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- Time to shop for better home loan rates
With some banks slashing rates and NHB removing the last hurdle to home loan portability, it has become feasible for borrowers to switch banks for lower interest rates. Here’s how to reduce your loan burden.
There’s good news on the home loan front. Last week, the country’s largest bank, State Bank of India (SBI), cut interest rates on its home loans, unleashing what appears to be a rate war. Indian Overseas Bank has followed suit. The catch here is that instead of bringing down the base rate, to which all home loans are linked and which would benefit both new and existing borrowers, banks are choosing to bring down just the spread, which means that only new borrowers stand to benefit. The interest rate on home loans has two main components—base rate and spread. Base rate is the rate below which the bank cannot lend, and spread is the margin based on customer- and productspecific factors. In the case of SBI, for instance, while the existing borrowers will pay 10.5% interest, of which 10% is the base rate and 0.5% is the spread, new borrowers will end up paying only 0.25% as spread, or 10.25% as interest rate.
So what can the existing borrowers do? Those who were lured by teaser loans at 8-8.5% in the past two years are in a quandary because their interest burden has increased to over 11.5% as the rates automatically switch to floating rate. To be sure, all loan takers are in the same boat given that the RBI raised its key rates 13 times between 2010 and 2011.
The best option available is to shop for the best loan rate. The National Housing Bank, the housing regulator, removed the last hurdle in complete home loan portability last week by revising its earlier decision, where it had said that dual rate loans (fixed for initial years) would be classified as fixed rate loans, if at the time of signing the contract the loan was subject to a fixed rate. A big chunk of home loans taken during 2009-11 comprised dual rate loans and the move is likely to benefit many borrowers as they are now switching to floating rate, which does not incur any prepayment penalty.
With the SBI signaling a rate war, home loan borrowers may finally be able to shift without paying a penalty. Of course, shopping for cheaper interest rates has been possible for a while now, but it wasn’t feasible because of the similar rates that most banks offered. This seems set to change now.
The first step to benefit from portability is to get over the inertia. Switching a home loan is not as Herculean a task as many think it to be. Just because a home loan is the biggest debt you have does not mean that the effort involved in moving it to another bank will be as great. The process is more detailed than small-ticket loans, but representatives from the new bank will help you through the process. The effort on your part would be limited to negotiating the best rate. However, keep in mind the remaining term of your loan before rushing headlong to switch. If your loan has less than 10 years to go, the benefit may not be as spectacular (see table). Also, when the interest rate is lowered, don’t reduce the EMI as this will mean a longer tenure and higher interest cost. Instead, bring down the tenure. If you don’t care to go rate shopping, try negotiating with your existing bank. You could also convert to the new rate being offered by your bank. Between two banks who offer you the same effective rate, choose the lender that offers you a lower spread above the base rate. Now, for the bad news.
Switching home loans, be it with a new bank or opting for a lower rate with your existing bank, involves costs and it’s best to decide after factoring them in. Most lenders charge a processing fee, which can range from 1-1.5% of the outstanding loan. The SBI’s existing borrowers can take advantage of the new rates only after paying a conversion fee of 1% of the outstanding loan. Some banks also levy a fixed processing fee of 5,000-10,000. Then there are hidden charges like legal fees which you need to watch out for.
With the approaching festive season, more and more banks are expected to start rolling out ‘special rates’, so keep an eye out for the best deal.
- Manoja, excellent information for the first timers.
I have experienced my self both the above posts wherein I have made sure my CIBL is excellent and i changed the bank to enjoy reduced intrests rates.CommentQuote0Flag
- What are the constrains if I am taking home loan for an under construction , but resale property..
And please let me know whether banks accepts post paid bill as address proof?CommentQuote0Flag
- Normally bank don't accept post paid bill of private operators , but surely accept BSNL land Line bill. They also accept Bank statement as address proof in addition to other standard ones like Driving license/Passport/Electricity bills etc.CommentQuote0Flag
- Teaser Home Loan Pre-Closure Fee Lifted
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come down heavily on banks for charging pre-payment penalty on dual-rate home loans, and has issued a circular banning such a penalty.
Earlier, RBI had barred banks from charging pre-payment penalty on floating-rate loans, which gave customers the incentive to shift their loans from one bank to another, to take advantage of the interest rate differential. The central bank said customers will be given the option to switch banks, and as banks are in abetter position to hedge interest rate as instruments are available to them, the interest risk should be borne by banks.
However, the previous RBI guidelines had not clarified if such alevy can be applicable on dual rate home loans.
According to central banking sources, some of the large banks were taking advantage of the lack of clarity and levying pre-payment penalty on dual rate home loan schemes — which are also known as teaser loan schemes. Interest rate on such loans is fixed during the initial years, after which the rate became floating as it gets linked to the base rate — the benchmark lending rate of banks.
Following a number of customer complaints that banks are charging the penalty on dual rate home loans, the regulator issued fresh guidelines to banks asking these to refrain from such activities.
The National Housing Bank, the regulator for housing finance companies, had also banned prepayment penalties on the dual rate loans.
Teaser loans were pioneered and popularised by State Bank of India in early 2009 to deploy excess liquidity. The scheme — a brainwave of former chairman O P Bhatt — helped the lender increase its market share in home and auto loans.
Other lenders had no option but to follow suit.
But the product had drawn flak from the RBI, which constantly asked the banks to withdraw the product. Finally, in order to discourage the product, the central bank increased standard asset provisioning requirement for teaser loans by five times to two per cent.
Teaser home loan pre-closure fee liftedCommentQuote0Flag
- How To Choose The Best Home Loan
Some aspects whose thorough study may help you grab the best deal for yourself:
Holiday period on EMIs
Mostly provided on the purchase of under-construction properties, a moratorium — also known as a holiday period — is a phase during which you do not have to start your repayment towards your home loan. In simple terms, it is the wait time before your repayment EMIs start. However, though you do not have to make any payment, the interest on the outstanding loan amount starts incurring. The objective of a moratorium is to provide you some time that you can use to build capital.
Most lenders in India provide a moratorium period of up to two years. You can always pre-check with your lender about this grace period, especially if you have cash flow issues. This time lag in loan repayment can be valuable for you in working towards constructing and enhancing your financial plans for your home loan.
Online account access
The digital world has made it possible for borrowers to conduct their borrowing activities without ever having to visit a brick-and-mortar bank location. Everything is just a click away — applying for a home loan, tracking the repayment accounts, evaluating home loan options in terms of interest rates and product facilities, and finding the details of EMI payments, etc. These days, banks also provide several services at your doorstep. When you decide on your lender, you must consider the quality and scope of the online services it provides.
Time taken for credit appraisal
The basic guidelines and credit-risk measures taken into account to sanction a home loan remain almost the same across banks. But, the bank that takes the shortest time to complete the procedures and formalities of sanctioning and disbursing the loan, should be on top of your list. In most cases, buyers have a pre-set time frame in their mind when they want to buy a property. The faster the things are done, the better. So, the swiftness with which a lender processes the loan should be an important criterion while choosing the right lender.
Easy pre-payment facility & nil foreclosure charges
Taking a home loan is a 20-30-year commitment. In this long duration, interest rates tend to move up and down. If you do not plan to switch your home loan to some other lender that offers better rates in the future, you must choose your home loan on the foundation of the pre-payment facilities being provided by a bank. In such a case, choose the bank that does not charge a penalty on loan pre-payment. The removal of foreclosure charges or pre-payment penalty ensures fair pricing of home loans with floating rates, and less discrimination between existing and new borrowers.
Flexi or hybrid home loans
If you are confused about which way to go -- fixed or floating -- consider going the flexi way. Opt for flexi or hybrid loans. A hybrid home loan is the fusion of fixed and floating rates of interest. There are many lenders in the market that are offering this type of loan. Under this product type, the lender charges a fixed lending rate during the initial years, where the amount of EMI remains the same. The floating rate of interest is charged on the outstanding loan amount for the remaining tenure.
Customised insurance schemes
Home loan insurance is a plan that covers the outstanding loan liability to hedge the risk of loss in case the borrower dies during the loan re-payment term. These policies offer a cover that reduces every year, as the loan amount comes down. A home loan insurance product can turn out to be very beneficial if you do not have ample funds for the home loan down payment (also known as margin money). But, you must also know that it is an added burden on your home loan EMI payments. So, choose the insurance scheme that meets your loan requirements, is friendly on your pocket and isn’t just the risk hedging tool for the lender.
No hidden charges
Though it is quite difficult to estimate the hidden charges involved in a home loan product, a detailed study of the loan product you are opting for may be quite helpful in finding out. Make sure that you read your loan contract carefully; you may have to read between the lines to find out the hidden costs you will incur on opting for a particular product. Do not sign the contract till the time you find that these costs are justifiable. If your income is steady and you have a high credit score, you can always bargain on these hidden charges.