Property prices expected to maintain despite LVR restrictions

By Anan Zaki for RNZ

The restrictions on the property market are getting tougher as loan to value ratio restrictions come into place.

From today, the amount of lending banks can make to owner-occupiers with small deposits, will be halved to no more than 10 percent.

But despite the tougher lending conditions, one mortgage broker said people shouldn't expect an immediate cooling down for property.

The Reserve Bank's move means fewer people with a house deposit of 20 percent or less will get bank finance.

Now, banks can only apportion ten percent of their lending to that higher loan to value ratio.

John Bolton from mortgage broker Squirrel said there will still be options for low deposit holders.

"Bear in mind that new builds are exempt, and if you think about a lot of the first home buyer activity these days, it's actually new builds, off plan, terraced housing, apartments and maybe small houses in some of these new subdivisions."

LVR lending restrictions are already tighter for investor loans.

The Reserve Bank policy is designed to rein in risky lending among first home buyers who might borrow too much while interest rates are low.

But Bolton said the new rules won't halt the summer sales.

"If you look at the market at the moment, it's still pretty hot out there and I think most people sort of feel that when New Zealand gets through this latest run of Covid and we come out of restrictions, there'll be a bit of a surge, as it has been in the past because there's clearly a lack of property on the market at the moment.

"I think it's helping keep prices quite elevated."

The ANZ bank's latest housing market report says house price inflation remains elevated but is slowing.

Its chief executive Antonia Watson said the LVR restrictions are just one part of ensuring stability in the financial system.

"It's one tool in the toolbox, I mean our mortgage portfolio is stronger than it's ever been. We've got a very low portion of our book at higher than 80 percent LVR and even though the rate that the speed limit has been reduced to 10% we haven't been writing much over 10 percent anyway."

Watson said customers taking up high LVR loans need to be aware of what they're getting into, and that they can definitely afford the repayments.

The chief property economist at CoreLogic, Kelvin Davidson, said while LVR's should take effect, it's the rising cost of mortgage payments that will have a bigger impact.

"To date the LVR has probably have been the biggest restraints certainly for investors and going to kick in soon for owner occupiers. So, probably up until now, they've definitely been the bigger influence.

"But going forward from here, mortgage rates definitely a key consideration for everybody. I think that they're already rising probably faster than what people might have thought even a month or so ago."