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ANZ’s retail boss says lending curbs not imminent

ANZ’s retail banking boss Mark Hand says restrictions on home lending are not imminent but could be an option in slowing down sky-rocketing property prices.

The New Zealand government has introduced a number of reforms to slow surging property prices, including removing tax incentives for investors and forcing buyers to stump up bigger deposits. Meanwhile, the former head of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) Jeff Carmichael said earlier this month the regulator was likely considering credit curbs and could make an intervention in the next six to 12 months.

Mr Hand said the banking industry was not in active negotiations with APRA over any new rules, but said the situation could change if the regulator felt the need to cool down the fastest growth in house prices since 2003.

ANZ group executive Mark Hand says new rules to curb home lending would not be foreign for the bank.

ANZ group executive Mark Hand says new rules to curb home lending would not be foreign for the bank. Credit:Paul Jeffers

“I think they [APRA] will be responsible in whatever does come in, it will be intended to make sure the wrong people don’t get into too much debt,” Mr Hand said. “We’re not concerned about what might happen, but when it comes along, if it does, we will just respond to that.”

Mr Hand said “it wouldn’t be foreign to us” to have the brakes put on the property market, as the regulators did in 2014 and 2017.

“A few years ago, there were caps on how much interest-only lending we could do. So it wouldn’t be the first time the regulator has put in some requirements in attempt to slow demand.”

However, he said it was too early to tell if the NZ regulation had been effective and there could be unintended consequences of new rules, such as putting controls around loan to value ratios (LVR).

“The danger is … [LVR] it favours the people who have got more money because they can borrow less, it doesn’t necessarily help with people trying to get into the property ladder.”

Mr Hand said he was not overly concerned about the heat in the property market, adding it was a “supply issue primarily” that would correct as more properties start to come on the market.

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