19 Sep 2013

RBA briefed on NZ lending restrictions

7:30 am on 19 September 2013

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has been briefed about New Zealand's new lending restrictions amid growing warnings that record low interest rates have the potential to fuel a property-price bubble across the Tasman.

In the minutes of its September meeting released on Wednesday, the central bank's board repeated warnings that banks have to be vigilant about their lending standards.

The RBA said the board was briefed on the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's loan-to-value ratios (LVR) to come into force next month.

The International Monetary Fund has also signalled that the current era of low inflation and low interest rates around the world had the potential to create a price bubble.

CLSA banking analyst Brian Johnson said the conditions for a bubble in the property market were becoming more evident in Australia.

"If you have a look at what is driving the spring surge in house prices, it's cumulative interest rate cuts from the Reserve Bank," he said.

"Over and above that, the banks have actually increased their discounts. Over and above that, the banks are actually paying increased commissions to brokers."

Most of the activity was coming from the investor market, with high LVR mortgages on an interest-only basis.

"If the combination of all those facts doesn't drive up house prices, nothing ever will, but the risk is increasing."

Mr Johnson expected regulator APRA to intervene quietly with the banks rather than impose tough rules.