Mortgage holidays set for extension

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson says the Reserve Bank could extend mortgage holidays for struggling borrowers.

By The Landlord

The finance minister believes extending mortgage holidays to help hard-up home loan customers would be "justified", as speculation grows the Reserve Bank will extend the original scheme, due to expire in September.

During the Covid-19 lockdown in March, the Reserve Bank, government and retail banks agreed a support package to grant payment deferrals or shifts to interest-only for six months, to help hard-up households.

As the six-month period nears its end, politicians are keen to avoid a spate of home loan defaults and are reviewing further breaks for those who have lost their jobs.

Robertson told Stuff: “The advice that I've had from the Reserve Bank is that they are considering looking at the extension of the mortgage deferral schemes – of the support that they give to enable the banks to provide those schemes – and I think judging from the conversations I've had with trading banks, that would be justified."

It comes as data shows borrowers are still requesting payment deferrals.

In the week to July 17, 887 loans were restructured to interest-only terms, while 407 requested complete payment deferrals.

While an extension of mortgage holidays will be welcomed by some struggling borrowers, advisers warn that clients must be aware of the consequences, with debt accumulating over the period leading to bigger loan balances.

Jeff Royle of iLender said complete deferrals were "in my view, the very last resort prior to considering selling".

He added: "Each borrower needs to seriously analyse their situation and discuss with professionals before making any decision."

Royle said clients in difficult circumstances should consider extending the term of their loan, a move to interest-only, downsizing, and reviewing their long-term chances of recovery.

However, understands that many residential property investors have done their best to avoid taking up a mortgage deferral.

In a survey of investors that we ran in May, a mere 6.57% of the respondents said they were planning to take a “mortgage holiday” for their investment properties.

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