Australia's fifth largest lender said the reduced rate will be offered for a limited time starting on 15 January - making St.George's offering some of the cheapest among Australian lenders. This also comes as the big four banks decided to increase rates on their fixed term mortgages. Before the rate cut, St.George was offering a three-year fixed term loan rate of 7.19% and a five-year term loan at 7.15%. According to Steven Heavey, general manager, third party and specialist distribution at St.George, the low rates are aimed at customers who want peace of mind and to avoid the fluctuations in interest rates. "Borrowers are nervous and are considering the benefits of fixed rates. By locking into fixed rate, borrowers protect themselves from interest rate rises and they get certainty on their monthly repayments, which allows them to budget with confidence. These rates are bound to help customers get a financial footing in 2007," he says. The lender's rate cut comes after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported a sharp decline in the number of dwelling commitments for owner-occupied housing. At the same time, the number of fixed-rate loans for owner occupiers continued to strengthen.

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