G BALACHANDAR | Published on April 04, 2018 | The Hindu Business Line
But delinquencies are also on the rise
CHENNAI: The share of home loans to THE self-employed has increased to a little less than a third of the overall housing loan portfolio of housing finance companies (HFCs) from one-fourth of the portfolio four years ago, points out a report of rating agency Crisil.
Primarily driven by the government impetus to affordable housing, there has been a big surge in the self-employed taking home loans. In the overall home loan portfolio of HFCs, the share of self-employed borrowers is about 30 per cent now when compared with about 20 per cent four years ago.
“Several initiatives of both the government and the regulator in the recent past have led to fast growth in home loans taken by the self-employed. We expect such mortgages to continue showing good growth because of the sharp focus of smaller HFCs and increasing interest of the larger ones,” said Krishnan Sitaraman, Senior Director, Crisil Ratings.
Loans to the self-employed segment have grown at a CAGR of about 33 per cent in the past four years, compared with 20 per cent for the overall home loan segment. Home loans outstanding in the self-employed segment are expected to have topped ₹2 lakh crore by the end of 2017-18. Though new, small and larger HFCs have been aggressively catering to the self-employed segment, banks are also strengthening their presence in the home loan segment due to subdued credit demand from corporates and asset quality pressures.
However, on the flipside, delinquencies are also rising in the self-employed segment. Gross non-performing assets (NPAs) in the segment are estimated to have inched up by 40 basis points to about 1.1 per cent by the end of 2017-18, compared with about 0.7 per cent a few years back. This trend, however, warrants caution because lending to the self-employed is largely based on assessed income. Additionally, a section of borrowers, who have a limited credit history or banking experience, are highly vulnerable to disruptions such as demonetisation, and see high volatility in cash flows in the event of exigency.
“The two-year lagged NPAs in the self-employed segment, at about 1.8 per cent, is much higher compared with about 0.6 per cent in the salaried segment, where the portfolio quality has remained largely stable over the years,” said Rama Patel, Director, Crisil Ratings.
Given that the self-employed segment is relatively riskier than the salaried segment, HFCs tend to demand higher yields to offset higher credit cost. Further, to surmount borrower data issues, HFCs are adopting practices such as offering lower loan-to-value ratio, higher in-house sourcing, and developing the expertise to assess un-documented income.
While financiers are adopting a risk-based pricing approach, long-term sustenance will depend on strong credit and underwriting practices, said the report.