By Sunil Dhawan, ET Online | Updated: Apr 05, 2018, 06.29 PM IST | Economic Times
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may have kept the repo rate unchanged at 6 percent in its first bi-monthly review for the financial year, but it would be premature for home loan borrowers to rejoice.
This is because equated monthly instalments (EMIs) on loans may still go up as some banks have already increased their marginal cost-based lending rates (MCLR) over the last month owing to rising cost of funds. Repo rate was last cut in August 2017 when it was reduced by 0.25 percent.
“In the current interest rate cycle, we have touched the lowest level and it will come as no surprise if the cycle turns. Against this background, the impetus for stimulating housing demand does not lie on interest rate alone but on other reforms and steps taken by various stakeholders. Measures such as implementation of RERA in true letter and spirit, palatable payment plans for home buyers and relatively cheaper house prices are some of the critical determinants to revive the real estate sector. Until such time the benefits of these measures percolate across markets, the sector will continue to reel under pressure,” says Shishir Baijal, Chairman & Managing Director, Knight Frank India.
All bank loans, including home loans, taken after April 1, 2016, are linked to a bank’s MCLR and any rise in it will push the interest rate higher. As things stand today, the interest rate appears to either remain stagnant or there exists a remote possibility for them to move up in the near term. Unless liquidity in the system improves and inflation is well under RBI’s target, borrowers, both existing and new, will have to make do with a high interest rate regime.
At a home loan rate of 8.4 percent, the EMI on a Rs 1 lakh loan for 15 years comes to Rs 979. If the rate is increased by by 100 basis points (or 1 percent), the EMI will go up to Rs 1038 — a difference of Rs 59 or about 6 percent increase.
Interestingly, State Bank of India, the country’s top lender by assets, had increased its MCLR across most maturities in March. SBI also raised the 1-year MCLR to 8.15 percent from 7.95 percent, other lenders like ICICI Bank and Punjab National Bank, followed suit and raised their MCLR, albeit by a slightly lower magnitude of 15 basis points. Other banks may hike their MCLR too, and thus EMIs may rise.
When base rate fails
It is important to note that several loans taken before April 1, 2016 which are still linked to base rate are still being serviced by the borrowers. They stand to benefit only when the bank will cut its base rate. Not many banks have cut their base rate in the recent past. SBI had it by 0.30 percent on Jan 1, 2018, before this it had cut it by 0.5 percent in September 2017. Effective April 1, 2018, Allahabad Bank had cut base rate to 9.15 percent from 9.6percent and even its benchmark prime lending rate (BPLR) has been brought down to 13.40 percent from 13.85 percent.
Taking stock of the situation, RBI in its February meet had stated that, “Since MCLR is more sensitive to policy rate signals, it has been decided to harmonize the methodology of determining benchmark rates by linking the Base Rate to the MCLR with effect from April 1, 2018.”
MCLR linked home loan
Banks, however, may or may not lend at MCLR. They may ask for a spread or a mark-up or a margin. The actual home loan interest rate can be equal to the MCLR or have a ‘mark-up’ or ‘spread’, but can never be lower than the MCLR.
Note: Loans are disbursed by HDFC Ltd.
New home loan borrowers
For new home loan borrowers, it’s only the MCLR linked loans that matter. Don’t wait any longer in the hope of an interest rate cut if you are thinking of getting a loan. Instead, if you are eligible, you can opt for the benefit under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme. The deadline to avail the benefit under this scheme is March 31, 2019. Under the scheme, a credit-linked interest subsidy is given according to the applicant’s income level.
Existing home loan takers
a) Home loans linked with MCLR
As was no rate cut today, there is unlikely to be any downward pressure on MCLR. On the flip side, with banks increasing their MCLR, the possibility of home loan rates going up when the reset date arrives cannot be ruled out either. In MCLR-linked home loans, the rate is reset after 6/12 months as per the agreement between the borrower and the bank. The rate applicable on that date becomes the new rate for servicing the EMI’s.
b) Base rate home loans
Interest rates charged under the base rate system is relatively higher as compared to that under the MCLR regime. Still, if your home loan interest rate is linked to the base rate system, you might want to reconsider the option of switching to an MCLR based loan. As has been seen in the past, there has been a lag in the transmission of cut in repo rate by banks to the consumers after the central bank reduces rates. However, under the base rate system, whenever RBI had raised repo rates, the banks used to raise their base rates without any delays.
Currently, banks can decide their own benchmark lending rate, the MCLR. What if your loan was linked to a benchmark set by a third-party? Will you get a better deal?
Vivina Vishwanathan | Last Published: Tue, Mar 13 2018. 08 33 AM IST | LiveMint
India has floating home loans that become expensive as soon as the interest rates go up, but don’t float down when the rates fall. This happens because the banking regulator allows banks to peg their home loan rates to a benchmark that the banks themselves control—allowing them to benefit when they choose to, at the cost of you, the retail borrower. But it looks as if competition is finally arriving in this segment with a new home loan product from Citibank India, which uses a third-party benchmark. Here, we examine if such a thing is good for you or not. But first, some background.
Several times, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its monetary policy review has flagged the issue of rate cut benefits not being passed on to retail customers. It has tried thrice to rationalize the benchmark lending rate linked to home loans, in a way that there is transparency and the benefits are passed on to consumers.
In the last 7 years, we have also seen home loans move through three benchmark rates—from benchmark prime lending rate (BPLR) to base rate in 2010 and then to marginal cost of funds based lending rate(MCLR) in 2016. However, none of these attempts seem to have worked and the desired goal of transparency in loan rates has still not been delivered.
Last year, during a monetary policy announcement, RBI governor Urjit Patel indicated that MCLR could be reviewed as the rate transmission to customers continued to be slow. While the banking regulator waffles on this, Citibank has come out with a home loan product that is linked to 3-month treasury bills (T-Bills).
Is it allowed to do this? “RBI permits banks to link their variable rate home loans to MCLR, provide fixed-rate loans, semi-fixed-rate loans or (even) link their loans to an external benchmark,” said Rohit Ranjan, head of secured lending, Citibank India. This is not the first time a bank has linked its home loan product to an external benchmark. ING Vyasa Bank Ltd, in 2005, had a home loan product that was linked to Mumbai Inter-Bank Offer Rate (Mibor) (you can read more about it here). Let’s understand the home loan products linked to T-Bills and see if you should opt for them.
Citi’s new home loan product is linked to the 3-month Government of India T-Bill benchmark. It is an external reference rate. Citi has decided to pick this data from the Financial Benchmarks India Pvt. Ltd (FBIL), which is a company that aims to develop and administer benchmarks relating to money market, government securities and foreign exchange in India.
How is the data for this benchmark arrived at? According to FBIL, it is based on T-Bills traded in the market. The benchmark rate is announced everyday at 5.30pm, except on holidays.
It is calculated from the data of secondary market trades executed and reported up to 5pm on the Negotiated Dealing System – Order Matching Platform (NDS-OM)—which is an electronic system for trading government securities in the secondary market. All trades of Rs5 crore or more, and having had a minimum of three trades in each tenure are considered. The benchmark T-Bill data is then published for seven different tenures: 14 days, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months.
So that there is consistency, the bank has decided to pick the rate published on 12th day of each month. “Our endeavour is to provide as much stability as possible on rates to our customers. We believe a date towards the middle of the month best suits this objective,” said Ranjan. Usually, the RBI too comes out with its bi-monthly monetary policy in the first week of the month.
As this home loan product will be linked to 3-month T-Bill data, its reset clause will also be set for 3 months. This means, every 3 months your home loan interest would change based on movements in the external benchmark rate.
Is a 3-month T-Bill benchmark appropriate for 20-30 year loans? In a developed market such as the US, mortgages are linked to longer duration benchmark rates. “Linking long-term loans to longer-duration benchmark rates is more appropriate to the extend that it is based on duration. But at the same time in the US, for example, mortgages tend to be fixed. Then it makes sense to link to longer term loan. In case of Citi’s home loan product, the reset is more frequent and linking to a long-term rate may not be appropriate. It is just a strategy,” said R. Sivakumar, head, fixed income, Axis Mutual Fund.
The home loan also comes with a spread. In this case, it is around 200 basis points, plus T-Bill. The 200 basis points can vary depending on your credit profile. “As of today, home loan rate linked to t-bills will be around 8.5%….If your credit profile is good, then the spread could be lower,” said Ranjan. Remember that the spread that you agree to while signing a loan agreement will not be changed till the end of loan tenure.
How T-Bill is different
The RBI has said many times that there is no transparency in the way floating interest rate on home loans is calculated, and that there is need for a benchmark rate that is market linked so that any change in policy rates can be passed on to the consumers. Usually, banks keep the rates high even in a falling interest rate regime and you don’t see an immediate impact or cut in policy rates. To understand if home loans linked to T-Bills will bring in transparency, we compared T-Bills with MCLR and base rate. If you look at both comparisons, the drop in interest rates linked to MCLR as well as base rate come with a lag. If the home loan rates are linked to T-Bills, the reflection on falling interest rate is likely to be immediate on your home loan. The movement in T-Bill yields is a result of two parameters—repo rate and liquidity. Hence, if it is a falling interest rate regime, the fall will reflect faster in your loan rates.
Currently, when your home loan is linked to MCLR, the impact on your home loan rate is also a result of the banks’ cost of funds and other parameters associated with the bank that you take the loan from.
What should you do?
The concept of linking home loans to an external benchmark rate (instead of an internal one) is a good idea, as it makes the process transparent. Typically, banks have some leeway in controlling their rates. An external rate should obviate such a possibility.
However, is it possible for banks to manipulate the external benchmark too? “It is very difficult, since the cut off rate is decided by RBI. The central bank has the ability to manipulate it but a market participant can’t since it is a big and liquid market,” said Sivakumar.
As of now, the interest rate on home loans that is linked to T-Bills and MCLR are similar, due to the spreads attached to each one of them. A Citi home loan linked to MCLR has a spread of 40 basis points while the one that is linked to the T-Bills would have a spread of 200 basis points. Experts say that interest rates linked to an external benchmark will bring transparency and hence will help you to benefit more from falling interest rates.
“The rate will fall as well as rise faster. In T-Bills you will see a decrease before the MCLR decreases. There will be periods where the rates will lead or lag each other. But over the life cycle of the mortgage, say 20 to 30 years, the difference should not be huge, assuming the spread of 200 basis points,” said Sivakumar.
Currently, there have been signals of a higher interest rate regime kicking in. Hence, you may not benefit from T-Bill rates immediately. “The experience with base rate and MCLR has been that the rates tend to fall much more slowly when policy rates are falling. The moment you have an external benchmark, and there is no bank controlling it, the loan will be far more transparent and you are better off having that— especially when rates are falling,” said Vishal Dhawan, a Mumbai-based financial planner.
But what about the 200 basis point spread? “The spread is a function of what you end up believing is the cost of running a business. Ultimately, the bank will also be raising resources, which is not necessarily linked to 3-month T-Bill rate. It will be unfair to believe that the cost of fund for the bank is only the 3-month T-Bill rate and the spread is too much. The value will become far more evident when the rate cycle turns again and rates go down—right now it may not make a big difference,” added Dhawan.
As a borrower, however, you now have an option to pick a home loan based on an external benchmark. If it doesn’t work for you, you always have the option to switch to an MCLR-linked home loan.
PTI | Published Date: Jan 02, 2018 07:52 am | FirstPost.com
Mumbai: In a major boost to homebuyers, the country’s largest lender State Bank of India has extended the processing fee waiver till March-end and also reduced the base rate by a sharp 30 basis points to 8.65 percent.
The reduction in base rate, effective from Monday, is going to bring relief for nearly 80 lakh customers of the bank whose loans are still linked to the base rate and not the marginal cost of funds-based lending rates (MCLR).
Flushed with excess liquidity, SBI had announced processing fee waiver for auto and home loans late August. In fact, since last fiscal, and especially after the November 2016 note-ban, all the banks have been saddled with excess liquidity amidst continuing degrowth in industrial credit.
For the first time in over two years, credit uptake by corporates entered the positive terrain but with a paltry 1 percent growth in November this year. “We’ve decided to extend the ongoing waiver on home loan processing fees till March 31, 2018 for new customers and others looking to switch their existing loans to us,” SBI said in a statement on Monday.
Managing director for retail and digital banking P K Gupta said that with stability returning to the realty space after the implementation of the Real Estate Act (Rera), he sees lots of demand for home loans going ahead. “With most states having the realty regulator Rera now, stability has returned to the market in terms of project approvals. The teething troubles of the initial Rera months are behind the market. So, we foresee lots of demand for home loans. So, we think this is the right time to continue with that waiver to enable people for buy homes,” Gupta said in a concall.
The bank revised down the base rate to 8.65 percent for existing customers from 8.95 percent, while the BPLR (benchmark prime lending rate) is down from 13.70 percent to 13.40 percent.
The bank, however, did not change the marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR). The one-year MCLR of the bank stands at 7.95 percent.
“We had done the rate review in the last week of December, and based on whatever deposits rates we had, our base rate was brought down by 30 basis points to 8.65 percent now,” Gupta said.
The move is going to give nearly 80 lakh customers of SBI who were on the old lending rate regimes and have not moved to MCLR. Banks review MCLR on a monthly basis, while the base rate revision happens once a quarter.
“The MCLR was reduced earlier also as the gap between MCLR and base rate had become quite wide. This reduction will help in reducing that gap,” he said.
Due to weak transmission of policy rate by banks under the base rate system, the Reserve Bank had introduced the MCLR from 1 April, 2016.
With the banks not fully passing on the rate cuts that the central bank has done in the past two years, the regulator is not happy even with the base rate regime and has mooted an external benchmark to better reflect market realities and speedier transmission.
Gupta said the current revision of base rate will ensure transmission of the policy rate cuts in the recent past.
Business PTI | Apr, 03 2017 18:53:46 IST | Firtspost.com
New Delhi – Ahead of the RBI monetary policy this week, the country’s largest bank SBI has reduced benchmark lending rate by 0.15 percent to 9.10 percent, a move that will lower EMIs for borrowers.
Base rate or the minimum lending rate of the bank has been reduced from 9.25 percent to 9.10 percent effective April 1. The bank has also reduced its base rate by 0.05 percent to 9.25 percent.
Similarly, benchmark prime lending rate (BPLR) has also been reduced by similar percentage points to 13.85 percent from 14 percent.
With the reduction, EMIs for the new as well as existing borrowers who have taken housing and car loans at base rate will come down by at least 0.15 percent.
The new rate is effective from the date the bank merged five of its associates and Bharatiya Mahila Bank putting it on the list of top 50 large banks of the world.
The total customer base of the bank has reached 37 crore with a branch network of around 24,000 and nearly 59,000 ATMs across the country.
The merged entity has a deposit base of more than Rs 26 lakh crore and advances of Rs 18.50 lakh crore. It is to be noted that the SBI has made changes in signage and logo, with its iconic keyhole set against the background of inky blue.
There have been minor changes in the design and colour of SBI’s new look from April 1.
The background to the SBI signboard has been changed from white to inky blue while the SBI logo or the monogram is a few shades lighter than the existing blue.
By Narendra Nathan, ET Bureau| Mar 20, 2017, 04.06 PM IST | Economic Times
Just like bank depositors, those borrowing from banks also need to be alert in order to protect themselves against unnecessary charges. Given below are the most common areas where banks tend to overcharge customers.
If you compare the interest costs of your friends and relatives on bank loans—housing, auto, personal loan, etc.—you will realise that they vary drastically. And these costs not only vary across banks, but across customers of the same bank—and not because of varying customer credit scores. Some banks have been offering loans at cheaper rates to new customers, while charging old customers a higher rate. “Banks continue to follow the discriminatory practice of offering differential rates for existing and new customers and this should stop,” says Ramganesh Iyer, Co-founder, Fisdom.
As the banking regulator, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should stop this discriminatory practice, which it is partly responsible for creating. The RBI introduced the MCLR (marginal cost based lending rate) method, effective April 2016, to enable a faster transmission of rate cuts to bank customers, replacing the base rate method that was being used by banks to set their lending rates—earlier the base rate had replaced the less transparent prime lending rate (PLR). Now, borrowers who took loans 4-5 years back, and did not ask their bank to switch to the newer regime, are still linked to the PLR. Those who borrowed when the base rate became the benchmark are stuck with the base rate. Now, while banks are giving new loans at cheaper rates, based on MCLR, old customers are still paying higher rates.
“Since banks offer different rates, it is better to visit some common aggregator and understand the lowest rates available in the market. This will help you bargain better with your bank,” says Dipak Samanta, CEO, iServeFinancial.
To reduce your interest outgo, you need to shift your loan from base rate or PLR to MCLR. Shifting to MCLR now is a good move, say experts. “Though RBI’s stand is neutral now, rates may not go up from current levels. In fact, they may come down later—after an year,” says Balwant Jain, investment expert. Bear in mind though, in an upward moving interest rate regime, MCLR will move up faster than base rates, just like it falls faster in a reducing interest rate regime.
Loan reset charges
There are two types of loans: Fixed and floating rate. Floating rate loans are supposed to mirror the rise and fall in interest rates set by the RBI. But this rarely happens. While banks increase rates immediately, they are very slow in cutting them. The introduction of new benchmarks has also turned out to banks’ advantage. They charge customers for shifting from one benchmark to another— from PLR regime to base rate regime to MCLR regime now. The charges are levied to meet the expenses involved in drafting and registering new agreements—stamp duty, registration charges, etc. Though these expenses vary across states, ordinarily they won’t be more than 0.2% of the outstanding amount. However, some banks try to profit from this also by charging around 0.5%.
Should you go for a reset even if it involves a small charge? Yes. The amount you save will be significantly higher over the years. To illustrate, consider the case of a home loan borrower with Rs 50 lakh outstanding loan amount and a 15-year tenure. A 1% fall in interest— from 9.5% to 8.5%—will bring his EMI from down from Rs 52,200 to Rs 49,250, a reduction of Rs 2,950 per month. A total saving of Rs 5.31 lakh—significantly higher than the reset fee of Rs 25,000 even at the maximum rate of 0.5%. You may be able to get this reset cost down by negotiating with your bank. A threat of shifting to another bank often works. “Another way is to approach the branch manager. Based on the value of your relationship, they can reduce or even waive charges,” says Samanta. The ‘value of relationship’ here is crucial. If you have multiple relationships with the bank—savings bank account, credit card, other loans, investment, etc.—you have a valuable relationship and will receive a favourable treatment.
Source : https://goo.gl/FBRCpI
When banks cut MCLR, they usually do it for all the five MCLR baskets
Vivina Vishwanathan | Tue, Oct 11 2016. 04 35 PM IST | LiveMint
After the Reserve Bank of India cut repo rate by 25 basis points (bps), some banks such as Indian Bank and Canara Bank Ltd cut their marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR) and their base rate. State Bank of India Ltd (SBI), the country’s largest lender, had cut its MCLR before the monetary policy announcement. MCLR is the new benchmark lending rate at which banks lend to new borrowers. The existing borrowers are still on base rate and have the option to switch to MCLR. Currently, MCLR is 5-10 bps lower than base rate. One basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.
When banks cut MCLR, they usually do it for all the five MCLR baskets. For instance, when ICICI Bank reduced its MCLR by 5 bps, its overnight MCLR and 1-month MCLR came down to 8.85% each, the 3-month MCLR to 8.95%, 6-month MCLR to 9.00% and 1-year MCLR to 9.05%.
Out of the five MCLRs that banks publish on their websites, it is either the 6-month or the 1-year MCLR that is used as the benchmark rate for new home loan borrowers. For instance, SBI has benchmarked its home loan to 1-year MCLR, whereas Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd has linked it to 6-month MCLR. Kotak Mahindra Bank’s 6-month MCLR is 9.20% and SBI’s 1-year MCLR is 9.05%. This also means there will be a reset clause in the loan document, which is linked to the tenure of the MCLR your home loan is linked to. In case of SBI it will be 1-year and for Kotak Mahindra Bank it will be 6 months.
Things to remember
All MCLR-linked loans come with a spread, which is the margin that you have to pay above the MCLR. For instance, ICICI Bank offers 1-year MCLR at 9.05%. For a home loan of up to Rs5 crore, the spread is 25 bps, which means your home loan interest rate will be 9.30%. For home loans above Rs5 crore, the spread is 50 bps above the 1-year MCLR.
Usually the spread is higher for larger loans.
Harsh Roongta | Apr 10, 2016 10:06 PM IST | Business Standard
The marginal cost-based lending rate or MCLR that has kicked in from April 1 replaces the base rate system that was introduced with much fanfare six years ago.
In theory, MCLR is fairly straightforward. The bank declares its MCLR every month, the benchmark rate, based on the latest interest rate it pays on deposits in that month, with a couple of additional items.
Borrowers are charged a little above this rate as the bank will charge a ‘spread’. This will be pre-fixed at the time of giving the loan and cannot be changed easily. In theory, once the bank reduces its deposit rates, the MCLR will come down and since the ‘spread’ is pre-fixed, so will the interest rate for borrowers.
But, there are issues. For one, unlike the base rate, there will be a multitude of rates such as overnight, monthly, quarterly, six-monthly and yearly. Banks are free to have more such rates. Each of these rates will be announced every month by each bank.
Then, apart from the deposit rate, there are a whole host of subjective factors applicable in each calculation and there can well be a situation where these multiple rates move in opposite directions. That is, the monthly rate might be down but the annual rate goes up.
Also, the applicability of the reset date has been left to the discretion of the banks. So, State Bank of India (SBI) and ICICI Bank have chosen to go for a yearly reset of interest rates for home loans, whereas Kotak Mahindra Bank has chosen a six-month reset and some other banks have chosen quarterly resets. The implications of this difference in reset periods will only be known in the future. In the current context, it implies that even if SBI drops MCLR in May, the home loan borrower will get the benefit only after one year.
In addition, the MCLR system does not apply to housing finance companies such as Housing Development Finance Corporation and LIC Housing and other finance companies as well as non-banking finance companies. And, if you want to shift to the new mechanism, you may have to pay a fee.
The good thing: Both floating and fixed rates are clearly defined – an excellent move.
Based on these, let’s make some predictions:
- Three to seven year loans like car loans and personal loans, currently given on a floating rate basis by public sector banks (most private banks are already providing these on a fixed-rate basis), will shift to a fixed rate regime. This will help banks charge a prepayment penalty. It is also possible that banks may stop offering the floating rate option for such loans or make it more expensive.
- Even in the home loans segment, we shall see many hybrid loans where the initial period will be a fixed rate for at least three years, to enable the banks to charge a stiff prepayment penalty in the event that the consumer wants to prepay or shift his loan during this period. However, these types of loans have never been popular with the borrowers.
- Quite a few banks are going to keep the reset clause at 12 months from the date of disbursement. That will enable them to deny the benefit of the lower rate to the borrowers for at least a year. This is a double-edged weapon as in the future, this will also prevent banks from increasing the rates for a year despite an intermediate increase in interest rates. Maybe, at that time, they will change the reset period for new consumers. Of course, nothing but inertia prevents the consumer from shifting his loan without a prepayment penalty, even within the year.