Why Are Interest Rates So Volatile Right Now?

The Reserve Bank has been very clear on its stance that they do not expect the OCR to drop until late 2025.Interest Rates

Up until a few weeks ago, most economists were predicting otherwise. Some had forecasted as many as four rate cuts this year.

Then suddenly, ANZ is warning that the OCR could actually go up in the first review of 2024.

While it is currently the only bank speaking of this potential, it is an about-face from the predictions we were hearing last year.

So, what has caused this change in opinion?

The Reserve Bank has indicated that the main reason that the OCR remains high (and could go higher still) is due to stubbornly resistant inflation.

Despite some promising signs like weaker GDP data appearing and wholesale swap rates dropping at the end of 2023, the market has since reversed.

Because of that, predictions have changed.

Will The OCR Go Up or Down?

The Reserve Bank is due to make an announcement on the OCR this week.

ANZ is standing firm on the possibility that it could increase 25 basis points and rise to 5.75%.

All other major banks are predicting that it will remain constant at 5.5%, the level it has sat at since May 2023.

However, they have not ruled out the possibility of an increase.

What they are all in agreeance on is that the OCR is not ready to go down… yet.

This volatility is very common in a market that is about to change.

There are signs that the Reserve Bank’s efforts are working.

Inflation is tracking down, albeit slower than they would hope.

Employment rates are also easing, but again, slower than the Reserve Bank would like.

The economy is shrinking, but migration rates remain high bringing much-needed skills to NZ and making it easier for businesses to hire the talent they need.

Great for the businesses, but not so great for the employment figures that impact the Reserve Bank’s decisions!

All of this indicates that things are heading in the right direction, but are they heading there fast enough to maintain the OCR at 5.5%?

Only the Reserve Bank can decide that.

What Does It Mean For New Zealanders?

Everyone is starting to feel the pinch on their household budget.

Rising interest rates and living costs are putting pressure on lots of NZ households.

Unfortunately, that pain is not over yet and may even get worse before it gets better.

There is always a lag in changes to monetary policy and the resulting effects on everyday households.

The OCR has been high for a long time now.

Back in September 2021, the average interest rate on mortgage debt was 2.8%.

Right now, it is sitting at 5.9% and is expected to rise to 6.3% in the next 6 months as homeowners continue to roll off their fixed rates set two and three years ago.

Relief from these rates is still a way off.

While current monetary policy is working, it is happening much slower than expected.

For that reason, the Reserve Bank is hesitant to make changes too soon and undo the work that has been done so far.

They do not want to cut the OCR now only to have to raise it much higher in the future because of cutting too soon.

The best thing to do right now is to sit tight and try to weather the storm.

Change is coming, we just don’t know exactly when it will be.

What’s The Plan?

In this particularly volatile period of finances, we urge you not to rush into any decisions.

Change is coming, so making sensible decisions now is paramount.

Longer-term interest rates may look attractive now, but you do not want to be fixed at a high rate for multiple years if change is on the horizon.

While we can’t predict exactly when interest rate cuts will happen, we know they are coming.

In the meantime, we can offer our best guidance based on a number of factors.

So, whether your interest rates are due to come up for renewal or you are considering buying or selling, now is a time when you want expert financial advice.

Chat with a trusted mortgage advisor, so that you can make the best move for your circumstances in the current volatile market.

Until next time,


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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