Approvals dropping after 20% deposit rule.

There are early signs the Reserve Bank's lending restrictions are cooling the home loan market but it may be months before the full impact is known, says an analyst.

Weekly figures released by the central bank show the value of home loan approvals dropped below $1 billion in the last week of October - the first time since July.

A total of $932 million of loans were approved in the week ending November 1 - down 26 per cent on the same week in 2012.

The number of loans approved was also down 26 per cent on the same week last year, dropping from 7078 to 5229.


The Reserve Bank introduced new lending restrictions on banks at the start of October. The restrictions mean banks must cap new lending with equity of less than 20 per cent to a maximum of 10 per cent of the total.

Banks which do not meet the new rules face losing their licence.

Christian Hawkesby, director fixed interest at Harbour Asset Management, said his initial assessment was that mortgage approvals had cooled off.

"On the face of it the numbers are on a downward trend consistent with the intention of the Reserve Bank's loan to value policy."

But Hawkesby said it would be difficult to get a clear picture of the impact because there was a time lag between the policy being announced in August and coming into force in October and because there were a certain number of pre-approvals still being worked through.

"It's not until December/January we will get a good read on it," he predicted.

The Reserve Bank compares the data on rolling 13-week periods and annually to smooth out seasonal and weekly anomalies.

The number of loans approved fell 4.1 per cent comparing the 13 weeks to November 1 with the same period last year.


Year on year the number of loans was up 4 per cent but the growth has been trending down all year.

In the week before the new lending rules were introduced the number of loans was up 7.8 per cent. Meanwhile, the value of lending was up just 2.1 per cent in the 13 weeks to November 1 compared with the same period last year.

For the 12 months to November 1 the value was up 10 per cent compared with the previous year. It reached a peak of 40 per cent in November last year and has been trending downwards since then.

Hawkesby said that increase was part of the driving force behind the Reserve Bank's decision to introduce lending restrictions.

He said that anecdotally banks appeared to have significantly pulled back on lending but once they got their heads around the new policy they would probably start "pushing the boundaries" again.