ET CONTRIBUTORS | By Raj Khosla | Mar 12, 2018, 02.30 PM IST | Economic Times
Major banks and housing finance companies have raised their lending rates. Whenever home loan rates are hiked, borrowers want to know whether they should prepay their loans to save on interest. In the past, there was no clear answer because there were several investment opportunities that could yield better returns than the interest paid on the home loan.
Not any longer. Stock markets are looking jittery, fixed deposits are tax-inefficient and debt funds are giving poor returns. If a penny saved is a penny earned, prepaying a home loan may be the best investment option available. Where else can you get 8.5% assured ‘returns’ on the surplus cash? Another compelling reason to rework the math and at least partially repay your home loan is the new tax rule that caps the deduction on home loans at Rs 2 lakh a year. If you have a large home loan running, you would do well to make partial prepayments as soon as you can.
There are some obvious benefits of foreclosing a long-term loan. The longer the tenure, the higher is the interest outgo. Just like long-term investments build wealth for you, longterm debt burdens you with high interest. Yet, a long-term loan may be unavoidable in some circumstances. A young person who has just started working may not be able to afford a large EMI. The loan tenure would have to be increased so that the EMI fits his pocket.
In such situations, borrowers are advised to go for a ballooning repayment, where the EMI increases every year in line with an increase in the income. This can have a dramatic impact on the loan tenure. If you take a home loan of Rs 50 lakh at 8.5% for 20 years, the EMI will be Rs 43,391. But a 5% increase in the EMI every year will end the loan in 12 years and two months. If you tighten your belt a bit and increase the EMI by 10% every year, you can become debt-free in less than 10 years (see grphic)
Pay off a 20-year loan in less than 10 years
Hiking the EMI every year reduces the tenure drastically.
Contrary to what T.S. Eliot said, April is not the cruellest month. Any salaried individual will vouch for this. While annual increments are something to celebrate, people with large outstanding debts should also try and increase their EMIs in line with the increase in income. In a few weeks, they will also get their annual bonuses. At least some of that should be used to prepay the home loan.
Reducing your outstanding debt or closing the loan is naturally a psychological boost. It gives the individual a sense of financial freedom.
Some people argue that prepaying the home loan robs the individual of liquidity. That’s not correct. Several banks offer home loans with an overdraft facility that allows the borrower to withdraw money as and when he needs it. Though overdraft facilities normally entail annual maintenance charges, home loan overdraft facilities are exempt from this charge. It’s also a good idea to use a loan against property to repay other costlier loans. For instance, an unsecured personal loan that charges 18-20% can be replaced with a loan against property that costs 8.5%.
(Author is founder and managing director, Mymoneymantra.com)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of http://www.economictimes.com.