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Source: CoreLogic – Commentary by Kelvin Davidson, Chief Property Economist, CoreLogic NZ

There was never any doubt that the official cash rate (OCR) would be increased today. The only uncertainty was how big the rise would be, and in the end the Reserve Bank opted for the ‘shock factor’ of a 0.5% increase, taking the OCR to 1.5% – its highest level since August 2019 (when it was dropped from 1.5% to 1% on the 7th).

We had slightly leaned towards this outcome in advance of the decision, just because the minutes of the last meeting showed that a 0.5% rate rise was a very close-run thing last time (even though they eventually opted for 0.25%), and if anything the inflation environment has got worse since then, but with unemployment still low too. Perhaps the biggest problem for the RBNZ is the risk that inflation expectations get out of hand, resulting in a longer period of high actual inflation.

However, the decision was very finely balanced, and a 0.25% increase would have been no surprise either, possibly as they took the conservative approach and waited for the full Monetary Policy Statement on 25th May to have the opportunity to provide detailed analysis and projections.

For the housing market, the implications are clear – even though mortgage rates have already been rising again in recent weeks, this process isn’t over yet. Many ‘special’ fixed-rate mortgages in the popular 1-2 year terms are currently in the range of 4-5%, and it seems fair to suggest that this could end up in the range of 5-6% over the coming months, perhaps a bit above. Although many borrowers are still sitting on their lower rates agreed last year or earlier, about 50% of existing loans in NZ are up for renewal over the next 12 months, with a sharp repayment rise looming.

At least in terms of credit availability, however, the past few months may be looked back upon as the low-point. After all, some banks are reportedly making a bit more low-deposit finance available, while the relaxed CCCFA rule changes are set to commence soon.

Given the risk of higher interest rates feeding back into a slower economy, we still wonder if the ultimate peak for the OCR will be lower than the >3% figure that the RBNZ currently envisages. But either way, there are more mortgage rate increases to come, which will reinforce the housing market slowdown that has now so clearly arrived.

Of course, with unemployment low and ability to repay having been tested at higher interest rates anyway, we think conditions are still in place for a ‘soft landing’ rather than serious downturn.

About CoreLogic NZ:

CoreLogic NZ is a leading, independent provider of property data and analytics. We help people build better lives by providing rich, up-to-the-minute property insights that inform the very best property decisions. Formed in 2014 following the merger of two companies that had strong foundations in New Zealand’s property industry – Terralink Ltd and PropertyIQ NZ Ltd – we have the most comprehensive property database with coverage of 99% of the NZ property market and more than 500 million decision points in our database.

We provide services across a wide range of industries, including Banking & Finance, Real Estate, Government, Insurance and Construction. Our diverse, innovative solutions help our clients identify and manage growth opportunities, improve performance and mitigate risk. We also operate consumer-facing portal – providing important insights for people looking to buy or sell their home or investment property. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of CoreLogic, Inc – one of the largest data and analytics companies in the world with offices in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and United Kingdom.  For more information visit