RESERVE BANK Governor Graeme Wheeler made four miss-steps last year when he increased the official cash rate to 3.5 per cent in increments of 0.25 per cent.
I was among a handful of people to call Wheeler out on it, believing there was no real justification for the rate rises. In raising interest rates he stuck his leg out and tripped up the economy -- just as it was starting to get into its stride following the global recession.
During the past two months he has taken half a per cent off the OCR so it now sits at 3 per cent, and there's a 50-50 chance of more cuts to come -- although speculation of even lower rates are starting to cool.
However, Wheeler does need credit for cutting rates during winter, when real estate activity is traditionally at its lowest point of the year. But then he has no choice but to act now if he wants to help exporters, businesses and people looking to buy a home -- particularly those outside Auckland.
Expect real estate prices to tick up as a result of lower mortgage rates, because people will be able to borrow more -- but the market may calm down a little when the new property investor rules come in on October 1.
On Wednesday, Wheeler said the Reserve Bank is concerned about the risks to the economy should a "major correction" in Auckland house prices take place.
"In the current circumstances, macro prudential policy can be helpful in reducing some of the pressures arising from the Auckland housing market," he said. "The proposed LVR measures and the Government's policy initiatives that it announced in the 2015 Budget should begin to ease the impact of investor activity."
Wheeler's decision to lower rates, coupled with banks' accesss to cheap money from off-shore, is leading to some fantastic fixed-rate deals.
The BNZ and Westpac are offering a rate of 4.69 per cent for a two-year term -- possibly the lowest New Zealand mortgage rate in 60 years. Other attractive rates include a one-year deal of 4.89 per cent offered by many of the High St banks.
The bottom line is that the banks are using these low rates to increase their market share, in the hopes of holding on to their new customers when they put the rates up -- possibly in the second half of 2016 (but who's to say?).
Deciding when to fix, and for how long, is a question only you can answer, but there is a chance of even better deals down the track if Wheeler lowers the OCR again on 10 September.
You may not need to change banks to get the fixed rate you want if you can convince your current lender to match a competitor's rate.
For the third year in a row Harcourts has been voted the country's Most Trusted real estate agency brand by Reader's Digest. Harcourts CEO Hayden Duncan says the win is a badge of honour, "one we wear with immense pride".
"We are constantly looking at ways to improve our clients' experience with us."
Last week Barfoot & Thompson was named 2015 Large Real Estate Agency of the Year for the second year running. It follows three wins at the 2015 Asia Pacific Property Awards.