28 Feb 2014

Low LVR mortgage lending plummets

4:07 pm on 28 February 2014

Mortgage lending to people with small deposits dropped to less than 5 percent of total new lending last month.

Statistics published by the Reserve Bank show loans made to people with deposits of less than 20 percent fell to 4.8 percent in January, down from 5.6 percent in December.

Foreign investors make up a small proportion of house buyers, so are not pushing up house prices - Housing Minister Nick Smith.

Foreign investors make up a small proportion of house buyers, so are not pushing up house prices - Housing Minister Nick Smith. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

In October, the central bank introduced restrictions on banks lending to people with low equity to help cool the housing market.

Low loan-to-value-ratio lending has fallen dramatically since the restrictions were introduced: in August it represented a quarter of total new mortgage lending by banks but January's figures show $3 billion of new lending, only $147 million of which was to people with less than a 20 percent deposit.

The Real Estate Institute reported in the middle of February that overall sales fell in January, while the pace of price rises slowed. In total about 4700 houses sold during January, a drop of 4 percent compared with the same month last year.

The institute said the median price rose 9 percent to $402,000, but that much of the increase was due to higher prices in Auckland.

Radio New Zealand's economics correspondent says January tends to be a quieter time for the real-estate industry, as people go on holiday.