Interest rates play a critical role in the property market in Australia. When interest rates rise, property prices tend to fall, while lower interest rates often lead to increased demand and higher property prices. Therefore, it's essential for property purchasers to understand the indicators that can help them predict when interest rates will fall. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the key indicators that you should be looking at.
Current state of interest rates in Australia
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is responsible for setting the official cash rate, which influences the interest rates charged by banks and other lenders. As of February 2023, the official cash rate is 3.35%, which is higher than it has been in recent years. The reason for this high official cash rate is that inflation has exceeded the RBA inflation target band. The RBA has increased interest rates to curb inflation and maintain economic stability.
Factors that affect interest rates in Australia
Several factors influence interest rates in Australia, including economic growth, inflation, employment rates, government policies, and global events. Let's look at each of these factors in more detail:
1. Economic growth
Economic growth is the primary driver of interest rates in Australia. When the economy is strong and growing, interest rates tend to rise to prevent the economy from overheating. Conversely, when economic growth is slow, interest rates tend to fall to stimulate the economy.
Inflation is another critical factor that influences interest rates in Australia. The RBA's primary objective is to keep inflation between 2-3%, and interest rates are adjusted to ensure that inflation remains within this range. Inflation occurs when the price of goods and services increases, reducing the value of money over time.
3. Employment rates
Employment rates also affect interest rates. When unemployment is high, interest rates tend to fall to encourage borrowing and spending, while low unemployment can lead to higher interest rates.
4. Global events
Finally, global events such as natural disasters, geopolitical events, and financial crises can also impact interest rates in Australia. When global economic conditions are unstable, the RBA may adjust interest rates to maintain economic stability. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a global economic downturn, and the RBA lowered interest rates to stimulate the economy and support households and businesses.
Indicators that interest rates will peak in mid-2023
Now let's look at some of the key indicators that are used to predict the future path of interest rates.
1. Market pricing
Historically, the most reliable forecasts for the RBA cash rate have come from market-based indicators. The key indicators that are used to understand the future path of interest rates are:
Overnight index swap (OIS): OIS is a type of interest rate swap. An interest rate swap is a financial contract in which two parties agree to exchange cash flows based on different interest rates. The purpose of OIS is to allow parties to hedge or speculate on changes in short-term interest rates, which can affect the value of financial instruments such as bonds, swaps, and other derivatives. OIS rates are widely used as a benchmark for pricing other financial instruments and are also used by central banks to manage monetary policy.
Yield curve: The yield curve is a graph that plots the yields of bonds with different maturities. It can provide insight into market expectations of future interest rates. For example, an inverted yield curve (where short-term yields are higher than long-term yields) may signal that the market expects interest rates to fall in the future.
2. Economist forecasts
Economist forecasts can be a valuable tool for property investors who are trying to predict the future path of interest rates. Economists use a variety of economic indicators, such as GDP growth, inflation rates, and employment data, to make predictions about future interest rate trends. By monitoring these forecasts, property investors can gain insights into the direction of interest rates, which can help them make more informed investment decisions.
Combining both market pricing and economist forecasts, the chart below from the RBA shows that the cash rate is expected to peak by June this year.
Predicting when interest rates will fall can be challenging, but by understanding the key indicators, you can make more informed decisions about when to purchase property. Remember that interest rates are just one factor that can affect the property market, and it's essential to consider other factors such as supply and demand, location, and property type when making a purchasing decision. By reading the latest research and staying informed about the state of the economy and monitoring key indicators, you can increase your chances of making a successful property purchase.