New lending restrictions for Auckland property investors have been softened by the Reserve Bank, including exemptions for property owners who are carrying out leaky building repairs.

Proposed "speed limits" on lending to residential investors have also been relaxed slightly, and the start date for the measures has been delayed by a month.

In May, the Reserve Bank announced plans to introduce new loan-to-value (LVR) limits on lending to property investors in the Auckland Council area.

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New mortgage rules for Auckland investors: They must have 30 per cent deposit


The rules would require investors to have at least a 30 per cent deposit.

The bank reported back today on its consultation on the changes, which were designed to take the heat out of Auckland's property market.

In its report, the bank said its proposed 2 per cent speed limit for lending to Auckland residential property investors had been described as too restrictive.

It agreed to raise the limit to 5 per cent. This meant banks would be able to give a greater proportion of their lending to investors who had a house deposit which was lower than 30 per cent.

The Reserve Bank said around half of loans to Auckland investors were currently at LVRs above 70 per cent, so the new policy would still be effective.

Banks complained that the implementation of the changes would be complicated and that they needed more time to prepare.

In response, the Reserve Bank said the deadline for the new LVRs would be a month later, in November.

There were also concerns that the new rules could make it more difficult for property owners to carry our remediation work.


The Reserve Bank said it would create an exemption for "non-routine" maintenance of a home, which could cover leaky building repairs, seismic strengthening, or reconstruction after a fire or natural disaster.

The Reserve's Bank rationale for the changes was the high house price-to-income ratio in Auckland, which was unlike the rest of the country.

It noted that this was similar to other cities such as Hong Kong, Sydney and London, but these cities were larger and tended to have much lower interest rates.

"House prices to rents are also more elevated in Auckland than elsewhere in New Zealand," the report released today said.

"In the Reserve Bank's view, these developments increase the risk that Auckland house prices could fall relatively sharply in the future."

An analysis of the global financial crisis in the United States and Ireland suggested that loss rates were higher for investors during severe downturns.

In October 2013, the Reserve Bank introduced temporary limits on new residential mortgage lending.

Banks faced restrictions in their lending to home-buyers with a deposit of less than 20 per cent.

Reserve Bank deputy governor Grant Spencer will give an update on the bank's view of the property market in a speech on Monday.