Have interest rates peaked and what next for savings and mortgages?

    enSeptember 22, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Bank of England keeps interest rates steady despite lower-than-expected inflationThe BoE kept rates steady, but inflation remains high and volatile, impacting mortgage and savings rates. Homebuyers may gain confidence, but holiday season could slow down buying.

      The Bank of England kept interest rates steady at 5.25% despite some better than expected inflation news, leading to a close 5-4 vote. This decision could give homebuyers more confidence, but mortgage rates and savings rates have been volatile. The inflation figure came in lower than expected despite rising oil prices and petrol prices, but personal inflation rates may still feel higher depending on circumstances. The next decision is in November, and the general public may have become numb to the consecutive base rate rises. The freeze on the base rate could give more confidence to homebuyers, but historically, house buying slows down around the holiday season. Savings rates have been increasing, especially in the fixed rate space, and the inflation figure may not fully reflect the impact of rising energy and food prices. Overall, the decision to freeze interest rates was a close call, and there are many factors at play that could influence the economy in the coming months.

    • Bank of England Holds Rates Despite Lower InflationThe Bank of England held rates steady despite lower inflation due to decreasing core inflation, loosening labor market conditions, and decreased money supply. Economists debate the causality between money supply and inflation.

      The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided against raising interest rates again at their latest meeting, despite unexpectedly lower inflation figures. Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, was the decisive vote in favor of a hold. The MPC is focusing on reducing future inflation rather than trying to reverse the current inflation number. Core inflation, which had sparked inflation panic earlier in the year, has dropped significantly. The labor market conditions are also loosening, and money supply has decreased. Economists debate whether money supply causes inflation, but the correlation between the two is noticeable in the charts. Additionally, banks and building societies had already raised mortgage rates significantly, reducing the need for the MPC to raise rates as much. The MPC may reconsider their decision at the November meeting, but a lot can happen between now and then.

    • Bank of England Pauses on Interest Rate Hikes Amid Economic Slowdown and Rising Mortgage PaymentsThe Bank of England has paused on interest rate hikes due to an economic slowdown and the impact of rising mortgage payments for those on fixed-term deals. Inflation is expected to rise, and the housing market and construction industry are showing signs of a slowdown. It's a good time to secure a high-interest savings account.

      The Bank of England's decision to pause on interest rate hikes is a response to the economic slowdown and the impact of rising mortgage payments for those on fixed-term deals. The transmission method for rate rises is no longer as immediate as it once was, and people are feeling the pinch, particularly in the housing market and with savings. The consensus is that fixed-rate savings accounts may have peaked, so it's a good time to secure a high-interest account if you're in the market. Meanwhile, inflation is expected to rise due to the oil price spike, and the economy is showing signs of a slowdown. The Bank of England is not yet certain if a recession has been triggered, but it has acknowledged a significant slowdown in the property market and construction industry.

    • Headline savings rates vs actual returnsWhile headline savings rates can seem appealing, their actual returns may not be as high. Establish a savings habit through regular contributions and consider fixed-term mortgages for cheaper deals.

      While headline savings rates may seem attractive, such as the 8% rate with a £200 top limit mentioned, the actual return over the year may not be as high due to the way they work. However, establishing a savings habit through regular contributions to a savings account is still worthwhile. Regarding mortgages, rates have been fluctuating, but experts suggest that longer-term fixes could offer cheaper deals. If listeners are approaching their lender's Standard Variable Rate (SVR), it might be worth considering a fixed-rate mortgage to secure a lower rate. Additionally, some banks and building societies are offering rates under 5% for fixed-term mortgages. Stay informed about the latest savings and mortgage rates by signing up for alerts at money.co.uk/forward/alert.

    • Mortgage rates may drop below 5%Mortgage rates could decrease further due to falling swap rates, but affordability concerns and cautious lending may limit access for some borrowers

      Mortgage rates have been on a rollercoaster ride in recent months, but they may be heading back down towards the 5% mark for those looking to remortgage or buy a new home. However, the housing market as a whole may be facing challenges, as affordability becomes a concern for potential borrowers. Swap rates, which influence fixed-rate mortgages, suggest that there is room for mortgage rates to fall further. Banks and building societies are in a strong financial position and have an appetite to lend, but their willingness to do so may depend on the loan-to-value ratio of the borrower and the current state of the housing market. With house prices dropping and affordability becoming a concern, particularly in expensive areas, lenders may be more cautious about lending large sums of money. The Bank of England's pause on interest rates does not necessarily mean that rates and inflation are returning to their pre-pandemic levels, but rather that they may be stabilizing around new norms.

    • Central banks aiming for a return to the old normalCentral banks plan to raise mortgage rates above inflation to stabilize the economy, making houses more affordable and leading to a stronger economic position for the population, despite potential risks for those with large mortgages.

      Following the financial crisis, the new normal involved extremely low interest rates, leading to borrowing money at a cost below inflation. Central banks, including the Bank of England, anticipated this situation would persist due to high levels of debt and damage to the financial system. Although inflation is now on the decline, central banks are unlikely to lower interest rates in tandem. Instead, they may follow a "table mountain scenario," where rates rise and then stabilize before eventually decreasing. Central banks are using this experience to aim for a return to the old normal, where mortgage rates are above inflation and wages increase faster than inflation, leading to a more stable economy. This would result in higher mortgage rates, which would help contain house price inflation and make houses more affordable compared to wages. However, it may bring challenges for those with large mortgages needing to remortgage. Despite the potential difficulties, a return to the old normal could lead to a stronger economic position for the population.

    • Government interventions and market instabilityFocusing on housing supply and infrastructure could lead to a healthier housing market, while recent sell-offs present potential investment opportunities.

      Excessive government intervention in the housing market, including schemes to help first-time buyers and frequent stamp duty changes, can lead to market instability and unsustainable house price growth. Instead, focusing on building a sufficient supply of good-quality homes in various sizes and providing necessary infrastructure and facilities could lead to a healthier housing market. In the markets, despite recent sell-offs, historically, such dips are normal and investors might see it as an opportunity to buy at lower prices. The pause from the Bank of England could potentially boost the UK market as it aligns expectations with the end of the interest rate cycle.

    • Last week of the quarter and month: Economic data releases and industry challengesMarkets and industries will closely monitor economic data releases, particularly regarding interest rates, while the motor industry faces challenges from the UK's delay in the petrol and diesel ban.

      The last week of the quarter and month, which includes the final trading day, can be volatile as big players reallocate funds before the end of the year. Additionally, there are significant economic data releases, such as European inflation, Chinese PMIs, and the US Fed's preferred inflation gauge, the PCE number, that will impact interest rates. In the news, there's been a delay in the UK's petrol and diesel ban, causing controversy in the motor industry, which has historically benefited from deadlines for selling new cars. The switch to electric cars is a challenge due to insufficient charging infrastructure, but the industry is innovating and improving rapidly. The government's delay in the ban could impact the motor industry's sales incentives and readiness for the transition. Overall, markets and industries will be closely watching economic data to determine future actions, especially regarding interest rates.

    • The Challenges of Transitioning to Electric VehiclesDespite government mandates, consumers face challenges with EV affordability and infrastructure, particularly in urban areas. Long-distance travel remains complicated, but improvements are being made. Consumers need clear information to make informed decisions.

      The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is ongoing, but there are challenges, particularly regarding infrastructure and affordability. While some people can charge their EVs at home, others in urban areas manage with on-street parking and charging solutions like lampposts. Long-distance travel remains more complicated, but improvements are being made. The government has delayed the deadline for banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, raising concerns about readiness. However, a crucial component of this transition, the zero emission vehicle mandate, requires manufacturers to increase their electric car sales each year or face significant fines. Consumers may be hesitant due to infrastructure concerns and the higher cost of EVs, which are now depreciating faster and becoming more expensive to finance due to rising interest rates. A clearer understanding of EVs, their charging capabilities, and costs is necessary for consumers to make informed decisions.

    • Exploring Financial Decisions and Neighborly ConflictsConsider buying a car through a salary sacrifice scheme due to rising interest rates. Effective communication can help prevent neighbor disputes, but fence installation may require planning permission.

      This discussion touches on several topics, including finance, car buying, taxes, and neighbor disputes. With higher interest rates making it harder for finance deals, now might be a good time to buy a car, especially an electric one, through a salary sacrifice scheme. Neighbors and their behaviors, such as building extensions or overlooking gardens, can lead to conflicts and potential need for fences. However, the legality of putting up a tall fence around a back garden without planning permission can be a concern. Overall, the podcast offers insights into current financial situations, the importance of communication, and the complexities of neighbor relationships.

    • Communicate with Neighbors to Find SolutionsEffective communication and finding mutually beneficial solutions can prevent neighbor disputes, but be aware of limitations and property boundaries.

      When dealing with potential issues with neighbors, it's important to try and communicate and find a solution that works for everyone before taking drastic measures. My father-in-law's experience of providing updates on a home purchase without being asked inspired the idea of having good neighborly conversations. However, there are limitations to what can be done, such as planning permission and height requirements for fences. In the case of a disputed fence, it's essential to determine whose side it is on before taking action. While some people may prioritize privacy in their gardens, others may not be as bothered. Ultimately, it's a complicated issue that requires thoughtful consideration and communication.

    • Respecting Neighbor's Garden PrivacyConsider neighbors' feelings and preferences before making changes to your property that could impact their garden privacy. Communicate and compromise to avoid conflicts, and consider environmental impacts before removing greenery.

      The value of privacy in one's garden should not be underestimated, and the removal of mature planting, trees, or hedges can lead to major neighborly disputes. While it may seem like a personal decision to make changes to one's property, it's essential to consider the feelings and preferences of neighbors, especially if they place a high value on their garden privacy. Communication and compromise are key to avoiding potential conflicts. Additionally, the removal of greenery not only affects privacy but also has negative impacts on the environment and wildlife. So, before making any drastic changes, it's recommended to consult with neighbors and consider alternative solutions.

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