Interest rate hike hurts local homebuyers
By ALEX EASTON
FOR the good of the nation, Paul Wimble and Kristy Temby may be forced out of the Ballina home they had planned to raise their unborn baby in.
And, for the good of the nation, Mr Wimble could lose his carpentry job if rising interest rates bite into the region's housing sector.
Mr Wimble and Ms Temby are among those most likely to be hurt by yesterday's .25 per cent interest rate rise, and by a second rise tipped to arrive around May.
But with a mortgage of $200,000 chewing up more than half Mr Wimble's income and a baby due in little more than a fortnight, the couple said they had enjoyed none of the rampant consumer spending Reserve Bank governor Ian Macfarlane said had forced the increase.
Announcing the rate rise in a statement yesterday, Mr Macfarlane said high consumer spending, along with other factors, threatened soaring inflation and had to be slowed with a rate rise.
Mr Wimble and Ms Temby said they had no regrets about the decision to buy a home, but were anxious about the potential impact of rate increases.
And they are not alone.
The $30 monthly increase in the cost of repayments on an average $200,000 mortgage may sound like small change, but Northern Rivers Social Development Council chairwoman and Lismore City Councillor Jenny Dowell yesterday warned they could be crippling to families whose budgets were already stretched.
Figures from the 2001 Census showed about 70 per cent of Northern Rivers families spent more than a third of their income on their mortgages, she said.
Mr Wimble and Ms Temby said they would cope with the rate rise by giving up small luxuries, such as social outings with their friends.
"But if there's a slowdown in the building industry, that could affect my job," Mr Wimble said. "I was one of the latest guys put on so, if it slows down, I'll be one of the first to go."
If worst came to worst, the couple said they could move in with Ms Temby's parents and rent the house to cover the mortgage, but they would prefer to raise their child in their own home.
"I don't know who the people (at the Reserve Bank) are," Mr Wimble said. "I don't know whether they have been in a situation like this, but I'm sure they're all millionaires and have heaps of money and own their own houses.
"Why should they worry about us little people?"
A spokesman for Mr Macfarlane, when approached by the The Northern Star, declined to answer Mr Wimble's question.