?

While there is uncertainty in the air as to when the rates will finally begin to drop, it is best to seek advice from a mortgage broker to see what is the right option for you.

Fixing for a shorter term can give you the flexibility to jump on rate reductions or work with the property market.

Whereas fixing for a slightly longer term gives you a better rate upfront and a set figure to budget for.

Book a Meeting – Phone or Zoom

Frequently Asked Questions

The advantage of using a mortgage adviser is that they can negotiate with a number of lenders to find the deal that best suits you. They do all the leg work for you, saving you time.

We help assess all your options, whereas the Bank is restricted by being only able to present one view.

While banks expect the client will negotiate with them, or accept the given rate, mortgage brokers are more likely to go to bat for you, to get a lower interest rate.

Our processes make financing your house purchase easy; providing quick personal service that takes the stress out of financing your home loan. With our wealth of experience in the finance industry, we know how to get the best deal for you.

Absolutely! We can still work with you using email, phone calls, and video calls. Whatever your financial situation is, we have a range of options to communicate with you whatever circumstances.

Yes, we have an online application system or a pdf form that can be completed. Supporting documents can either be uploaded directly into our system or emailed. We can use telephone, zoom, or email for further clarification or look at scenarios and receive and send information.

A home loan pre-approval is a conditional approval confirming that we can lend you a certain amount of money, provided the property you purchase meets the lender’s home loan criteria. It’s a good idea to ask us for a home loan pre-approval before you start house hunting. It will help you determine how much you can borrow and to give you some bargaining power when negotiating a purchase price.

Saving a deposit is probably the biggest hurdle for most first home buyers. First home buyers need to have saved at least 5% deposit with 20% or more being the optimum. Remember that this can be made up from a KiwiSaver first home withdrawal and some first home buyers may also be eligible for a HomeStart Grant. Gifts and deed of debts from friends and family are also common.

While there has been a lot of publicity about the need for home buyers to have a 20% deposit; there are still options available for you. We can talk you through what may be available to you including:

  • The ability to access low equity loans
  • Using your Kiwisaver contributions towards your deposit
  • Building your own home
  • Accessing parental assistance to increase your deposit.

The size of your deposit makes a big difference to the interest rate and the other costs you could potentially pay on your home loan. Generally, for lending where the deposit is less than 20%, the lender will also charge a Low Equity Fee (LEF) or Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). Interest rates may also be higher for loans with a low deposit.

Whilst assessing a loan application, banks will scrutinise your bank account (usually the most recent 3 months bank statements).

In particular, they are looking at how well (or not) you manage your account.

Do you have dishonors, and or unauthorised overdrafts?

The better your account conduct the better your chances!

The banks also want to make sure all expenses including fixed and discretionary costs are included in the mortgage application expenses.

This will be determined by your income, your capacity to repay the loan, and the property type along with the current lending restrictions imposed by the reserve bank. Contact us today to find out.

The income you will need to earn will depend on the size of the loan, the bigger your loan the more you will need to earn.

As a rule of thumb if you are a first home buyer who is currently renting and have also been able to save some money there is a good chance you will meet the banks’ income criteria.

A LIM report is a summary of information that the local Counsel hold on a property. The report covers off information regarding consents, permits, code of compliance, potential erosion, subsidence, flooding of any type and the possible presence of hazardous substances. private and public stormwater and sewerage drain, rates, including any overdue rates.

Your solicitor should review this document.

Absolutely, we do this every day for many existing clients. We can use our scenario calculator to ensure you meet lender criteria and affordability for yourself.

Yes, you can borrow money in New Zealand and may be able to borrow up to 80-90% of the purchase price of a home.

To be eligible to for the KiwiSaver First Home Withdrawal Scheme you must:

Be purchasing your first home;

  • Have been a member of KiwiSaver for a minimum of three years;
  • Have your KiwiSaver account with a KiwiSaver provider that allows saving withdrawals; and
  • Intend to live in the property for at least six months
  • We recommend that you contact your KiwiSaver provider and check their individual policy on withdrawals for first homes.
  • If you are eligible to withdraw money from your KiwiSaver, you may also be eligible for a first home deposit subsidy of up to $20,000.00 from Housing New Zealand – known as a HomeStart Grant.

Using a mortgage broker generally means no direct costs to you for their services but there are other unavoidable costs. These may include:

  • A Registered Valuation ($800 – $1,200)
  • Solicitor Costs ($800 – $1,500)
  • LIM report ($150 – $400)
  • Builder’s Report ($100 – $500)
  • Weather Tightness Report for Monoclad houses ($300 – $1,000)
  • Finance fee for non-bank lending (~1%)

Prices can vary. Always request a quote before ordering any of these services. 

The banks all have different policies and risk tolerances. Buyers can get frustrated and waste a lot of time going to banks that won’t suit their needs.

Using a mortgage broker gives you a view of all the banks and their policies. It means you find the right bank faster and with less stress. With a mortgage broker, getting a mortgage isn’t complicated.

It’s about proving you have enough deposit and enough income and then heading to the right bank with that information.

Some tips to making your mortgage application easier: get your documentation sorted early and keep your spending as low as possible in the 3 months leading up to your application.

We will always act in the best interest of the client and will ensure that any deal we broker is the best we can do for the client.

While there can be variances in the amount different lenders pay us we do not favour any particular lender for this reason.

We are also members of NZFSG & Financial Advice New Zealand both of which have ethics that we must adhere to.

We can also be audited at any time by the FMA (Financial Markets Authority)

No… The lenders that use our services see us as an efficient channel to obtain business from. They only pay us on success i.e. when the loan settles.

We sit alongside their other channels such as a bank branch or mobile manager.

The cost of obtaining business from a mortgage broker is comparable to these other channels the banks choose to use.

For this reason, it will cost you no more to use our services.

Mortgage advisers (often called mortgage brokers) are paid by the bank when a mortgage is drawn down.  If that mortgage is discharged (repaid and closed) within a short amount of time – typically 27 months – the broker must repay some or all of the commission (often referred to as a clawback).  In this instance, the mortgage broker has essentially done the work for no pay.

We reserve the right to charge for our time if a clawback is incurred.  The fee will be the estimated amount of hours the mortgage took at an hourly rate of $250 per hour.  Unlike other fees, such as Break Fees from the bank, we have capped the amount we can charge clients at $2,500.

If you are refinancing or selling your house, the best thing to do is immediately talk to your adviser and discuss if any clawback fees will be charged.

If the property is for you to live in, this is something you should discuss with your Lawyer at your initial meeting.  If it will be an Investment Property, you should discuss with your Accountant.  We would also suggest you find a property accountant, someone who deals in property all the time rather than just as a side part of their business.  

Refinancing creates an entirely new mortgage and an opportunity to restructure in a way that better suits your personal situation.

People refinance for lots of personal reasons, from changing circumstances to life goals and interest rates.

People often refinance with us because they want to get ahead faster and take advantage of the smart Go Home Loan structure and personalised support we offer.

The key to an effective loan structure is putting your savings and income into an account that helps reduce the daily interest costs of your mortgage, not a separate unlinked account.

Why? By combining all your income and savings against your Go Home loan, you’re making your money work harder for you.

A Go Home Loan is a much simpler mortgage structure that still uses your income and savings to reduce your daily interest costs.

Generally, banks offset your money from multiple accounts. Some clients find it difficult to track multiple accounts and figure out how much interest is being charged or offset.

We find that using a Go Home Loan is an effective loan structure by putting your savings and income into an account that helps reduce your daily interest costs.

As soon as you have decided to look for a property, the earlier the better.  We recommend a good, early, communication plan with your entire team including your Mortgage Broker, Accountant, and Lawyer/Solicitor