Challenge claims 20%

WA’S CHALLENGE Bank is claiming a 20 per cent market share in the local home loan market as the bank continues its recovery in this sector.

Challenge CEO Tony Howarth said following the bank’s strong finish to 1998, it was on track to take the number one spot between now and 2000.

Mr Howarth said the introduction of specialised lending centres and ‘home loan weekends’, where selected branches open over the weekend to receive loan applications, were instrumental in the bank’s market share growth. But the bank has been forced to increase fixed interest rates.

“The realities of wholesale interest rates have pushed us to increase rates across the board,” Mr Howarth said. “Still, an increasing percentage of customers are sticking to variable rates.

“With the slim possibility of the Reserve Bank lowering interest rates, many people are still hedging their bets that rates may fall,” he said.

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