RBA rate cut first test of DEF ban

by Adam Smith02 Nov 2011

Firstfolio has predicted the RBA rate cut will be a "litmus test" for the government's unilateral ban on exit fees.

The company said lenders would be closely watching consumer reaction to the cut, to see if the move had a material impact on refinancing activity in light of the exit fee ban.

"Any time the RBA moves we see a spike in inquiries from existing borrowers shopping around for the best mortgage rate. Some refinance with a new lender, but many don’t after weighing up impediments such as exit fees and bank account portability," Firstfolio executive general manager for retail distribution Andrew Clouston said.

Clouston said the cut marks the first RBA rate move since the ban came into effect, and will largely test the impact of the ban on borrowers' willingness to switch lenders. He predicted the cash rate cut could also spell the end for fixed rate popularity.

"A cycle of RBA tightening always triggers growth in fixed-rate loan sales and that’s definitely what we have seen in recent months, helped along by a drop in wholesale fixed-income rates. But when rates head downward, borrowers are more inclined to ride the trend and stay in variable loan products. The shift in direction signalled by the RBA today may only be temporary, but we will almost certainly see borrower sentiment turn toward variable loans as a result," Clouston said.