Interest rate remains unchanged heading towards the festive season




23 November 2023

Today’s Monetary Policy Committee announcement of zero change to the current interest rate has property owners around the country breathing a collective sigh of relief. 

“Pegging interest rates at their current levels is definitely a step in the right direction for the property market right now,” says Leonard Kondowe, Finance Manager for Rawson Property Finance. Leonard-1

Stats SA’s latest figures show that inflation had already begun increasing in September, rising to 5.4%, up from 4.8% in August and 4.7% in July. This was largely attributed to escalating fuel prices. Those fuel prices received a sizeable reduction as of 1 November, however.

“The drop in fuel prices makes a real difference, but it’s impossible to guess how long it’ll last, or whether its effects will be enough to stem the rising tide of inflation,” says Kondowe. “Many economists predicted that the MPC will have to resort to increasing the interest rate again this month to control this risk.  Personally, I was glad that they decided to keep the rate the same for now, and adjust if necessary in the new year.”

Should the interest rate go up in future, Kondowe says property along with other markets will feel the pinch. There are already huge numbers of homeowners struggling to make ends meet, and any further interest rate increases will only exacerbate those issues,” Kondowe says. “The distressed property market is busier than ever, but the lack of affordability means the pool of qualified buyers is also very small. Anything that erodes affordability – whether that’s fuel price hikes, cost of living expenses or interest rates – is going to chip away at that pool even more.” Silver linings include the facy that lenders are increasingly hungry to secure qualified bond applicants, leading to a very competitive lending market.

“Lenders are definitely bringing their A-game when it comes to winning over bond applicants,” says Kondowe. “That’s not to say they’re being lenient on qualifying conditions – those are still as strict as ever – but for applicants with a strong financial history and good affordability, there are some very favourable finance opportunities out there.” Common techniques used by lenders to “sweeten the pot” for bond applicants include offering preferential interest rates to those willing to move their primary bank account to the same brand.

“Lenders seem to be taking a ‘bigger picture’ approach to property finance,” says Kondowe, “using it as a way to secure long-term customers across a much wider range of banking products. Understanding this trend can be useful when it comes to negotiating mortgage offers.”

As for what consumers can do to improve their financial resilience, Kondowe says the key is to curb unnecessary spending and reduce debt.

“This time of year is always difficult,” he says, “but if you’re one of the lucky ones getting an end-of-year bonus, the very best thing you can do with it is pay off any small debts you have hanging around. Even if it’s just one store account, one credit card, one lay-by – the fewer expenses you have eating away at your monthly income, the more resilient your financial situation will be

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Leonard Kondowe

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