More than 70,000 Kiwis have approached their bank for some form of mortgage relief, a tally of numbers from our major lenders shows.
Banks say they are being approached in large numbers by customers seeking to defer mortgage payments for six months or seeking to reduce payments to interest only.
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ANZ, New Zealand's biggest bank, said it had already received 14,000 applications for mortgage deferral under the joint Government-banks scheme announced before the lockdown started.
It has received a further 8000 applications for a move to interest only payments
After an initial surge of interest in home loan deferrals when they became available last week, the number of applications received has settled at about 2500 – 3000 a day, an ANZ spokesperson said.
"We have never seen anything like it at this sort of scale," ANZ CEO Antonia Watson said.
All the major banks said they had seen similar surges from customers seeking help on some kind of mortgage relief.
As of this morning Westpac had received approximately 15,500 requests for a mortgage repayment deferral or reductions to cover interest.
Roughly two-thirds of those were seeking payment deferrals, while the other third were looking at interest-only or payment reductions, a spokesperson said.
ASB said more than 9500 customers had deferred their home loan payments since March 20 when ASB launched its personal support package.
That number included the six-month deferral terms which were subsequently released on March 27, a spokesperson said.
A further 9000 ASB customers had changed their home loans to interest only during the same period.
BNZ said it had heard from 9200 customers seeking payment deferrals or reductions.
Kiwibank said it had heard from 10,000 home loan customers, with about 5000 specifically seeking mortgage assistance.
TSB has so far had discussions with around 3000 customers needing mortgage assistance.
Mortgage repayment deferrals mean affected customers who apply to their bank will not make principal and interest payments on their loans for up to six months.
The banks, Government and Reserve Bank have worked together to put the emergency measure in place and keep Kiwis in their homes.
But as interest is still added to their loan amount it could mean they end up taking longer to pay down the mortgage.
"We've been clear that home loan deferrals do add to the cost of a loan, and aren't for everyone," ANZ said in a statement. "As such, we assess what other options might be available before going down the deferral path."
Financial experts have also warned that deferral should only be used as a last resort.
Interest-only payments mean customers' payments are reduced to the lowest possible level, maintaining the mortgage by paying interest but deferring payment of the principal debt.