Tamsyn Parker

Money Editor for NZ Herald

Major banks yet to spell out changes in lending for new homes

The Reserve Bank exemption allows new rules for low equity borrowers. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Reserve Bank exemption allows new rules for low equity borrowers. Photo / Dean Purcell

Banks are still finalising how they will deal with the Reserve Bank's exemption for home-building loans to those with low deposits more than a month after it was brought in.

On December 10 the central bank said building loans would be excluded from the 10 per cent cap on banks' new lending to low equity borrowers.

The change was fiercely lobbied for by the building industry, which claimed the October 1 crackdown on low deposit lending was driving new-home builders away and preventing an increase in housing supply.

But banks have yet to announce any changes to their approach..

Mortgage broker Bruce Patten said he had received a lot of inquiries from people asking how the exemption affected them and whether it meant they could now borrow money.

"But we are yet to see any real policy announcements from the banks."

Patten said Westpac already did 90 per cent loans on new builds but it was standard practice that most of the major banks only lent above 80 per cent for new builds on a case-by-case basis.

Shaun Drylie, general manager product and strategy at the ASB, said the bank had been "assessing a range of options to make funding new build projects simpler and easier" since the Reserve Bank's decision. But it had yet to finalise anything.

"We certainly encourage any customers to talk to us about their requirements if they are considering a new build project."

A spokeswoman for the BNZ said it had been in contact with building companies to discuss the new rules and how it could assist them and bank customers through the construction process.

"Based on these discussions we are close to announcing a great offer for our home-under-construction customers."

An ANZ spokesman said the bank's door had always remained open for new lending over the 80 per cent loan to value ratio, including some construction lending.

"We've honoured all our pre-approvals and continue to approve new applications with lower equity."

He said the bank was continuing to explore options.

"We're continuing to work with the Reserve Bank and will keep exploring any additional options to help more Kiwis into new homes."

The Reserve Bank introduced restrictions on high-debt mortgage lending in a bid to cool rising house prices, driven by shortages in Auckland and Christchurch, on concern that a house-price bubble could cause financial instability.

The Reserve Bank is in the process of consulting with the banks on the operation of the new home building exemption. Submissions on the proposed change close on February 14.

- NZ Herald

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