Will the Reserve Bank remove loan-to-value ratio (LVR’s) mortgage restrictions in response to COVID-19?

Will reserve bank remove LVR restrictions

Big news from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand last week about LVR’s in the mortgage lending world as the Reserve Bank has given the main New Zealand lenders and banks a week’s notice that it plans to remove loan-to-value ratio (LVR) restrictions on their residential mortgage lending for at least a year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The primary reason behind the move to remove LVR’s is to continue to stimulate the economy in response to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.  LVR restrictions are limits on banks to reduce the amount of low-deposit mortgage lending they can do.  You can read more details about LVR’s here on our Guide to New Zealand LVR’s.

What are loan to value ratios?


The Reserve Bank says LVR restrictions are aimed at reducing the risks to financial stability from a severe correction in house prices. The restrictions were introduced in October 2013 in response to high levels of high-LVR mortgage lending, with policy settings adjusted since as risks have evolved.

"The current economic conditions resulting from the COVID-19 crisis have caused the Reserve Bank to consider the removal of LVR restrictions, given the counter-cyclical nature of the LVR policy. This action will also avoid any uncertainty around the implications of LVR limits from the mortgage deferral scheme. It is important that banks continue to provide support to borrowers during these extraordinary times," the Reserve Bank says in a letter to banks.

"The Reserve Bank intends to remove the LVR restrictions for a period of one year, until 1 May 2021. We have not yet determined what, if any, LVR limits will be needed in the future. This will be further considered ahead of the end of the 12 months, and will be consulted on as necessary."

Reserve Bank Deputy Governor and General Manager of Financial Stability Geoff Bascand says as is normal for changes to macro-prudential measures, the regulator is consulting with banks on its proposal, for seven days.

"Feedback will be collated from industry stakeholders over this period and a decision will be made promptly after that," says Bascand.

"The change, if effected, will be made via a change in bank Conditions of Registration. If the decision is made to remove the restrictions, the Reserve Bank will monitor lending activity and feedback from retail banks over the next 12 months as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic becomes clearer. After that period, we will review whether to reinstate LVR restrictions. This provides banks and customers certainty that no further changes to LVR requirements will be made for at least one year."

The Loan to Value Restrictions in NZ applies to NEW high-LVR loans, and not retrospectively to existing loans.  Existing borrowers are only affected if they want to take out a top up loan.

Stay tuned to Money Compare and we’ll let you know if the Reserve Bank announces the changes that could give you many more options on your mortgage and financing.

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Wednesday, 29 April 2020