NZ Herald business editor at large

The Economy Hub: Time for new mortgage lending rules? Our experts can't agree


As the housing market continues to boom the Reserve Bank yesterday flagged the prospect of new mortgage lending restrictions - including income to debt ratios which might limit the amount people can borrow based on their earnings.

Independent economist Shamubeel Eaqub says it is time for the Bank to stop talking about it and it missed the chance to act yesterday.

"This is a crisis, house prices are 10 times incomes in Auckland to say there is no crisis is mad."

But EY's David Snell says the Bank was right to wait.

"I wouldn't say we are at a crisis point where we need a new tool - 4.5 times income is maximum you can borrow - I think that would be too blunt a stick to apply. Policy stability is important, consistency and not distorting the market unless there is clear case to do so."

Eaqub said he would ultimately prefer to see the Reserve Bank raising capital requirements for banks and let them choose where to lend.

"So for every they've got they can lend less money, that's the only way we can limit this incredible amount of new money coming into the economy."

The Reserve Bank yesterday highlighted housing and dairy debt as major risks to New Zealand's economy and indicated it is looking at the possibility of introducing new lending restrictions or tightening existing ones such as those on loan to value ratios (LVRs) in the Auckland market.

The Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler said debt-to-income restrictions could be one of the potential responses to rising house prices.

The restriction was used in the United Kingdom, where most buyers could not get a mortgage higher than 4.5 times their annual income.

The Government said it would not rule out new restrictions on house-buying which are tied to a buyer's income.

- NZ Herald

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NZ Herald business editor at large

Liam Dann is business editor at large at the New Zealand Herald. He has been a journalist for 20 years, covering business for the last 14 of them. He has also worked in the banking sector in London and travelled extensively. His passion is for Markets and Economics, because they are the engine of the New Zealand economy. He hosts The Economy Hub video show every Thursday.

Read more by Liam Dann

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