Interest rates could fall by the end of the year, major lender predicts
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Interest rates could fall by the end of the year, major lender predicts

There’s good news on the horizon for stretched mortgage holders ahead of April RBA meeting

By KANEBRIDGE NEWS
Mon, Apr 3, 2023 9:09amGrey Clock 2 min

Mortgage payments could ease as soon as the end of 2023, according to predictions by Australia’s largest mortgage holder.

Economists at the Commonwealth Bank expect rates to peak at 3.85 percent (0.25 percent above current levels) in May before easing off towards the end of the year. This comes ahead of tomorrow’s meeting of the Reserve Bank of Australia board, which is widely tipped to keep rates on hold for the first time in 10 months.

While the other three major banks – Westpac, ANZ and NAB – are all suggesting rates will not begin to fall until 2024, the CBA and NAB have made the most accurate predictions over the past six months.

Westpac predicts interest rates will peak at 3.85 percent in May, while NAB and ANZ expect two more possible rate rises in May and June, bringing interest rates to a peak of 4.1 percent.

The RBA has been using rises in the cash rate to drive down inflation, which has fallen from a peak of 8.4 percent in December 2022 to 6.8 percent in February, further strengthening the possibility of a pause. 

Property data provider CoreLogic has just released its Home Value Index, revealing national home values increased by 0.6 percent in March, the first month-on-month rise since April 2022. Research director at CoreLogic, Tim Lawless, said low stock levels, tight rental conditions and greater demand from overseas migration were the most likely causes.

“Although interest rates are high and there is an expectation the economy will slow through the year, it’s clear other factors are now placing upwards pressure on home prices,” Mr Lawless said.

“Advertised supply has been below average since September last year, with capital city listing numbers ending March almost -20 percent below the previous five-year average.  Purchasing activity has also fallen but not as much as available supply; capital city sales activity was estimated to be roughly -7 percent below the previous five-year average through the March quarter.

“With rental markets this tight, it’s likely we are seeing some spillover from renting into purchasing, although, with mortgage rates so high, not everyone who wants to buy will be able to qualify for a loan.  Similarly, with net overseas migration at record levels and rising, there is a chance more permanent or long-term migrants who can afford to, will skip the rental phase and fast track a home purchase simply because they can’t find rental accommodation.”



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Hong Kong Takes Drastic Action to Avert Property Slump

The city’s real-estate market has been hurt by high interest rates and mainland China’s economic slowdown

By ELAINE YU
Fri, Mar 1, 2024 3 min

Hong Kong has taken a bold step to ease a real-estate slump, scrapping a series of property taxes in an effort to turn around a market that is often seen as a proxy for the city’s beleaguered economy.

The government has removed longstanding property taxes that were imposed on nonpermanent residents, those buying a second home, or people reselling a property within two years after buying, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in his annual budget speech on Wednesday.

The move is an attempt to revive a property market that is still one of the most expensive in the world, but that has been badly shaken by social unrest, the fallout of the government’s strict approach to containing Covid-19 and the slowdown of China’s economy . Hong Kong’s high interest rates, which track U.S. rates due to its currency peg,  have increased the pressure .

The decision to ease the tax burden could encourage more buying from people in mainland China, who have been a driving force in Hong Kong’s property market for years. Chinese tycoons, squeezed by problems at home, have  in some cases become forced sellers  of Hong Kong real estate—dealing major damage to the luxury segment.

Hong Kong’s super luxury homes  have lost more than a quarter of their value  since the middle of 2022.

The additional taxes were introduced in a series of announcements starting in 2010, when the government was focused on cooling down soaring home prices that had made Hong Kong one of the world’s least affordable property markets. They are all in the form of stamp duty, a tax imposed on property sales.

“The relevant measures are no longer necessary amidst the current economic and market conditions,” Chan said.

The tax cuts will lead to more buying and support prices in the coming months, said Eddie Kwok, senior director of valuation and advisory services at CBRE Hong Kong, a property consultant. But in the longer term, the market will remain sensitive to the level of interest rates and developers may still need to lower their prices to attract demand thanks to a stockpile of new homes, he said.

Hong Kong’s authorities had already relaxed rules last year to help revive the market, allowing home buyers to pay less upfront when buying certain properties, and cutting by half the taxes for those buying a second property and for home purchases by foreigners. By the end of 2023, the price index for private homes reached a seven-year low, according to Hong Kong’s Rating and Valuation Department.

The city’s monetary authority relaxed mortgage rules further on Wednesday, allowing potential buyers to borrow more for homes valued at around $4 million.

The shares of Hong Kong’s property developers jumped after the announcement, defying a selloff in the wider market. New World Development , Sun Hung Kai Properties and Henderson Land Development were higher in afternoon trading, clawing back some of their losses from a slide in their stock prices this year.

The city’s budget deficit will widen to about $13 billion in the coming fiscal year, which starts on April 1. That is larger than expected, Chan said. Revenues from land sales and leases, an important source of government income, will fall to about $2.5 billion, about $8.4 billion lower than the original estimate and far lower than the previous year, according to Chan.

The sweeping property measures are part of broader plans by Hong Kong’s government to prop up the city amid competition from Singapore and elsewhere. Stringent pandemic controls and anxieties about Beijing’s political crackdown led to  an exodus of local residents and foreigners  from the Asian financial centre.

But tens of thousands of Chinese nationals have arrived in the past year, the result of Hong Kong  rolling out new visa rules aimed at luring talent in 2022.

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