RBA Low Rates Remain Despite Surging House Prices

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Despite surging house prices, the Reserve Bank will continue to keep interest rates steady.

At its April monetary policy meeting earlier today, the central bank elected to keep the cash rate at 0.10%, where it has stood since Melbourne Cup Day in November last year.

Catch-up on last month: RBA low cash rate remains, but for how long?

The hold was despite talk that the RBA may be forced to act to address raising house prices.

Speaking at the Australian Financial Review Business Summit in early March, RBA Governor Dr Philip Lowe reaffirmed the central bank’s stance on monetary policy and house prices, and when it expects interest rates to rise.

“I would like to reiterate that the RBA does not target housing prices, nor would it make sense to do so,” Dr Lowe said.

“I recognise that low interest rates are one of the factors contributing to higher housing prices and that high and rising housing prices raise concerns for many people. There are various tools, other than higher interest rates, to address these concerns, leaving monetary policy to maintain its strong focus on the recovery in the economy, jobs and wages.”

Dr Lowe said that despite climbing property prices, the cash rate is likely to remain low until 2024 since it is unlikely that wage growth will reach greater than 3% before that time.

“Predicting how long [wage growth] will take is inherently difficult, so there is room for different views. But our judgement is that we are unlikely to see wages growth consistent with the inflation target before 2024,” he said.

“This is the basis for our assessment that the cash rate is very likely to remain at its current level until at least 2024.”

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You might also like: Fixed or Variable Interest Rate: Which is right for you?

Fixed-rate lending popular as low rates continue

Lenders are continuing to offer record low interest rates but evidence suggests that long-term, they may be preparing for hikes.

In March, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac all introduced further interest rate cuts, lowering their two-year fixed rate offerings to below 2%.

Westpac was first, dropping its two-year fixed rate home loan to 1.79% p.a. NAB followed, reducing its product to 1.89% p.a. (down from 2.04% p.a.).

CBA was last, lowering its two-year fixed rate wealth package home loan to 1.94% p.a.

But though short-term fixed rates are having their time in the sun, lenders are slowly increasing interest rates on longer fixed-rate terms.

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While CBA lowered its short-term rate, it took the opportunity to raise its four-year fixed rate by 0.2 points to 2.19% p.a. The bank cited higher funding costs as its reason for the rise.

The Bank of Queensland, Bendigo Bank and Adelaide Bank also increased four-year rates during the month.

NAB chief economist Alan Oster said while he expects the pricing of two-year loans to remain aggressive, a rise in bond yields this year would likely drive up long-term fixed rates.

“There’s been quite a big blowout in four and five year pricing. My guess would be that the price of four and five-year [loans] would eventually go up,” Mr Oster said.

Recently, the popularity of fixed-rate mortgages has surged. In the past, Australians have opted for variable-rate home loans, with about 15% of new home loans being fixed.

Since mid-2020, this proportion has jumped to 40%.

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JobKeeper End Fuels Economic Speculation

A year on from its establishment on 30 March last year, last week the JobKeeper wage subsidy came to an end. It is still unknown how its conclusion will impact unemployment.

Secretary to the Treasury, Dr Steven Kennedy believes it could prompt a brief rise in unemployment.

During his opening statement to the Economics Legislation Committee in March, Dr Kennedy told senators that the end of JobKeeper could prompt 100,000 to 150,000 recipients losing employment.

However, he also said that he believed the adjustment would be manageable, and that on a whole, unemployment is likely to keep falling.

“Our view is that the adjustment away from JobKeeper will be manageable, and that employment will continue to increase over the course of this year, although the unemployment rate could rise a little over coming months before resuming its downward trajectory.”

Currently, the unemployment rate is at 5.8% after dropping -0.5 points since January.

Words by Kathryn Lee

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Are you on the lookout to save more on your home loan? Take advantage of low rates. Contact eChoice to help you work out your home loan options.

The current low interest-rate environment has stocked the fire of first homebuyers around the nation. With low rates anticipated to stay for at least the next three years, piggy banks are being shaken and budget plans drawn as buyers attempt to gather the deposit needed to secure their property dreams.

Out in full force, first home buyer activity is high. December 2020 saw the number of first home buyer loan commitments soar, rising by 9.3% to 15,205 (seasonally adjusted), according to the Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Representing a 56.6% rise since December 2019, it’s the highest level of first home buyer owner occupier loan commitments since June 2009, when the temporary tripling of the first home owners grant spurred similar activity.

Supported by historically low rates, according to Reserve Bank (RBA) figures the average interest rate on a new owner-occupier variable rate home loan in December 2020 was just 2.80% p.a. To put this figure in perspective, almost 18-months prior in July 2019 the average interest rate for the same loan type was 3.50% p.a.

With interest rates influenced by the cash rate, which now sits at 0.10%, the RBA says it doesn’t anticipate movement in its monetary policy for at least three-years.

“The Board expects that this new lower level of interest rates will be in place for an extended period,” RBA Governor Dr Philip Lowe said in a speech following November’s meeting on monetary policy.

“… the Board is not expecting to increase the cash rate for at least three years. It remains the case that prior to any increase in the cash rate target, the Board intends to remove the three-year yield target.”

But for those still on their saving journey, FOMO (Fear-Of-Missing-Out) can be a real concern. While we can’t promise to make your property ownership dreams come true, we can support you on your way with these 10 tips to help you save for a home deposit.

first home loan deposit scheme

1. Budget

The act of budgeting can be broken up into two parts – the first being creating the budget itself, and the second being sticking to it. Often easier said than done, your commitment to both creating and seeing out a budget plan could make or break your savings goals.

Budget tips:

  • Take note of your income versus your outgoings.
  • Remove unnecessary spending and cutback where you can. For example, this could mean revaluating lifestyle choices such as takeaway coffees and excessive meals out.
  • Define a realistic savings target per month and stick to it.

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2. Investigate high-interest bank accounts

Although they can be scarce nowadays, if you shop around it’s still possible to find savings accounts with interest rates above 1%. While this may not sound like much, depending on the value of savings you have and the length of time you leave it in a high-interest account, this can add up over time.

Hot Tip: Before deciding on a new savings account, be sure to check the fine print. While some accounts may look suitable, there could be conditions you need to meet to be eligible for the high rate. For instance, you may need to deposit a minimum amount each month, make a minimum number of transactions or the account may have a maximum eligible balance.

You might also like: What to do with your savings when interest rates are low

3. Consider investing

If buying a home is still a little way down the road, investing may be a worthwhile consideration. Options differ depending on how much you’re looking to invest and what level of risk you’re willing to take. For example, while some people may prefer to invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which are often cheaper to buy into, others may prefer to invest directly in individual stocks. We recommend seeking professional advice before investing. 

What's my borrowing power if I earn $ per year?

4. Automate your savings

If you struggle with over-spending, setting up an automatic transaction that directs a certain percentage of your pay into your savings account may be worthwhile. Most banks have an online portal to help you set up automatic transactions. Otherwise, your employer may even give you the option to split your salary between multiple accounts, including a dedicated savings account.

Hot Tip: Before setting up an automatic transaction, be sure the amount allocated to savings is sustainable. If not, you may be tempted to ‘dig-in’ from time-to-time, defeating the purpose.

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5. Check what government grants and schemes you could be eligible for

Depending on what state you live in, you may be eligible to benefit from various government grants and schemes for first home buyers.

Possible grants and schemes you might be eligible for:

6. See if a guarantor loan is an option

If you’re well on your way in your savings journey but still don’t have enough saved for a full 20% deposit, a guarantor loan could be an option. This could allow you to buy a home sooner while still avoiding LMI.

It works by having a parent or guardian sign onto your loan. This increases your equity and helps make up for a low deposit in the eyes of the bank. However, it also means that if you were to lapse on repayments, your guarantor would be obligated to step in.

Learn more about whether a guarantor loan could be right for you: How do guarantor loans work?

7. Sort out any debt

Depending on the type and amount of debt you are dealing with, its presence could impact your borrowing power or chances of approval. If you have a lot of debt, it may be beneficial to talk to a financial counsellor.

You might also like: What is a debt consolidation home loan – and how can it help you manage your debts?

8. Turn saving into a game

While some people do well by setting up automatic transactions into a savings account, others need something a little more hands-on. If you want to have some fun while saving, why not turn it into a game of bingo?

To set it up, simply set your savings goal then create a bingo grid, with each square devoted to a bite-sized chunk of your desired total. For example, you could have a goal to save $5000 in 12 months – which could look like a 52-square grid where you cross off one square per week. Alternatively, search “bingo savings challenge printable” for ready-made templates.

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9. Look at the savings features of neobanks

Some neobanks have special features designed to help you save. For example, Up Bank has a feature that will let you round up purchases to the nearest dollar, with the difference automatically diverted to your savings account.

10. See a financial advisor

Everyone has unique circumstances, which is why seeking professional advice can be a great way to refine your savings strategy.

You might also like: Issues to look for when buying an older house

Words by Kathryn Lee


If you’re saving for a home loan deposit, then it’s worth discussing your borrowing power and potential mortgage repayment with an eChoice Home Loan Consultant. We have access to hundreds of products across a panel of multiple lenders, so – once you’re ready to buy – we can help you find a competitive mortgage.

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Housing sales in 2021 are expected to continue to be driven by first home buyers entering the property market, courtesy of government incentives and stimulus packages.

Australia has recorded a ten-year high for first homes buyers in the last quarter, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Lending indicators for October 2020 showed first home buyers leading residential housing market improvements, with the number of owner-occupier first home buyer loan commitments increasing by 3.4% in October – more than 30% higher than in any pre-COVID month since 2009.

“Demand has been supported by historically low interest rates and more government support, such as the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and HomeBuilder,” said NAB Executive, Home Ownership, Andy Kerr.

“A brief pullback in property prices also helped first home buyers as the uncertainty of COVID-19 put many plans on ice, with investor demand slowing noticeably.”

Mr Kerr said NAB’s lending to first home buyers in the three months ending October 31 increased by 21% against the 12-month average, adding that first home buyers represented the only growth in the market during this time.

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What grants and concessions may be available to First Home Buyers?

A one-off government payment, the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) was created to encourage and assist first home buyers to jump onto the property ladder. Managed by each state and territory independently, eligibility criteria and conditions vary between them. Additional Government grants and concessions may also be applied to eligible first home buyers and properties, as follows: 


While not offering an official FHOG, the territory does offer a means-tested full stamp duty concession to all first home buyers on all properties.

New South Wales

NSW offers a $10,000 FHOG to build a new home valued under $750,000 or to purchase a new home less than $600,000 in value. First home buyers may also claim:

  • No stamp duty for homes valued under $650,000, or vacant land under $400,000,
  • Stamp duty reductions on homes up to $800,000, or up to $1 million for new homes and $500,000 for vacant land,
  • No insurance duty on lender’s mortgage insurance.

Eligible first home buyers are required to live in the home for at least six months in the first year of owning it.

You might also like: Your guide to the First Home Owner Grant NSW

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory offers a FHOG of $10,000 for first home buyers purchasing or building a home of any age to eligible applicants.

Buyers may also be eligible for the BuildBonus grant and/or the Territory homeowner discount, which is a stamp duty discount of up to $18,601. 

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In Queensland, the FHOG offers $15,000 for eligible first home buyers who are buying or building a new or substantially renovated home up to the value of $750,000.

Recipients must move in within the first 12 months of owning the property and live there continuously for at least six months.

Regional buyers who purchase by 31 March 2021 may also be eligible for a regional home building grant of $5,000 if the new build is valued at less than $750,000.

You might also like: Your guide to the First Home Owner Grant in QLD

South Australia

South Australia offers a $15,000 grant for new residential homes valued up to $575,000. Recipients are required to live in the property for the first six months at a minimum.

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First home buyers can apply for up to $20,000 for buying or building a new home, and may also be eligible for a 50% stamp duty discount if the property has a dutiable value of $400,000 or less. 

You might also like: Your guide to the First Home Owner Grant in Tasmania

row of houses in tasmania


Victoria offers first home buyers up to $20,000 for building or buying a new home up to five years old in regional Victoria or up to $10,000 for city dwellings to a maximum purchase price of $750,000. First Home Buyers may also be eligible for:

  • Duty exception for new homes and established homes if valued at $600,000 or less,
  • concessions for a principal place of residence (PPR) with a dutiable value between $600,001 and $750,000,
  • PPR concessions for new or established primary residence homes valued up to $550,000,
  • From 25 November 2020 to 1 July 2021, residential homes in Victoria valued at up to $1 million are also eligible for a 50% duty concession, regardless of primary residence status,
  • a duty concession or exemption on a property valued at up to $200,000 for families with at least one dependent child under 18 years of age,
  • An off-the-plan duty concession.

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Western Australia

Western Australia offers a FHOG of up to $10,000 for buying or building a new home for residences with a total value of $750,000 south of the 26th parallel (including all of the Perth metropolitan area) or up to $1 million north of the 26th parallel. First home buyers may also be eligible for:

  • Stamp duty exemption where the first home is valued at up to $430,000, and a concession if it is valued at up to $530,000.
  • Home Buyers Assistance Account – a grant of up to $2,000 to cover the incidental expenses of purchasing an established or partially built home, for properties with a purchase price of up to $400,000.

You might also like: Your guide to Perth’s property market

What is the HomeBuilder grant and can first home buyers use it?

The HomeBuilder grant provides eligible owner-occupiers with a grant to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home. This includes first home buyers, who may also be eligible to combine it with other incentives and schemes, however, do check carefully as there may be exclusions.

The Homebuilder program was set to end in 2020, however, it has been extended to 31 March 2021. Key changes to the programs, now in effect include:

  • A $15,000 grant for building contracts (new builds and substantial renovations) signed between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2021, inclusive.
  • An extended deadline for all applications to be submitted, including those applying for the $25,000 grant and the new $15,000 grant. Applications can now be submitted up until 14 April 2021 (inclusive). This will apply to all eligible contracts signed on or after 4 June 2020.
  • An extension to the construction commencement timeframe from three months to six months for all HomeBuilder applicants. This will apply to all eligible contracts signed on or after 4 June 2020.
  • An increase to the property price cap for new build contracts in New South Wales and Victoria to $950,000 and $850,000, respectively, where the contract is signed between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2021, inclusive.
    • The existing new build property price cap of $750,000 will continue to apply in all other States and Territories.
  • A change in licensing requirements and registration for builders, as below:
    • Where an eligible contract is signed on or after 29 November 2020, the builder must have a valid licence or registration before 29 November 2020.
    • Where an eligible contract is signed before 29 November 2020, the builder must have a valid licence or registration before 4 June 2020.

Other than the above, existing program criteria applies. For all new build contracts signed between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2021:

  • Eligible owner-occupier purchasers will receive a $15,000 grant; and
  • The property price caps for new builds in New South Wales and Victoria will be increased to $950,000 and $850,000 respectively.

In addition, the construction commencement deadline has now been extended from three months to six months for all eligible contracts signed on or after 4 June 2020.

Aerial view of housing development and construction in a newly established suburb in the area of Ginninderry in Canberra ACT Australia

Where are first home buyers buying?

NAB data from December 2020 revealed regional areas and outer suburbs are most in-demand among first-time buyers, as commute times become less of a factor in choosing a home location for many Australians. By state (or territory), first home buyers are snapping up homes in:


  • Greater Sydney: Abbotsbury +157%, Newington +70% and Penrith +68%.
  • Outside Sydney: Ballina +148%, Port Macquarie +143%, Wyong (Central Coast) +111%, and Wallsend (Newcastle) +65%.

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  • West of Melbourne CBD: Armstrong Creek +97%, Waurn Ponds & Belmont +56%, Melton South +38%, Tarneit & Hoppers Crossing +22%.
  • East of Melbourne CBD: Chelsea and Edithvale +60%, Dandenong +50%, Noble Park +32%, Clyde +32%, Pakenham +27%, and Cranbourne +23%

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  • South-east: Browns Plains (Logan City) +106%, North Lakes (Brisbane) +99%, Coomera (Gold Coast) +94%, Central Ipswich +93%, and Greater Springfield (Ipswich) +67%.
  • North and west: Mount Isa +115%, and Hervey Range and Bohle Plains (Townsville) +64%.

You might also like: Your guide to the Brisbane property market and house prices


  • Perth: Nollamara & Mirrabooka +107%, Huntingdale +91%, Morley +78%, Cannington +63%, and Armadale +63%.
  • Regional: Geraldton +117% and Kalgoorlie +62%.

You might also like: Your guide to Perth’s most popular suburbs


  • Adelaide: Salisbury +68%, Clearview and Enfield +52%, Oakden and Hillcrest +51%.

You might also like: Your guide to Adelaide’s property market

Words by Melanie Hearse


You don’t need to leave your house to get an eChoice home loan consultation. As always, we will discuss your options over the phone – we’re here to make your home loan journey easier.

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NSW is considering an innovative tax reform that will see home buyers given the choice to pay either stamp duty and land tax (where applicable) or a smaller annual property tax. Here’s what you need to know.

Labelling stamp duty the biggest barrier to home ownership in Australia, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet recently unveiled his Government’s plan to scrap the duty in favour of an annual land tax for all new property transactions.

Under the current system, homebuyers pay stamp duty every time they purchase a property. This means that people who move frequently pay stamp duty many times over, while those who stay put do not. This system could conceivably prevent people from buying a new home that better serves their needs or climbing the property ladder. For first home buyers, the upfront fee can be a barrier to getting onto the said ladder in the first place.

The proposed plan, which is currently out for public consultation, will be the state’s biggest tax reform in decades. The move is tipped to boost the economy to the tune of up to $11 billion over four years and pump up the NSW Gross State Product by 1.7% over the long term. And for those looking to buy property – including first home buyers, the proposed model could provide tens of thousands of dollars of relief.

Stamp duty in NSW is currently approximately 4%. Based on Sydney’s median house price of $1,154,406, buyers currently pay approximately $46,176 to the Government. The proposed scheme would allow home buyers to instead pay an annual tax based on the value of their land.

“This is the single most important economic reform we can tackle to turn the Australian dream into NSW’s reality,” Mr Perrottet said.

You might also like: NSW government slashes stamp duty for first home buyers

The key features of the proposed property tax rollout

The consultation process, which is open until 15 March 2021, invites New South Wales residents to have their say on the proposed model which features:

  • Giving home buyers the choice between paying stamp duty upfront or opting for the smaller annual property tax when purchasing a property. Allowing people who opt-in to the system to also eliminate any land tax liability;
  • No effect for current property owners who are not buying or selling property; 
  • A new grant for first home buyers to replace current stamp duty concessions; 
  • A property tax rate designed to support and incentivise home ownership with a lower rate for owner-occupiers and higher rates for investors and commercial properties.

The reform could be in play as soon as the second half of 2021 following the community consultation.  

“The NSW Government will work with people and communities to shape any reform over the coming months to ensure it is tailor-made for the current and future needs of our State,” Mr Perrottet said.

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Are you looking to purchase a property or refinance?

The fine print

The first thing to note is the proposed plan will be optional and you will be able to choose to pay the new annual property tax, or you may purchase your home under the old system. If you are not buying a home, the changes do not apply; you will not pay an annual tax on property you’ve already paid stamp duty and land tax on.  

For some, the proposed changes won’t mean a saving – if, for example, you are not planning on selling for a long period of time, you do not have to opt-in. As always, if you are unsure about how the various choices will impact you and your situation, seeking expert financial advice is recommended.

Also note that once a property has been purchased under the proposed property tax reform, under the current proposal, all subsequent buyers of that property would be tied to this arrangement. 

You might also like: Stamp Duty Calculator

Why overhaul the current system?

The impetus behind the reform is to make it easier for first home buyers to enter the market, and for families or other buyers to upgrade or move into a more suitable property with less upfront cost. To that end, the proposed reforms would remove the sometimes-sizeable land tax and stamp duty costs currently due upfront (potentially removing tens of thousands of dollars from the home purchase process).

Chief economist for BIS Oxford Economics, Sarah Hunter told the ABC that currently, as a first home buyer, you’ve got to save up for the deposit to put down on the house and the mortgage on top of that.

“Then you’ve also got to save up to cover the cost of the stamp duty and it’s quite a significant amount of money,” she said.

According to the NSW Treasury, Australian and international evidence suggests the changes could see an increase in property transactions of 20-30% in the short-term and 40-60% in the long run. For example, the NSW Review of Federal Financial Relations (2020) found an annual tax on land values would raise the same revenue at a lower economic cost.

A buyer in NSW purchasing a property for the median State purchase price of $680, 000 could save up to $20, 000 over the first four years of ownership.

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I’m a first home buyer, will this impact any stamp duty concessions?

First homebuyers already qualify for stamp duty concessions, and opting in to the proposed reforms would render the first home buyer stamp duty exemptions and concessions irrelevant, the plan proposes existing stamp duty concessions for first home buyers could be replaced with a grant of up to $25,000.

The maximum first home buyer duty exemption is worth $24,682 normally (the 2020-21 has seen a temporary increase), which is a full exemption from duty on a $650,000 home. Lower concessions are available for homes up to $800,000.

If the reforms are adopted, first home buyers could use the first home buyer grant to pay stamp duty on their property, or could choose the annual property tax, pay no stamp duty, and spend the grant as they wish.

You might also like: First Home Buyers Grant: Everything you need to know

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What if you’ve already bought a property in NSW?

If the proposed reforms appeal to you and suit your financial situation, you may need to chat to a finance expert about the pros and cons of waiting to see them come into effect. At this stage they are still under consideration and community consultation, however, in recognition that some potential buyers might consider delaying their purchases so they can opt-in and this may, in turn, disrupt the property market, the Government is considering providing a limited window for retrospective opt-in to the annual property tax.  

Under this proposal, homebuyers who purchase a new property in the months leading up to the new property tax legislation could be permitted to opt-in to the property tax and obtain a refund of the stamp duty previously paid.

While the primary purpose of the reforms is to make purchasing property more affordable for NSW home buyers, whether it will be the case for your circumstances will be in the finite details – meaning should the proposed plan go ahead, obtaining independent financial advice is recommended before making your choice. This opt-in approach will also see the broadest range of people and circumstances benefit from the shift.

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Words by Melanie Hearse


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Mortgage holders can breathe a sigh of relief; interest rates are likely to remain low, at least for the time being.

Earlier today, the Reserve bank held its March meeting on monetary policy where it elected to leave the cash rate on hold at 0.10%, where it has stood since Melbourne Cup Day.

But while today’s decision was largely anticipated, the central bank and the financial markets appear to be at odds over when rates could rise again.

Catch up on last month: RBA holds as Housing Market Braces for Possible 30% Jump

Last year, RBA Governor Philip Lowe famously said rates would not move for at least three years. Although today’s decision falls in line with that rhetoric, the markets appear to be telling a different story – one where economic improvement could see rates rise earlier than anticipated.

“The RBA’s commitment about the cash rate staying where it is an expectation, it’s not a pledge,” ANZ Head of Australian Economics, David Plank told the ABC.

“So, if the data does do much much better than expected, maybe the cash rate will rise before 2024.”

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Aussie dollar faring well

Contributing to talk of a potential forward shift in interest rates, last week the Australian dollar reached a 3-year high, climbing to above 80 US cents.

The rise signals marked economic improvement, and the increased price of iron ore, business confidence following the arrival of the COVID vaccine and the falling unemployment rate are all believed to be contributing factors.

But its rise in value is not expected to stop there. Analysts at both ANZ and Commonwealth Bank expect the Australian dollar could reach as high as 82 US cents by the end of the year.

According to ANZ’s David Plank, economic improvement could potentially mean an interest rate hike sooner rather than later for fixed rate mortgages.

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The possible end of the RBA’s Term Funding Facility in June – a pool of bank funding established in March last year to encourage lending to households and businesses – is expected to contribute to this.

“Fixed rates are influenced by where market rates are. The key there, though, for fixed rates is really the Term Funding Facility (TFF),” Mr Plank told the ABC.

“The TFF is an anchoring point for the cost of funding for three years and so that is really setting the three-year mortgage rate.

“So when the TFF [ends], which the RBA has signalled could happen at the end of June, I would expect to see fixed rate mortgages rise as a consequence of that.”

Wage growth rebounds

Take-home pay has also seen a boost, with Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data for the December quarter revealing a rebound in wage growth.

Pay packets increased 0.6% in the three months ending 2020, the modest growth defying previously low expectations. In the previous quarter, wages grew just 0.1%.

Annually, the pace of growth remained at a historically low 1.4%. Still, this was higher than the 1.1% private sector economists thought it would drop to.

“December quarter’s moderate growth was influenced by businesses rolling back short-term wage reductions, returning wages to pre-COVID levels,” said ABS Head of Prices Statistics, Michelle Marquardt.

“The phased implementation of the Fair Work Commission annual wage review also had a small positive impact on wages.”

The income lift was felt most heavily in the private sector. Private sector wages rose 0.7% over the quarter, outpacing the public sector rise of 0.3%, where wage freezes had an impact on earnings.

Words by Kathryn Lee


Is your current interest rate still competitive? Contact one of our mortgage brokers to compare your options and find a deal that suits you.

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While sales took a dramatic hit last year as the pandemic forced buyers and sellers to kick their plans to the curb, 2021 has brought a promising turnaround for the property market.

Auction clearance rates in Sydney soared above 80% at the start of February, as buyers sought houses in the middle and outer suburbs to adapt to the flexibility of working from home.

The auction clearance rate is a measure of the percentage of properties sold at auction on a particular week. This year, it is setting new records.

“Every capital city recorded a clearance rate above 70% as volumes continued to surge higher after the festive period slowdown,” said the property research firm CoreLogic in its early analysis.

“Such strong auction results signal further upwards pressure on housing prices amidst extremely tight advertised supply levels and above average buyer demand.”

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Sydney’s auction clearance rate reached an astonishing record, hitting a 24-year high. The preliminary clearance rate achieved 88.7% after a recorded 272 auctions, which has not happened since June 14, 1997 when the finalised clearance rate was 89%.

Domain senior research analyst, Nicola Powell said, “We do expect a bounce early in the auction season because there are lower volumes of homes for sale and more home buyers on the market after the holidays.

“That said, it’s a very robust result and highlights the market is in an upswing and it is a very competitive market,” she said.

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Melbourne also had a big result, recording 388 auctions and a clearance rate of 83%.                    

A year ago, Melbourne had 211 auctions listed with a 65.8% clearance rate and Sydney 158 auctions with a clearance of 72.9%.

Canberra and Adelaide also ­recorded strong results, with clearance rates above 80%.

Perth recorded a 66.7% clearance rate, an increase from 38.9% a year ago. Brisbane cleared 55.2%, up from the previous 36.6% last year.

The figures indicate hope and optimism for the property market.

You might also like: RBA holds as Housing Market Braces for Possible 30% Jump

Property researcher CoreLogic reported 891 homes were up for auction nationally, 266 more than last year of the same week, ­returning a national clearance rate of 81.1%, well above last year’s 61%.

CoreLogic head of research, Tim Lawless said record low interest rates are driving consumer confidence, especially amongst first homebuyers.

“Consumer sentiment, which measures household mindsets about their finances and domestic economy and the willingness to make a high commitment decision, is seeing people get back into the market,” Mr Lawless said.

“If you’re going to be buying a home, it’s a big decision so to have a decent level of confidence is ­important.”

You might also like: Private Sale or Auction: Which is Best?

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This week over 1000 houses went under the hammer, and across the combined capital cities the preliminary auction clearance rate returned at 83.8%.

It shows an improvement compared to last week’s clearance preliminary result of 81.1%, when a lower 884 auctions took place, which revised down to 77.2% by final figures.

With interest rates at an all-time low, cheap finances and rising house prices, Sydney agents are being flooded with buyer interest. Many are reporting long queues at open-home inspections and dozens of pre-auctions offers.

This shows promise for the property market to keep growing and for the Australian property market to bounce back after the hit of COVID-19.

You might also like: Ten tips to make your property dreams come true on a budget

Words by Ece Demir


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While the real estate sector braced itself for a turbulent year in 2020, the Australian property market ended the year on a surprising high, with house price growth recorded across the nation.

The stage is set for a positive recovery in 2021, and investors are back in the market looking for new opportunities.

With significant government stimulus, continued low interest rates, stamp duty reforms for Victoria and New South Wales, and more buyer confidence, price growth is expected to rise.

The latest State of the Australian Property Market Report by Upside revealed the nation’s 21 hotspot suburbs predicted for price growth in 2021.

Upside director of sales and operations James Kirkland said, “in 2021, we expect to kick off earlier than usual with strong volumes after a build-up of properties that did not go to market in 2020, which could see prices momentarily drop as supply increases.”

Mr Kirkland highlighted that as more people continue to work from home post-pandemic, few homeowners will return to full-time work weeks spent in the company office. This has largely been reflected in the price growth of regional property markets across the country.

“This offers up areas beyond the city limits for Australians to find a home to suit their chosen lifestyle while maintaining a hybrid approach to work,” he said.

You might also like: Could now be the right time to invest in property?

Let’s look at the suburbs Upside recommends watching this year:


Bardwell Park

This hidden gem is tucked away from the noise of the city yet offers the convenience of a short train ride to Central Station. It also has easy access to the airport, the WestConnex and to the inner-west and Eastern suburbs. Ideal for families, this leafy neighbourhood offers spacious federation and double brick homes at an achievable price.

While the median house price was $1.16 million at the beginning of 2020, the suburb saw a lot of growth despite the pandemic and ended the year at a median house price of $1.35 million. Future price growth gains are expected for 2021.

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Hugged by the stunning Hawkesbury River, this small historical town is now considered as an outer suburb of Sydney, with the train commute to the CBD taking just over an hour. With all the town amenities needed, Windsor offers an excellent lifestyle choice and has gained a lot of popularity during the pandemic.

The median house price in Windsor is $687,000, which offers investors an affordable choice along with solid rental returns and annual growth.

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Popular with young professionals seeking a balanced lifestyle, this coastal suburb has natural beauty in spades. It also boasts excellent schools and restaurants and, importantly, a robust rental market. The median unit price is $940,000 and has experienced 12.25% price growth year-on-year.

You might also like: Your guide to the Sydney property market and house prices

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Continually hitting the property lists for top growth suburbs, Melton is well-linked to the city and is a sought-after suburb for families due to its affordable prices, larger blocks, train station and local amenities.

The median house price is $392,000 and the median unit price is $320,000. Upside also reported that the region is poised to accommodate more than 40% of Melbourne’s metro population growth over the next 40 years, with a lot more infrastructure and revitalisation planned.

You might also like: Your guide to Melbourne’s property market

Box Hill

This Melbourne suburb offers ample public transport options, as well as a hospital, good schools and lots of shops. As one of the top performing suburbs in the nation, Box Hill showed 20.84% capital growth over 2020. The median house price in Box Hill is $1.6 million.


A friendly, family-centred neighbourhood in Melbourne’s north, Craigieburn boasts large homes with an affordable price tag.

The median house price is $560,000 and the suburb has experienced 7.5% compound growth across five years.

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Sandwiched conveniently between the CBD and the University of Queensland, the leafy and desirable suburb of Toowong is popular with students, young professionals and families.

A $450 million village centre is planned for 2023, along with the release of new river-view apartments. The median house price is $1 million and annual growth is 12.81%. The median unit price is $451,000.

Camp Hill

Just 6km from the CBD, Camp Hill is a quick commute for city workers. It also has excellent schools nearby and a range of local dining and entertainment options.

The median house price in Camp Hill is $908,000 and the five-year compound growth rate is 4.1%.

If like thousands of Australians you’re eager to dip your toe in the property pool but not sure you’ll ever be able to save enough – take a deep breath and remember where there’s a will, there’s a way. With a little luck, good timing and out-of-the-box thinking – your dream home isn’t as far off as you think.  

1. Rentvesting

If buying in your beloved major city is out of reach, rentvesting might be the answer you’re looking for. Rentvesting is a culmination of the words rent and investing and means continuing to rent your place of residence and purchasing an investment property. Increasing inner-city prices gave rise to the movement, with first home buyers looking to cheaper rural properties to get their foot into the market.

For Emma, joining forces with a friend made property ownership a reality.

2. Don’t be a snob

If you want to nab a real estate bargain for your first home, it might be wise to look outside of your preferred areas toward less desirable suburbs. As prices rise in the outer suburbs of major cities, less desirable areas close to the city are rising with them. You might have to wait a while for the area to catch up to your inner-city standards, but you could potentially be rewarded with a bigger profit margin.

You might also like: Could now be the right time to invest in property?

3. Take advantage of being a first home buyer

There are a few ways being a first home buyer can work to your advantage – the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and the First Home Owner’s Grant (FHOG). The first is an initiative where the government goes guarantor for up to 15% of the property’s price, meaning you only need to have a 5% deposit. The FHOG comes in the form of a lump sum payment – $10,000 for existing homes and $20,000 to build a new one. Eligibility for both and the amount received is based on individual circumstances.

4. Be wary of estate agents

Estate agents are there to sell you a house, which can sometimes lead to people buying beyond their means. To avoid falling for any sales tactics, determine your absolute upper limit and research the property and area before inspections or auctions.

5. Preapproval

Having your loan pre-approved is a surefire way to avoid falling for aforementioned sales tactics, or simply spending too much. A pre-approved loan will force you to look at houses in your budget and stop you from offering that little bit extra.

6. Get your foot in your door

Sometimes it’s best to just get in your foot in the door, even if it’s not in your dream house or location. Remember that first homes aren’t necessarily the homes you will live in forever. Think of it as a stepping-stone along the journey to your dream home.

7. Follow the 30% rule

The 30% rule, aka do not spend more than 30% of your income on mortgage repayments, is an excellent guide to help you determine your budget. Following this rule might mean your first home isn’t your dream home, but it will allow you to live comfortably and pay off your mortgage.

You might also like: New lending laws to be a ‘game-changer’ for home loans

8. Up your credit score

Increasing your credit score can help maximise borrowing power. There are numerous ways to improve your credit score, but you need to know what it is before making any changes. You can quickly and easily check your credit score on several platforms, like Canstar or Finder.

Compare your interest rate today.


9. Guarantor

Guarantor loans are becoming more common as property prices rise. Simply put, a guarantor uses the equity in their property to guarantee 20% of the mortgage. They are most commonly undertaken by a parent, and with an investment property, as some banks don’t allow main residents to be used. Taking this route means you may no need to pay a deposit or Lenders Mortgage Insurance. You will still need to prove you can pay the regular repayments and put down a 10% down payment at purchase.

10. Consider co-ownership

If your parents aren’t in the position to go, guarantor, perhaps they might consider co-ownership. The property’s price can be divided however you like – meaning a co-owner can take on 50% of the cost, or as little as 5 or 10% – whatever is needed to get you into your first home. If your parents also aren’t a viable option for co-ownership, you can be like Ben and Emma and ask a friend.

You might also like: Australian property market still booming, despite the recession

By Nell Matzen


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If buying a property is your goal for 2021 (or beyond), it may be wise to set your sights on the West. While it may be known as one of our nation’s more isolated capital cities, Perth more than makes up for it in lifestyle. Combining a bustling, metropolitan CBD with a laidback beach feel, there’s truly something for everyone.

The Western Australian gem has plenty to offer in terms of property choices, too. From inner-city apartments with riverside views to larger family homes in the outer ring, there’s no shortage of options for both home-buyers and investors.

Read on for everything you need to know about Perth’s property market – including median property prices, and the best places to buy in Perth.

Fast Facts about Perth

Perth’s property marketing is currently experiencing a long-awaited recovery in both new and established sectors. Not only is price growth booming, but houses are selling at their fastest rate in 14 years. So, if there’s ever been a time to get on the Perth property ladder, it’s now. Here’s what you need to know about the current stakes in Perth.

Perth’s median property prices

Perth has long been known as one of Australia’s most affordable capital cities to buy property, and for good reason. The median property price ranges from $385,000 for units to $770,000 for houses. That’s compared to around $1 million in Sydney, the country’s most expensive capital city.

Perth’s market trends

Despite struggling with falling property prices over the last decade, Perth’s property market is now making a strong comeback. Due to a combination of low vacancies and pressure on rent, it has bounced back faster after COVID-19 than many of the other capital cities.

With many of the best-performing areas also being on the more affordable end of the spectrum, conditions are also favourable for first-time buyers. This has been aided by the Federal Government’s HomeBuilder grant, which has incentivised first time buyers to purchase residential land to buy on.

You might also like: Your guide to the First Home Owner Grant WA

Perth’s average rental yield

Perth has a unique combination of relatively low property prices and high returns, making it an ideal choice for investors. Houses in Perth rent out for an average of $500 per week with an average rental yield of 3.4%. Meanwhile units rent for an average of $410 per week with a rental yield of 5.5%

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Perth’s average capital growth

After a period of stagnation, Perth’s capital growth is on the cusp of a boom. Experts predict that it will lead the country in capital growth, with a forecasted rise of 18% from 2021 to 2023.

What’s special about Perth?

There’s a reason it has been said that if you find yourself in a relationship with someone from Perth, you’re likely to eventually find yourself living in Perth. Locals know that this riverside city provides an unbeatable combination of affordability, lifestyle and friendly people. Here, we take a look at what makes Perth tick.
View of City Beach Perth

Growing population – Demographics

Perth has experienced significant population growth over the last decade. The residential population has almost doubled in the last ten years to reach 24,244 people and is estimated to reach 39,500 people by 2036.

Perth’s skyrocketing population is owed partially to the growing FIFO market, as well as homeseekers flocking to the city from other states to take advantage of the affordable prices.

Perth has a diverse population, made up of families, students, young professionals and FIFO workers. By 2026, Perth is predicted to experience a 34.9% growth in population in people under working age. This points to the growing number of young families bringing up children in the city.

Welcoming layout

Perth sits proudly on the north bank of the Swan River, and can be drawn broadly into four regions. In the North, you’ll find the buzzing harborside hub of Northbridge, while South Perth is known for its leafy, green streets and picturesque parks. Travel East and you’ll find inner-city charm a stonesthrow from the CBD, while West Perth stretches around the sprawling Kings Park. Fremantle – or Freo, as locals call it – in the Southwest is also a popular destination, thanks to its idyllic coastal charm.

Getting around is easy in Perth, thanks to the suburban bus routes and train lines that run through the city. It also features a major rail interchange, Perth Train Station, which connects it to other cities in Western Australia.


Perth has a vibrant and progressive culture that attracts people from all walks of life. Downtown Perth is bursting with life and has no shortage of diverse eateries that have bounced back well in the face of COVID-19. There’s plenty of shopping on offer too, from the commerce hubs of Forrest Chase and Carillon City to the historic London Court. From the 20 sports clubs to iconic beaches like Cottlesloe, the city truly has a mix of everything.


Much like the population, Perth’s economy has experience strong growth over the last decade. According to data from REMPlan, Perth supports around 150,000 jobs and has an annual economic output of $83.158 billion. The mining industry is the biggest driver of economic growth in Perth, equating to 33% of output. As the economy is less reliant on the tourism industry, Perth’s economy has stayed resilient throughout the pandemic.

FAQs about Perth

Thinking about moving to Perth, but still have some burning questions? Here’s everything you need to know:

Perth at sunset

Are house prices falling in Perth?

Following years of plummeting property prices, Perth was on the cusp of a comeback when COVID-19 hit. This took a brief hit during the height of the pandemic (with property prices lowering from 2.2% in May, June and July), but it is now back on its recovery trajectory. In an ANZ report titled Housing: a strong 2021 published by ANZ on Monday, economists estimated Perth property prices would grow by 12% in the next year, placing it ahead of Brisbane and Hobart. This would make it Perth’s biggest spike on housing prices since the mining boom of 2010.

Is it a good time to buy property in Perth?

A perfect storm of conditions make it an ideal time to buy property in Perth. While property prices are about the boom, Perth still has the lowest median house prices of any capital city. This makes it more accessible for first-time buyers looking to get on the property ladder with the likelihood of high returns in the future.

Record low mortgage rates, improving economic conditions and government grants also make it a great time to claim your piece of earth in Perth.

What government grants are available in Perth?

Western Australia has a range of government incentives that make it even more affordable to build or purchase a property in Perth. These are the grants that are currently available:

The $25,000 Federal HomeBuilder Grant

This nationwide grant is available to owner occupiers (including first home buyers) who want to build a new property or substantially renovate an existing one. It can be used simultaneously with the $20,000 WA Building Bonus and the $10,000 WA First Home Owner Grant.

This grant has been extended to include new building contracts signed between 1st January 2021 and 31st March 2021 at a reduced incentive of $15,000.

The $20,000 WA Building Bonus

Eligible applicants with a contract to build a new property on vacant land or enter an off-the-plan contract to buy a new home in a single-tier strata scheme may be entitled to a $20,000 grant.

The $10,000 WA First Home Owner Grant

This is a one-off payment of up to $10,000 designed to incentivise and help first home buyers purchase their first property. It can be used for buying or building your first home, but it must be used as your primary place of residence.

WA FHOG Duty Concession

If you are eligible for the WA First Home Owner Grant or would otherwise be but you are purchasing an established home, you may also be entitled to a concession on the first home owner rate of duty.

Not sure if you’re eligible for these government grants in Perth? Consider working with one of our experienced brokers who could assist you in identifying your eligibility and preparing your application.

You might also like: How to take the emotion out of buying your first home

Is it expensive to live in Perth?

Perth is not only one of the most liveable capital cities in the world, it also happens to be the most affordable in Australia. According to data from Numbeo, the estimated monthly cost of living excluded living for a family of four is around $4,674. For a single person, estimated monthly costs are $1311. The cost of living index in Perth is 4.73% lower than in Sydney, Australia’s most expensive city. Meanwhile, rent in Perth is on average 48% lower than Sydney.

The tradeoff with Perth is that being quite isolated, it can be expensive and time-consuming to travel elsewhere in Australia. However, many people find that the affordable cost in living and great lifestyle makes the distance worthwhile.

woman shopping in Perth

What are the best suburbs in Perth?

There’s no hard and fast answer to the question “where is the best place to live in Perth?” There’s truly something for everybody and each of its suburbs has a very different feel. However, there are certain pockets of the city that are considered more liveable than others.

In a report published by realestate.com.au, East Perth was named the most lifestyle-friendly suburb not only in Perth, but all of Western Australia. This is thanks to its close proximity to the city (an 8 minute drive or 12 minutes by public transport), waterfront dining scene and impressive position on the Swan River. Here, the median house price is $913,000, compared to $570,000 for units.

Highgate is considered another highly liveable suburb in Perth. Located under 2 km North-East of the CBD, this inner-city area is actually the smallest neighbourhood in Perth. This gives it a welcoming, small town feel, despite how close it is to the city. Here, the median house price sits at $700,000, compared to $357,500 for units.

A little further from the CBD, Ashfield is also regarded as a great place to live in Perth. Just over 8 km from the city centre, this riverside suburb was once known for its railway houses converted into state-funded housing. Now, it’s renowned for its affordable prices – the median house price here is just $455,000.

If your budget extends a little further, Crawley and Rossmoyne are also popular suburbs in Perth. Sitting on the serene Matilda Bay, Crawley will set you back around $815,000 for a unit, while Rossmoyne is an affluent suburb in the Canning River with a median house price of $1,160,000.

You might also like: Your guide to Perth’s most popular suburbs

What is the safest suburb in Perth?

As far as capital cities go, Perth is considered one of the safest in Australia. But like anywhere, the level of safety varies from suburb to suburb. If priority is a high priority for you, you’re not alone. According to  realestate.com.au’s Life in Australia Index report 72% of Perth residents consider safety their number one factor in deciding where to live – ranking it above even affordable housing.

Police data from Canstar shows that Iluka is Perth’s safest suburb, with a crime rate of just 1.33 reported incidents per 100 residents. The second safest is Mahogany Creek, at 1.56 incidents per 100 people. Other extremely safe suburbs in Perth include Hovea, Stoneville, Parkerville, Tapping, Burns Beach, Connolly, Roleystone and Darch.

What is the richest suburb in Perth?

Those who have seen the luxurious mansions of Dalkeith would not be surprised to hear that it is the richest suburb in Perth. With a median sale price of $2.35 million according to REIWA, it experienced a 4% price growth in 2020.

Perth’s second most expensive suburb is Cottlesloe, which is owed to its idyllic beach lifestyle and proximity to Fremantle and the CBD. While it’s median sale price declined by 12.8% in 2020, it still sits strong at $1.85 million.

Third on the list is Nedlands, which crept up and stole the title from City Beach in 2020. This affluent Western suburb features both river and ocean views, making it a desirable place to live in Perth. Here, the median house price is $1.75 million, which has seen a 7% increase in 2020. Nedlands is also one of Perth’s most in-demand suburbs, taking just 26 days to sell on average – 16 days faster than the Perth region as a whole.

Ready to buy a property in Perth? Now is the time to dive in and take advantage of the favorable property conditions. However, to ensure you score the best deal on your mortgage it’s best to work with a home loan specialist. eChoice’s experienced brokers can help you compare hundreds of home loan options and find the right option to suit your needs.


Words by Emma Norris

You don’t need to leave your house to get an eChoice home loan consultation – As always we will discuss your options over the phone – we’re here to make your home loan journey easier.

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