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Considerations Before Fixing Your Interest Rate: Should I Fix My Home Loan?

Things to consider before fixing your interest rate: An article discussing the pros and cons of fixed vs variable interest rates, the importance of timing your decision, managing interest rate risk, and considerations before fixing your rate, as well as choosing the right duration for optimal protection and stability.

5 minute read

Fixing Your Interest Rate

Understand Fixed and Variable Rates

When considering a home loan, it's crucial to understand the key differences between fixed and variable interest rates. Fixed rates offer financial certainty and consistent repayments over a set period, providing stability and predictability for homeowners. On the other hand, variable rates offer flexibility and the potential to benefit from interest rate decreases, allowing borrowers to take advantage of changing market conditions.

Pros and Cons of Fixing Your Interest Rate

There are several pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to fix your interest rate on a home loan or when refinancing. The benefits of fixed rates include budget predictability, protection against rate increases, and easier financial planning, which is particularly advantageous for first-home buyers. However, drawbacks of fixed rates include limitations on additional repayments, penalties for overpayment, and the absence of features like offset accounts. It's important to weigh these factors carefully to determine the most suitable option based on individual financial circumstances and goals, including choosing between a fixed rate and variable rate.

Timing Your Decision to Fix Interest Rates

Timing plays a crucial role in the decision to fix interest rates. It's essential to consider predictions for interest rates, particularly anticipating when they are expected to peak and then decline. Additionally, current market conditions, such as the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) rate increases, can influence the optimal timing for fixing interest rates. Understanding and analysing these factors can help borrowers make informed decisions about when to lock in their interest rates for a home loan.

Choosing the Right Duration for Your Fixed Rate

Choosing the right duration for a fixed rate is important for optimal interest-rate protection and stability. Advice suggests fixing home loan rates for a period of three to five years, providing a balance between protection and flexibility. It's cautioned against fixing for less than two years or more than five years to ensure flexibility and avoid potential downsides associated with longer or shorter fixed-rate terms.

Considerations Before Fixing Your Interest Rate

Before fixing the interest rate on your home loan, it's essential to consider potential drawbacks such as break costs and their impact when ending a fixed-rate term early. Comparing current variable rates with new fixed rates is also crucial for making an informed decision. Homeowners planning to sell or access equity soon should carefully evaluate the potential limitations of fixed rates to ensure it aligns with their future plans and financial objectives.

Managing Interest Rate Risk

Managing interest rate risk is a significant consideration when deciding whether to fix interest rates. We recommend to clients several strategies for mitigating the risk of a fixed rate, this includes not fixing 100% of your home loan, giving you the ability to make additional repayments on a small percentage of your home loan and fixing in a majority of your home loan.

 

For example, we tend to recommend that homeowners fix ~80% of their home loan for up to 3 years and really concentrate on paying off the variable home loan within that fixed period.

 

Additionally, the role of a fixed-rate lock fee in securing a rate at the time of application should be taken into account, as it can impact the overall cost and benefits of fixing interest rates.

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