"We have found that in an increasing interest rate environment people seek out specialist advice, look at alternatives, fix, or refinance." Australia's recent interest rate hike could reduce the number of new lending, another mortgage specialist warned. Peter Brady, managing director, Sapphire Mortgage Services believes the recent rate rise will slow down new lending by as much as 15% to 20%. "Combined with home affordability and high petrol prices, it has now reached a level where people who were looking to get into the market will think twice before purchasing a property knowing they will struggle to meet repayments. "This will particularly impact on first homebuyers who often borrow a high percentage of the purchase price to get started," he said. The second rate hike in three months is also expected to impact affordability according to Phil Naylor, chief executive officer of Mortgage Industry Association of Australia. "The MIAA/ BankWest Consumer Finance research conducted in June (after the May increase) revealed that 17% of borrowers would feel uncomfortable if rates went up by 25 basis points, so we can assume from that about one in six existing borrowers will be under some pressure as a result of the recent increase."

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