Home Loan Rates Increases Tends to Increase Home Prices

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: A 25 basis point rise in key interest rates by the Reserve Bank of India on Thursday is likely to further lower home sales across the country, some builders and bankers said in the midst of increase in bank rates. Customers will now have to reconsider the size and locations of houses they wish to purchase and many buyers are expected to put off their purchases altogether till home prices come down and rates stabilise. This is certainly bad news for existing home loan consumers as banks will certainly increase home loan rates.

Purchasing capacity had already gone down visibly during the last tranche of interest rate hikes, and we will see a further reduction in buyer interest. Owing to the last 10 rate hikes by RBI, EMIs for housing loans have risen 25 percent to INR980 per INR 1 lakh of borrowing, and consequently loan eligibility for homebuyers has declined by 20percent. Anil Kothuri, head of retail lending business at Edelweiss Group says, “Housing finance companies have no wriggle room available.” For new home loan seekers, this will be big warning, not just because of the rate hike but also because of the frequency of the rate hike by RBI. “The person who is looking to purchase a home has the option, of buying or not buying. Existing home loan customers are stuck. However, of the opinion of Renu Sud Karnad, Managing Director of HDFC, is that this quarter percentage hike will not impact housing demand and loan off-take.

Cheaper loan for hotels

As per the draft guideline released by RBI, bank loans to entrepreneurs for acquiring real estate for their business would not be classified as commercial real estate (CRE) exposure. Currently, bank loans to companies for acquiring real estate for hotels and hospitality are treated as CRE exposure and attract a risk weight of 100 percent. Depending on the risk weight, banks are required to set aside capital for loans. Under RBI norms, banks’ capital-adequacy ratio, a measure of financial strength expressed as the ratio of capital to risk-weighted assets, is 9 percent. This means that for loans carrying 100 percent risk weight, banks need to set aside Rs9 worth of capital for every hundred rupees they lend. If these projects are not treated as CRE, their risk weights would vary according to the ratings of the borrower or the ratings of the project for which the loan would be given.
Param Desai, a research analyst with Mumbai-based brokerage Angel Broking Ltd, said, “These guidelines, if implemented, will make it easier for borrowers to get construction finance for a larger variety of projects. Construction finance has been a major concern for most developers during the downturn because most banks are cagey to lend to projects, unless they have a definite action plan and deadline to finish.”