Why realtor believes next six weeks could be 'good time to pounce' on property

  • 12/01/2023
Here's what he had to say.
Here's what he had to say. Photo credit: Getty Images.

A realtor says the next six weeks could be a "good time to pounce" on a new property ahead of another likely uptick in the Official Cash Rate (OCR).

The Reserve Bank is scheduled to deliver its next Monetary Policy Statement (MPS) and OCR decision on February 23. 

The OCR stands currently at 4.25 percent, but is tipped to be increased again to combat stubborn inflation. The RBNZ's last MPS in November forecast the OCR to hit 5.5 percent in 2023 while annual inflation is expected to peak at 7.5 percent.

Further increases to the OCR will mean lenders will crank up mortgage rates, leading to Century 21 New Zealand owner Tim Kearins saying borrowers have a six-week window of "interest rate stability" before more changes.

"Without doubt rising interest rates will put a lot of pressure on many homeowners this year," he said.

"However, we must keep it in perspective. When you review interest rates in New Zealand over the past decades, for now they're not out of the ordinary."

While the OCR has seen large jumps recently - including a record 0.75 basis point increase in November - it's coming from a low base. Back in August 2021, the OCR was at just 0.25 percent, meaning interest rates were very low.

The OCR hasn't been as high as it is now since December 2008. Before then, it was regularly above 5 percent, and before the Global Financial Crisis, it sat at around 8 percent.

However, the November MPS did predict the OCR will begin falling in 2024 and be at 4.4 percent by the end of 2025.

"The Reserve Bank has given everyone plenty of notice where interest rates are heading in 2023," said Kearins.

"Given we're effectively still on 2022 rates, this summer could prove to be a good time to lock in a reasonable rate for a property at a reasonable price.

"The market is softer and slower overall this summer, but there are still pockets within cities and around the country that are bucking the trend. If you're contemplating buying or selling, a good real estate agent will tell you where the opportunities are."

House prices have been falling nationally. In November's MPS, the RBNZ said prices had declined about 11 percent over the past 12 months after rising significantly over the pandemic.