Home loan costs in focus: will the RBA hike the cash rate in June 2022?

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After the Reserve Bank of Australia’s cash rate hike this May, many experts are bracing for another potential move in June. So how likely is another rise? How high will it climb? And how may banks respond?

Let’s dive in.

What’s the likelihood of a June rate hike?

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May's 0.25% rate rise wasn’t unexpected – but it did come a little earlier than most predicted. It also marked the first time since November 2010 the RBA had lifted the official cash rate, making it a new experience for the millions of borrowers who’ve never experienced a cash rate above 0.1%.

Those with a home loan have already felt the effects, with all Big Four and many other Australian banks pushing up variable interest rates on their products by 25 basis points. Already, the average variable interest rate in the Mozo database for owner-occupiers making 'principal and interest' repayments has climbed from 3.03% back in April to 3.22%. 

Fixed rate home loans have also been similarly soaring amid the cash rate uncertainty. “Over time, fixed rates tend to point to where variable rates are going,” says Mozo expert spokesperson Peter Marshall. “It suggests a lot of lenders out there are betting on more cash rate increases to come.”

RELATED: Handling RBA rate talk: Are interest rate increases something to worry about?

The RBA board made their latest decision due in large part to worryingly high economic inflation, since the cash rate acts as a handbrake against runaway prices. By lifting official interest rates, the RBA essentially encourages consumers to conserve their money in banks rather than spend.

“The Board is committed to doing what is necessary to ensure that inflation in Australia returns to target over time,” explained RBA Governor Philip Lowe in the board’s official statement. “I expect that further increases in interest rates will be necessary over the months ahead.”

Given ongoing inflationary pressures, the RBA has plenty of incentive to make another move this June. Ultimately, the question may be less “will they, won’t they” and more “by how much?”

How high will interest rates go this time?

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Experts forecast an official interest rate hike in June of at least 25 basis points, which would leave the official cash rate sitting at 0.60%. However, AMP and Westpac predict one as high as 40 bp. Westpac cites this as their preferred outcome, since this would drive the cash rate up to 0.75% – a number on par with pre-pandemic levels.

Lenders have been keen on a return to pre-pandemic rates for some time. The RBA alluded to this in their last board statement, explaining that since the economy has proved surprisingly resilient to COVID-19, it was high time to start “normalising monetary conditions.”

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Any chance of no rate hike, or a rate cut?

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Unfortunately for mortgage holders, the chances of the RBA announcing no rate hike at all are quite slim – but not impossible. 

Marshall reckons there’s an argument to be made that the RBA won’t move, since wages haven’t kept pace with inflation at all. Disparity between wages and price growth has been one of the major factors driving up the cost of living, since a 2.4% uptick in salaries over the past year just doesn’t offset a 5.1% consumer price surge.

But the new Labor government’s support for boosting the minimum wage may incentivise the RBA to move now rather than later.

RELATED: How to manage higher mortgage repayments

While it’s highly unlikely the RBA will announce a rate cut in June (like the cuts made in 2020), one may loom further down the road if the economy heads into a recession. 

“I still see clear recessionary risks in the next 12 months,” cautions Marshall, “which will put a halt to cash rate increases. They can’t keep hiking rates if we’re going into a recession.” 

However, with the rest of the world gripped in throes of inflation, the RBA may still feel like it has no choice but to lift rates. 

How will banks respond to a June RBA cash rate hike?

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After the May decision, most banks were swift to pass on the rate hike to home loan customers. If the RBA were to make a similar move this June, customers may continue to face higher interest on their mortgages. 

“There’s no way lenders will go for less than whatever the RBA cash rate increase turns out to be,” explains Marshall. “The vast majority will go for the full rate rise as they seek to rebuild their net interest margins.” 

Only a few lenders passed on part of the May increase, and they tended to be small mutuals and non-banks. For people hoping to refinance, comparing the smaller options may key to finding the most competitive interest rates.

RELATED: What do higher interest rates mean for property prices?

What will another rate rise mean for home loan borrowers?

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How should borrowers handle the rate rises? And should hopeful buyers avoid impending variable rate hikes by fixing their home loans now?

“I can’t recommend fixed rates anymore as the good ones have dried up,” warns Marshall. “If you do have extra funds, even for a short period, an offset account is worthwhile. Putting every bit of money you can in there, for as long as you can have it there, makes a difference.”

Marshall also recommends using this critical time to repay as much of your principal as possible. “Everything you can pay down now will save you interest in the future.”

Stay on top of rate movements with Mozo’s new interest rate tracker. You can also see how rate changes affect your mortgage repayments with our rate change calculator.

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