First-home buyers will be among those hardest hit by tough new restrictions on who banks can lend money to, but the New Zealand government says there will be positive effects for other parts of the economy.
Banks will be restricted in the number of new mortgages they approve where the loan-to-value ratio (LVR) is greater than 80 per cent, Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler announced on Tuesday.
No more than 10 per cent of the value of new lending can be made up from high LVR mortgages.
Mr Wheeler is bringing in the measure because of exposure fears for the banking system and economy if the housing market crashes.
The restrictions come into force on October 1 and will remain in place until the housing market rebalances and their removal would not set it off again.
The restrictions will make it harder for first-home buyers and other property purchasers with small deposits to get into the housing market.
However, Finance Minister Bill English is downplaying that aspect.
“First-home buyers have always had a pretty hard job to get the house they want. In some cases, it’s going to take a bit longer as they build up their deposit,” he says.
Mr English says the restrictions will have positive impacts elsewhere.
“As the governor’s pointing out today, if he doesn’t bring in these restrictions, one alternative is that he lifts interest rates, and that would not be good for first-home buyers either.
“He’s making a decision he believes is going to keep interest rates lower for longer, keep our banking system stable. Those seem to be reasonable objectives, but there can be differences of opinion about how to achieve them.”
Mr English says freeing up more land to get more houses built will make property more accessible for first-home buyers, and that is what the government is focusing on.
At its conference earlier this month, National announced adjustments to KiwiSaver and the Welcome Home Loan scheme to make it easier for first-home buyers to get into the overheated property market.