By Lloyd Edge
The result of Saturday’s election saw Australia usher in a Labor government for the first time in almost a decade. It’s clear Labor has big plans to shake up current policies, and this will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the lives of everyday Aussies.
One area where we’re set to see a significant shift is the minimum wage, with Labor planning to increase it by 5.1%.
While at first this might seem like a good thing, the additional pressure on business owners may lead to higher unemployment rates if the economy enters a recession. Higher unemployment would in-turn lead to higher inflation, and faster interest rate hikes.
So, what does this mean for homeowners and people seeking to buy a home sometime in the near future?
The key is to be prepared, assess your financial position now and take critical steps so you’re not caught off guard down the track.
As I always say- it all comes down to strategy.
I began my own property journey at the age of 28 when I bought a one-bedroom flat on a schoolteacher’s income of no more than $70,000 per year. Since then, I’ve built up my property portfolio to 18 properties worth $15 million.
My success is proof that with hard work, perseverance and the right strategy, anything is possible.
Here are five things I recommend all homeowners, or home buyers, do right now to be prepared for faster interest rate hikes under Labor:
- Borrow under your maximum capacity: This one’s for all the first home buyers out there- always make sure you borrow under your maximum. This will ensure that you have a buffer, and when interest rates rise again (which they’re likely to sooner rather than later) you will still be able to comfortably afford the repayments. It’s important to ensure that you don’t end up in a position to be a distressed seller.
- Use an offset account: Although it may seem tempting to lock in a fixed rate on your home loan before rates go up even further, remember, you can never beat the banks at their own game, and they’ll always know more about upcoming interest rate hikes than you do. Getting a variable rate loan and using an offset account is a great way to significantly lower your interest repayments. You should put any savings or spare cash you have into the offset account, as your money will also be growing at whatever your current interest rate is set at.
- Have a cash buffer: Further to my two points above, you should always ensure that you have some sort of cash buffer handy. Saving money is a good habit to get into, and you’ll be very glad you took steps to reduce your weekly or monthly spending when the interest rates go up and you need to increase your mortgage repayments.
- Consider buying in regional areas: This is a strategy I discuss in my new book, Buy Now. Instead of buying in a capital city like Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane, where you are more likely to take on a huge amount of debt and be in financial trouble when interest rates go up, consider purchasing a positively geared (or better yet, cash-flow positive) investment property in a regional area. Properties prices in regional areas are more stable, and don’t see the same booms and busts as the capital cities. The likelihood for a higher rental yield will mean that your mortgage repayments will always be covered.
- Refinance your existing loan: Do you currently own a home, but aren’t happy with the interest rate your bank is providing? Why not switch it up and refinance your loan with a new bank. Banks generally tend to offer only new clients their best deals, as an incentive to draw new customers in. I recommend shopping around with a few different banks until you find the loan and interest rate that’s right for you- an experienced mortgage broker can help you with this.
If you’re still concerned about how faster rate hikes will affect you or your family’s finances, you should consider speaking with your accountant or a financial adviser regarding your specific circumstances, and what might be best in your scenario.
I like the phrase “no one ever got ahead by waiting” and it’s true- the more actions you take to prepare now, the better off you’re likely to be down the track.
About Lloyd Edge
Lloyd Edge, Director and Founder of Aus Property Professionals, is a buyer’s agent, property strategist, and author of best-selling book Positively Geared. His new book, Buy Now, is the ultimate guide to owning and investing in property.
Lloyd was a finalist in the 2021 Real Estate Business Awards for Buyer’s Agent of the Year and Aus Property Professionals was awarded Property Strategist of the Year for 2022 by APAC, Australian Enterprise Awards.