Finance Finance News RBA backs APRA on property rules

RBA backs APRA on property rules

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The Reserve Bank says there’s no need to implement tough New Zealand-style property rules to help keep a lid on Sydney and Melbourne’s housing boom.

The New Zealand government recently announced a number of new property market rules in a bid to cool house prices in Auckland, including a 33 per cent tax on any property bought or sold within two years.

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Asked if similar macro prudential rules were needed to rein in house prices in Sydney and Melbourne, RBA deputy governor Philip Lowe on Wednesday backed the current regime and regulatory approach.

He said the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s recent actions, including a review of bank lending standards for property investors, were having a positive effect.

“We follow these issues very carefully,” Mr Lowe told the Thomson Reuters Australian Regulatory Summit.

“APRA’s approach is one that I think has a lot of merit.

“They have embedded in their micro-prudential supervision a macro-prudential perspective.

“They haven’t got this further layer of macro-prudential tools we see in other countries, it’s really bedded into their supervisory processes.”

His comments follow moves by the big four banks to tighten guidelines for lending to housing investors, either by making loans tougher to get or more expensive.

APRA wrote to lenders in early December warning lenders not to increase investor loans by more than 10 per cent a year.

The RBA’s seasonally-adjusted measure of investor housing loan growth shows the pace slowed to an annualised rate of 10 per cent in the first three months of 2015.

Mr Lowe said property prices were on the rise, household debt was high, and income growth had slowed, suggesting that banks were now in a more risky position.

“My subjective assessment is that the level of risk in banks’ mortgage portfolios has risen over the last couple of years,” he said.

“In that environment it’s entirely appropriate that APRA has a very close dialogue with financial institutions … to make sure there are plenty of buffers there in case things don’t turn out so well.”

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