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New Zealand to tighten lending further as housing crisis worsens

08/02/2021 | 05:34pm EDT

* RBNZ proposes to tighten high LVR lending to owner-occupiers

* RBNZ to consult on DTI restrictions and/or interest rate floors

* Plans to introduce changes from October



Aug 3 (Reuters) - New Zealand's Central Bank said on Tuesday it plans to tighten mortgage lending further, as measures introduced earlier this year to control an inflated housing market and limit risky borrowing have had little impact.

Investors have continued to buy properties, buoyed by historically low interest rates and cheap access to capital from the government's pandemic-inspired stimulus spending.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) said on Tuesday that it plans to tighten mortgage lending further by lowering high loan-to-value ratio (LVR) lending and implementing debt-to-income (DTI) restrictions or interest rate floors. It aims to introduce the measures in October.

LVR is a measure of how much a bank lends against mortgaged property, compared with the value of that property. Borrowers with LVRs of more than 80% are often considered as stretching their financial resources.

The bank had lifted LVR restrictions on mortgage lending in April last year to spur credit and boost the pandemic-hit economy, but reinstated the curbs in March after the housing market accelerated rapidly.

"We are particularly concerned about those who have borrowed in the past 12 months at high LVRs and high DTIs," RBNZ Deputy Governor Geoff Bascand said in a statement.

"We've already made adjustments to LVR restrictions to partially manage this risk, but we haven't seen a sufficient reduction in risky lending," he said.

RBNZ said it proposes to restrict the amount banks can lend above an LVR of 80% to 10% of all new loans, down from 20% presently. (https://bit.ly/3rPwEH1)

"There is no silver bullet to housing affordability and monetary and fiscal policy need to work together to achieve a sustainable housing market,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in welcoming RBNZ's plans.

House prices in New Zealand have risen the most among OECD nations, posing the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The property boom has continued despite the government slapping taxes on property investors.

The government also asked RBNZ earlier this year to have regard for its housing policy while deciding on monetary policy.

New Zealand's Human Rights Commission launched an inquiry on the housing crisis this week, calling it a human rights crisis. (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Dan Grebler)

ę Reuters 2021
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