Home loan approvals worth NZ$710.5 million were granted by banks in the week to February 19, which was down 25% from the equivalent week a year ago, Reserve Bank data shows. Approvals in the 13 weeks to February 19 were down 12.6% from the same period a year ago, which was an acceleration in the fall from the 8.7% decline seen for the 13 weeks to February 12, the data shows. This data suggests banks are being more cautious about lending to home buyers and/or home buyers are being more cautious about buying. The Mexican Standoff in the housing market is solidly in place as listings rise sharply while sales volumes are down sharply. Banks face growing international regulatory restrictions on their ability to leverage shareholder capital and a tightening of Reserve Bank rules on their ability to find cheap short term funds offshore.