ANZ leads the homefront in mortgage war

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2012
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GOOD NEWS: The 2013 mortgage war kicks off as ASB cuts its long-term rates.

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This year has been great for homeowners, who have benefited from flurries of home loan cuts as interest rates remain at record lows.

But what about the lenders who have been fiercely sparring for their attention?

All the major banks have now released their disclosure statements for the quarter just passed, which show how their mortgage books have coped with somewhat stale lending growth.

As most head into the new financial year, here's an indicator of who the winners and losers were in the three months to September 30:

1. ANZ BANK

The country's largest lender dominated the mortgage market in the September quarter, growing home loans by 1.7 per cent.

After securing more than $1 billion worth of fresh lending in the June quarter, the bank wasn't far off another cool billion - notching up a further $904 million of home loans.

The big question for ANZ is whether it will bleed valuable home-owning customers after the axing of its popular National Bank sister brand.

Rivals started trying to poach disgruntled customers within hours of the announcement in September, and a couple of weeks of frenzied advertising followed.

But the transition went seamlessly, and the early signs are that ANZ has been able to retain or even increase its market share.

The impact of the big merger should start to filter through in the December quarter.

The Numbers:

$53.46b of home loans

$904m increase in lending between the June and September quarters

30.2 per cent of total market share*

2. KIWIBANK

The little green bank still isn't making much cash for taxpayers, but it does provide excellent value through frequent needling of its bigger Australian cousins.

Kiwibank introduced several market-moving "special" mortgage rates throughout the year, such as a 4.99 per cent six-month fixed mortgage rate for customers with 30 per cent equity in July.

That competitive approach has been great for consumers and for the bank, which saw 1.5 per cent growth in residential lending in the last quarter.

The Numbers:

$11.8b of home loans

$171m increase in lending between the June and September quarters

6.7 per cent of total market share*

3. ASB BANK

ASB secured $318m worth of new residential lending in the three months to September, growing its books by 0.85 per cent. However, it was the only big bank to have gone backwards in the previous June quarter so is playing catch-up to some extent.

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The ASB was right in the thick of the rate-cut fray, competing vigorously with special deals and promotions.

At the start of the quarter it cut its special five-year fixed mortgage rate to the lowest it had been in three years. It followed that up with another "Olympic" special, again targeting longer term borrowers in the four-year range.

The other noteworthy change was a recent update to its broker network advising a change to its lending policies for the likes of apartments and lifestyle blocks.

By abandoning the one-size-fits-all approach it will be able to start lending flexibly in areas which have traditionally had strict loan-to-value ratio limits.

The Numbers:

$37.7b worth of home loans

$318m increase in lending between the June and September quarters

21.3 per cent of total market share*

4. BANK OF NEW ZEALAND

The BNZ saw modest lending growth of 0.74 per cent, with just over $200m of new loans on its books.

The bank's massive and mysterious "Money is good, Money is bad" campaign, which linked with products like its TotalMoney offset mortgage, was still under wraps during the September quarter, so it will be interesting to see if it has any direct impact.

The Numbers:

$28.1b worth of home loans

$207m increase in lending between the June and September quarters

15.9 per cent of total market share*

5. WESTPAC

Westpac sits at the bottom of the list with a measly 0.25 per cent growth, or $90m in new lending last quarter, but it is not likely to be worried.

The bank has mostly refrained from getting too caught up in the price-cutting and doesn't position as the cheapest home loan lender in the market.

A key project to watch will be the bank's HomeClub website, which it launched in conjunction with Trade Me in August.

The hook-up has the potential to funnel Trade Me house-hunters all the way through to mortgage pre-approval, but it remains to be seen how effective it will be in bolstering lending.

THE NUMBERS

$35.9 billion worth of home loans

$90 million increase in lending between June and September quarters

20.3 per cent of total market share*

*Data sourced from the Reserve Bank has been used to provide a reasonable proxy for calculating market share, but may not fit exactly with the banks' reported figures

- Fairfax Media

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