The Bank's Financial Policy Committee said that from October, it
would only allow 15 percent of new mortgages to be at multiples
higher than 4.5 times a borrowers' income.
Britain's housing market has seen a stellar recovery thanks to
record-low interest rates, falling unemployment and
But policymakers have become increasingly concerned about momentum
in the housing market, with prices growing at around 10 percent
annually in Britain and at nearly double that rate in London where
cash buyers from abroad are also fuelling demand.
"(These measures) will prevent lending getting too far ahead of
income growth and they'll prevent a slide into riskier lending and
higher indebtedness that could undermine the economic expansion over
the medium term," BoE Governor Mark Carney said at a news conference
to present the measures.
Share prices in British house building companies rose by more than 5
percent after markets judged the measures were less harsh than
feared, and British government bond prices hit a day's low as Carney
said the measures would not affect rates.
"They're less likely to have implications for the path of monetary
policy which currently anticipates limited and gradual rate rises
over the forecast horizon," he said.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders said the steps were more likely to
affect lending in London - where almost a fifth of loans are at
loan-to-income ratios above 4.5 - than in the rest of the country,
where the cap would affect less than 10 percent of loans.
"Additional housing supply to help correct the imbalance between
supply and demand is the main way of relieving affordability
pressure and household indebtedness attributable to mortgage
borrowing over the long term," the CML said.
The cap will affect all banks which lend more than 100 million
pounds ($170 million) a year, and finance minister George Osborne
said the measures will apply to all loans under the government's
Help to Buy scheme, which guarantees high loan-to-value mortgages.
The BoE has said it does not aim to curb house prices directly, but
instead it is focused on ensuring that lending does not get out of
control. It has warned that mortgage conditions appear to be getting
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"This is the limits of our tolerance and that's why there is a cap
in place. We will evaluate, if we need to recalibrate, we will,"
The FPC also recommended affordability tests introduced in April
should be toughened.
Borrowers will from Thursday have to show they can repay the home
loan even if interest rates rise 3 percent, compared with at least 1
Interest rates are currently at a record low of 0.5 percent,
although markets expect a rise by the end of the year or early next
The Bank of England said the immediate impact of the cap would be
minimal since most lenders currently lend within this 4.5 times
limit and are likely to continue to do so. It said the measure was
intended to be an insurance against greater momentum in the housing
The move is the latest in a series of efforts by policymakers to
cool the housing sector, which have already weighed on mortgage
approvals in recent months.
The Bank's Prudential Regulation Authority also said the top eight
British banks must maintain a core capital buffer of 7 percent, and
a leverage ratio of 3 percent.
(Additional reporting by David Milliken, Andy Bruce and Kate Holton;
Editing by Catherine Evans)
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