Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pay less upfront to get a home loan Assetventures

Mr X (name changed), who works in the chemical industry, can now afford to buy his dream home, thanks to banks lowering down-payment for home loans.
When he first inquired with his bank, he learnt that to avail of a loan for a house worth Rs53-55 lakh, he needed to shell out Rs10.6 lakh (roughly 20% of the value of the house); the loan amount would be the remaining Rs42.4-44.4 lakh.

A week back, he visited his bank again and found that the down-payment requirement had come down to Rs7.95 lakh, or 15% of the value of the house.

Till sometime ago, banks were cautious about home loans as property prices had been falling. They wanted a higher cushion by way of higher down payment. The cushion is called margin in banking terms. On a property worth Rs20 lakh, a bank would extend a loan 15-30% lower than the value to ensure that in case the borrower defaulted, and the price of the property fell, the bank could sell the property and recover the dues.

"The situation is better now as property prices are reasonably stable. At most other places, except Mumbai, prices have not gone up beyond 10%. Because of the reasonable prices, LTV (loan to value, or the percentage of property value financed by a bank) has started slightly moving upward," said Kamlesh Rao, executive vice president and business head, personal finance, Kotak Mahindra Bank.

home loan down-payment requirements were increasing, sometimes as high as 30% of a property's value, as realty prices were coming down. But Rao said that down payment is decreasing only in cases of ready property or where a flat will be under possession in six-nine months. In a survey of 11 banks, nine banks would provide 80% of a property's value as loan and one 85% to first-time borrowers.

An agent from a leading private sector bank told that the bank would provide 85% of a property's value as loan. "But I can get it for you with stamp duty and registration cost. If you consider that, the amount will almost be 100% of your property value," he said.

It is learnt that public sector banks such as the State Bank of India, Indian Bank, Bank of India and the Punjab National Bank have lowered down-payment levels to 15-20% from up to 30% till recently.

This was not the case a few months ago, when nobody was sure when the fall in property prices would stall.

RR Nair, director and chief executive, LIC Housing Finance, said: "We are having it (down payment) at 15%. When property prices were down, we had not officially reduced the margin (the percentage to be paid by the borrower). But we were cautious about appraising the property. Depending upon the quality of the property and the project, there was a call taken (on the margin). So, right now we don't have to officially change the margin."

Some banks and non-banking finance companies are adopting a wait-and-watch strategy. Sanjay Shukla, business head (mortgage), Tata Capital Housing Finance, said: "Real estate firms were holding up the price and hence sales were not happening. After Dussehra, there have been some sales. The loan to value from the customer's point of view is 80-85%, depending on his or her credit profile."

But some bankers want to avoid a situation where home buyers overreach. CS Jain, executive director (head of personal banking), IDBI Bank, said: "We have retained the down payment at 20% (from 15% earlier). We haven't rolled it back and are not planning to reduce it yet."

The Housing Development Finance Corporation is one of the financers that did not change down payment amounts during the tough phase and so haven't changed now. Keki Mistry, vice president and managing director, HDFC, said: "Nothing was changed last year and nothing has been changed now."

British firm to host India property show Assetventures

With the global economy looking up, a London-based firm plans to host a property show to showcase residential projects in India to British investors.

The event, organised by real estate agent Hamptons International, will be held Oct 30-Nov 1 at the firm's head office in London.

"India has always been a major market for Hamptons International, given the UK's long and close ties with this country," said company international sales manager Dean Foley.

"We have certainly seen, over the last few months, an upturn in the amount of transactions completing by our UK NRI (non-resident Indian) clients due in part to long term growth plans and affordable real estate," Foley said.

The event has been organised in partnership with leading developers including Emaar MGF, Spire Edge, Ansal, ANR Infrastructure, Santa Fe Realty and Godrej.