UPDATE 1-New Zealand home loan rules have eased price pressures - RBNZ

Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:01am EDT

(Adds detail, background)

* RBNZ lending limits worth up to 50 bps of rate rises

* Lending limits eased pressure on NZ dollar

WELLINGTON, March 27 (Reuters) - New Zealand limits on low deposit, high risk home loans have been effective in reducing overall inflation pressures, taking some of the heat off the central bank to raise official interest rates, a central bank official said on Thursday.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand earlier this month raised its official cash rate (OCR) by 25 basis points to 2.75 percent, and Deputy Governor Grant Spencer said the lending limits are easing inflation pressures.

"The dampening effect of (loan-to-value ratios) on house price inflation is estimated to have reduced CPI inflation pressures by an amount equivalent to a 25-50 basis point increase in the OCR," he said in speech notes to a Hong Kong investment conference.

"In this respect, the LVR restrictions may have reduced current pressures on the NZD exchange rate."

The RBNZ imposed a 10 percent limit on banks' low deposit-high value lending to customers with less than a 20 percent deposit for a house last October.

The measures are aimed at cooling the housing market, which has been at record levels, and reduce risk to the financial system from a potentially sharp downturn.

Latest figures from the RBNZ showed high LVR lending, after exemptions, had fallen to 4.2 percent of banks' total mortgage lending in February from about 25 percent before the restrictions.

Spencer said the lending limits were not intended to be permanent, and with the RBNZ having started to raise rates, they could be eased or eventually removed.

For the full speech, go to here (Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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