Complacent mortgage holders stung by higher rates

Borrowers who didn't look around for a better mortgage deal may be paying hundreds more per month.

Borrowers who didn't look around for a better mortgage deal may be paying hundreds more per month. Photo: AAP

Rapid interest rate rises have spurred a refinancing boom but many borrowers are still paying the price for their complacency.

Almost a quarter of all borrowers are paying 6.5 per cent or more on their variable rate loans, based on Canstar modelling, which is 1.81 per cent higher than the cheapest loan rate.

For these mortgage holders, the failure to shop around for a better deal will add $570 or more each month to a standard $500,000 loan over 30 years.

Canstar’s finance expert Steve Mickenbecker said there were 57 variable rate loans available with rates under five per cent.

“And while refinancing to the lowest rate loan in the market may not always be possible, there’s still a wide range of loans offering big savings,” Mr Mickenbecker said.

Since May last year, the Reserve Bank has lifted the official cash rate by 3.5 percentage points from the record low level of 0.1 per cent, pushing up monthly repayments for mortgage holders.

New data on advertised salaries should reassure the RBA that wages are unlikely to grow out of control and keep excessive pressure on inflation, building the case for a pause sooner rather than later.

SEEK’s advertised salary index revealed plateauing growth in pay packets offered to new hires in February.

The index, which measures the change in the advertised salaries on the platform’s job postings over time, recorded a 0.3 per cent lift over the month, and 0.8 per cent growth over the quarter.

On an annual basis, advertised salaries on the jobs marketplace lifted 4.5 per cent.

SEEK senior economist Matt Cowgill said average advertised salary growth was flattening out.

“The fact that advertised salary growth is not accelerating will reassure policymakers that we are not in a wage-price spiral,” he added.

But with advertised salaries falling well behind inflation, Mr Cowgill said workers would be struggling to make ends meet.

Despite cost of living pressures, growth in online retail sales accelerated in February.

NAB’s monthly index returned 1.3 per cent growth in February, following a 0.6 per cent uptick in January.

NAB chief economist Alan Oster said the return to monthly growth in online sales did not align with broader sales data, which was starting to track sideways.

On an annual basis, he said there was a milder contraction in February, which is a trend he expects to continue as elevated online spending habits sparked by COVID stop skewing the year-on-year result.

He said the largest category, homewares and appliances, continued to contract in year-on-year terms, and the share of categories such as takeaway food, games and toys, and media, grew as a share of the index.

“However, recent results in year-on-year change for takeaway food, and media, appear to be slowing from elevated levels,” Mr Oster said.

“Given the latest result for these categories, and pressure placed on discretionary categories, we will continue to monitor to see if these trends continue.”


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