If you’re in the process of buying a home, it’s important to familiarise yourself with stress test rates. These rates are a significant consideration when it comes to obtaining a mortgage and can impact your ability to qualify for a loan. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what stress test rates are and why they are relevant when buying a home.

What are stress test rates?

In simple terms, stress test rates are a measure used by lenders to assess a borrower’s ability to handle potential interest rate increases during the term of the mortgage. These tests are designed to determine if borrowers can afford their mortgage payments, even if interest rates rise in the future. Stress test rates are typically higher than the actual interest rates being offered by lenders, ensuring that borrowers can still afford their mortgage payments even if rates increase.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the country’s central bank, has implemented various measures to regulate the housing market, including stress test rates. Lenders in New Zealand are required to assess borrowers’ ability to repay their loans at higher interest rates than the current market rates. This means that even if you qualify for a mortgage based on the current interest rates, you must also prove that you can afford higher rates, as determined by the stress test.

So why are stress test rates relevant when buying a home?

Here are a few key reasons:

  1. Loan eligibility: Stress test rates can impact your loan eligibility. If you are unable to pass the stress test, it may affect your ability to obtain a mortgage, as lenders may be hesitant to approve a loan that you may struggle to repay in the event of interest rate increases. It’s crucial to factor in the stress test rates when assessing your borrowing capacity and determining how much you can afford to borrow.
  2. Budgeting and affordability: Stress test rates play a crucial role in assessing the affordability of a mortgage. They ensure that borrowers can comfortably handle their mortgage payments even if interest rates rise. By factoring in stress test rates, you can create a realistic budget and avoid overstretching your finances. It’s important to be financially prepared for potential interest rate increases during the term of your mortgage.
  3. Long-term financial stability: Buying a home is a long-term financial commitment, and stress test rates are designed to safeguard borrowers against potential financial strain in the future. They provide a buffer against interest rate fluctuations, ensuring that you can continue to meet your mortgage payments over the term of your loan. It’s important to consider your long-term financial stability and factor in stress test rates to make informed decisions when buying a home.
  4. Financial planning: Stress test rates also highlight the importance of financial planning. As a prospective homebuyer, it’s crucial to have a solid financial plan in place that considers potential interest rate increases. This may involve setting aside an emergency fund, budgeting for higher mortgage payments, or considering fixed-rate mortgages that offer more stability against potential rate increases. Financial planning can help you navigate the impact of stress test rates and ensure that you are financially prepared for homeownership.

In conclusion, stress test rates are a relevant and significant consideration when buying a home. They are implemented to ensure borrowers can afford their mortgage payments even in the face of potential interest rate increases. By factoring in stress test rates, you can assess your loan eligibility, budget realistically, plan for the long term, and ensure your financial stability as a homeowner. 

It’s essential to work closely with a qualified mortgage advisor or financial professional to understand stress test rates and their impact on your home buying journey. Being financially prepared and informed can help you make wise decisions and achieve your dream of owning a home.


Everything shared in this blog post is general financial advice. For financial advice tailored to you, please book a meeting with us.