15 Dec 2020

Property investors not convinced by ANZ tightening lending

7:39 pm on 15 December 2020

Property investors do not think ANZ's moving to tighten lending to property investors will help other residential buyers - and some say the bank is just looking out for its own risk.

Sold sign outside a house in East Auckland

ANZ says changing its rules is a way to bring some balance back into the market (file image). Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

ANZ has announced it will now require residential property investors to have at least a 40 percent deposit, up from the current 30 percent.

The bank also called for big, bold and urgent action to dampen the housing market, warning that house prices could be due for a correction in the new year if they continued to rise as they had.

There are no changes to deposit requirements for other residential buyers, including first home owners.

Long-time property investor Olly Newland did not think one bank upping its restrictions by 10 percent would make a difference.

"If they are using other properties to put up a security, that 30 to 40 percent won't make much difference at all," Newland said.

"If there are groups of people coming together to buy investment properties, which is quite common, that will have even less of an effect."

He thought it would have unintended consequences.

"Property investors are necessary because when they get a property, they rent it out. If there are fewer investors, there will be fewer rentals, and that's where the problem lies."

When challenged on the fact that many renters wish to be in a home of their own, he said that was always the case and it was "a reality of the capitalist market that not everybody can own everything".

The housing crisis was one of supply, he said.

New Zealand Property Investors Federation president Sharon Cullwick said where there was a will, there was a way for property investors.

"Often we're at the mercy of the banks but there's always second-tier lenders that investors can go to. As long as there are options for property investors, they'll find options so they can carry on."

She did not buy that ANZ's move was simply the bank wanting to do right by first home buyers.

"It seems very unusual that the bank would try to balance first-home buyers getting into the market over investors.

"My take on that would be they are probably looking at their own risk involved in that and think its safer to invest in an owner-occupier property than an investment property.

She believed ANZ was looking at what was best for it over the economy.

ANZ managing director personal Ben Kelleher denied the move was related to risk or the bank's financial stability.

"We assess every customer on an affordability basis. This is about making home buying as accessible to everyone as possible. We are adjusting our settings to get that balance back."

Will other banks follow?

Corelogic senior housing economist Kelvin Davidson believed ANZ's move was a sign of things to come.

"Once that first mover has gone, we may see it from other banks as well," Davidson said.

"It may well be that this is where the Reserve Bank ends up anyway.

"Even if a bank doesn't want to do it they may have no choice because its mandated by the Reserve Bank."

Last time there was a 40 percent deposit requirement for investors was in 2017, he said.

That helped slash roughly 8 percent of investors' market share over a year - but all banks were involved.

It was hard to tell how much impact ANZ would have alone, Davidson said.

BNZ, KiwiBank and ASB told RNZ they would not be upping their restrictions for investors from 30 percent.

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