Our listeners often inspire the content for the podcasts and this week it was Alastair that raised the subject of this week’s podcast. Submitted as a question for ‘Ask Rob & Rob’, Alistair quite rightly noted there was probably a big enough talking point in this one, to make a full Property Podcast episode, so we did.
But what’s been happening with The Robs this week? Rob D is putting the finishing touches to his new book which will be out on April 26th, we’re all excited about this one as it is definitely needed.
The Robs will also be at the Meetups tonight – Rob B is stand in leader in King’s Cross, but Rob D has travelled to Scotland to our rebooted Edinburgh Meetup. It’s not too late to get a ticket to your local Meetup, and remember, there’s zero selling, just good honest property chat over a few drinks.
Now on to this week’s big topic – interest rates!
A brief history of interest rates
- Long term average interest rates are around 5%
- In 1990 they peaked at 15%
- For the rest of the 1990s they were roughly between 6% and 7%
- In the early 2000s they were mostly between 4% and 5.5%
- In April 2009 they fell to 0.5% and stayed there until a further cut to 0.25% last year
Why are rates so low?
- To promote consumer demand. You’re more likely to spend money if you get little return on saving it
- To boost asset prices, which increases willingness to spend
- To make it cheaper for companies to invest in growing
- If we’re being cynical, to make it cheaper for the government to service its own debts!
How people misunderstand interest rates
- An increase in your mortgage from 2% to 3% doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a 50% increase
- If you borrow £200k at 2%, your monthly interest payment is £334
- When it increases to 3%, the payment goes up to £500
- This is what Alastair was referring to. It’s easy to make investments work when the finance is so cheap. But when it’s not so cheap, it’ll be much harder for investments to stack up
- The PRA rules will help for new investments because they get stress tested at 5.5% anyway
- Investors who’ve been on trackers since pre-crash and Owner-occupiers could find themselves in big trouble
What happens if rates go back to double-digits?
- Unlikely because rates are set by BOE now
- Also, rates tend to rise to combat inflation. Inflation is the result of more demand than supply (roughly speaking), and we seem to be moving into an era of low demand demographically
- There’s been huge asset price inflation as a result of QE and low rates (hence demand for assets), but this hasn’t filtered down into the real world and seems unlikely to do so
- So there seems little prospect of rates getting really high. But they will go up from where they are now…
So how worried should we prepare for rates rising?
- Rises will be mitigated by banks lending at more competitive rates. With rates as low as they are now, they’re making more margin than they used to
- Stress-test up to at least 5% – you have to if you’re borrowing anyway
- If you’re sitting on properties that only cashflow because you’re on a very low rate, make plans to deal with that before rates rise again
- Rates will rise from where they are, even if they don’t get up to double digits – and even when they were that high, it wasn’t for very long
- It will be harder to make investments add up so finding and adding value will be more important than ever
- Don’t kid yourself that this is normal! Plan for rates to be higher, then enjoy them while they’re so low
News story: Warren Buffet is also a shrewd property investor
Billionaire Warren Buffet may not be known for his property investments but unsurprisingly he hasn’t ignored property all together. He is well known for his long term approach to investment generally, and he’s applied that same way of thinking to this property investment which has done amazingly well for him.
Resource of the week
“Back Again?” is a Chrome extension that tracks how many times you’ve visited a page each day.
Good for helping you break habits or realise how addicted you are! Install it if you dare!
Continue the conversation over in the forum
Do you worry about interest rates? What do you do to plan ahead for every eventuality?
Let us know your take on this important subject and join the conversation over in the forum!
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