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 | March 5, 2018 | India Today
Mumbai, Mar 5 (PTI) Even as rivals continue to be reluctant about adopting external benchmarks for setting lending rates, American lender Citi today launched the countrys first market benchmark rate-linked lending product.
The bank has introduced a home loan product that will be linked to the rate of treasury bills, which is used by government for its short-term borrowings.
The lender, which already has similar external benchmark-linked products in other markets like the US and Singapore, said it does not see any impact on net interest margin (NIM), a key determinant of profitability, because of the launch of the product where a borrowers rates will be reviewed every three months.
Frustrated at poor transmission of its policy moves into lending rates for borrowers, the Reserve Bank had last October mooted the idea of moving to a market-linked benchmark and suggested three such instruments, including the T-bills rate, the rate for certificate of deposits and its own repo rate to determine the interest rate.
Bankers, led by their lobby grouping Indian Banks Association, had opposed such a move, claiming that the existing marginal cost of funding based lending rates is working well and also pointed out that deposits are not linked to any market benchmark.
Citis country business manager for global consumer banking Shinjini Kumar, said a shift to a market benchmark like the T-bill is transparent, simple and will also help with better transmission.
Loans will be sold at a fixed spread above the T-bill rate which will be maintained throughout the loan tenure, she said, adding there will be quarterly readjustments for the borrower.
There will be a range of spread above the T-bill rate which the bank will follow, its head of secured lending Rohit Ranjan said, adding the average spread will be 2 percentage points. Existing customers will also be able to move to the new product without any refinancing costs, he added.
The banks country treasurer Badrinivas NC sought to downplay concerns surrounding customers being exposed to T- bill rate volatilities, which may happen due to external events like the taper tantrum in 2013 and hinted that the rates also reflect the policy decisions at a particular point of time which get captured through the quarterly resets.
He said the bank has a diversified liability profile, including a high 60 per cent composition on the low-cost current and savings account deposits and also other retail term deposits, which will make it possible for it to offer such a product.
The bank feels the RBI will be on a long pause and may go for a hike in rates only if there is a surge in inflation, he said.
In a few cases, especially concerning top corporates, the bank has been benchmarking rates against market benchmarks but those were deals done on a one-on-one basis, and this is the first time that any lender is going to the market with such an offering, Kumar said.
The bank had a gross home loan book of Rs 9,000 crore, while the overall India book stood at Rs 57,000 crore as of December 2017. Even as rivals struggle with dud assets, its NPAs on the mortgage lending is a healthy 0.05 per cent, the bank said.
Commenting on the recent changes in priority sector lending (PSL) requirements for foreign banks, Kumar said Citi is already compliant on PSL requirements, including the sub- categories and in some cases it uses priority sector lending certificates.
The bank will be resorting to use of digital technologies and tying up with partners to comply with the new requirements, she said. PTI AA BEN BEN SDM
Sidhartha | Updated: Mar 1, 2018, 17:41 IST | Time of India
NEW DELHI: Several lenders, including State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and Punjab National Bank on Thursday announced an increase in lending rates, a move that may make your home loans a little expensive.
The hikes come amid tightening liquidity or cash supply in the banking system, accentuated by the year-end rush that prompted SBI, the country’s largest lender, to raise deposit rates by up to 50 basis points for retail borrowers.
On Thursday, SBI increased its marginal cost of lending rate, which is linked to the interest rate on funds raised by a bank, by 20 basis points (8.15% from 7.95%).
Like SBI, starting March 1, ICICI Bank and PNB increased their MCLR but by a slightly lower magnitude of 15 basis points. Some lenders such as HDFC Bank will review rates next week.
Typically, while extending a home loan, banks keep a spread over the MCLR which results in a higher interest rate on these loans. PNB said that its home loans will cost 8.6% for most borrowers, while women will get it at 8.55%.
SBI has a spread of 40 basis points over the MCLR for most borrowers and 35 basis points for women borrowers (100 basis points equal a percentage point).
While the government has been seeking a lower interest rate and has repeatedly prodded the Reserve Bank of India to pare policy rates, the central bank has resisted a softer interest rate regime, arguing that there is a risk of higher inflation given the recent rise in global crude petroleum prices as well as the impact of domestic measures such as higher allowances for government employees following implementation of the seventh pay commission recommendations. Besides, it has pointed to higher food prices to refrain from cutting policy rates.
With economic growth picking up, RBI may not move that path now and last month the government’s chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian had acknowledged that the scope to lower rates may have narrowed.
After a few hikes in marginal cost based funding rate (MCLR) by some banks in past two months, banks first raised the rates on bulk deposits.
Nikhil Walavalkar | Mar 01, 2018 01:13 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com
The largest public sector bank in India – State Bank of India – has decided to increase the interest rate payable on retail deposits, followed by an increase in MCLR (marginal cost of funds-based lending rate) – the rate charged on loans – by up to 20 basis points. As the largest lender revises its interest rates, should you be worried with your financial plan?
Before getting into corrective measures and means to exploit the rate action, you should spend a minute understanding why rates have gone up.
“Towards the end of the financial year the liquidity in the market has gone down. The banks are keen to raise money. The rates are hiked as a lagged response to the rising bond yields,” said Mahendra Kumar Jajoo, head – fixed income, Mirae Asset Management.
For the uninitiated, the benchmark 10-year bond yield has moved up to 7.78 percent from a low of of 6.18 percent on December 7, 2016.
Banks typically take time to raise their fixed deposit rates. After a few hikes in MCLR by some banks in past two months, banks first raised the rates on bulk deposits. Now interest rates on retail fixed deposits are being hiked. This is a sign of relief for most fixed deposit investors who were forced to consider investing in the volatile stock markets through mutual funds.
Though the interest rate hike on fixed deposits is good news for conservative investors, one should not expect fireworks in the form of aggressive rate hikes in near future.
“As of now the liquidity tightening is the cause behind the fixed deposit rate hikes. RBI has maintained its neutral stance on the monetary issues. This may change to hawkish over next six months,” said Joydeep Sen, founder of wiseinvestor.in, a Mumbai-based wealth management firm.
Though the interest rates are set to go up and others are expected to follow SBI, the process of rate hikes will be gradual. “Bank fixed deposit investors may see higher rates over next six to twelve months. You can consider opting for six months to one year fixed deposits and rolling it over at higher rates when they mature,” Sen advised.
Rising interest rates, however, ring alarm bells for both bond fund investors and borrowers. The increase in yield suppresses the prices of bonds and thereby hurts investors in bond funds as net asset values of the bond funds go down. Recent spike in bond yields have taken a heavy toll on bond funds. Long term gilt funds lost 2.1 percent over past three months, on an average.
The prevalent bond yields are a result of the market discounting RBI’s hawkish stance one year down the line, according to experts. Although opinions are divided on the extent of a further surge in yields, there seems to be a consensus when it comes to volatility in the bond market.
If you are not comfortable with the volatility, you should stay away from long-term bond funds and income funds that invest in longer-term paper.
“Short term bond funds are good investment option at this juncture as they invest in bonds maturing in two to three years, where the yields are attractive,” said Jajoo. If you are comfortable with some amount of volatility and expect a sideways move in yields, you may consider investing in income funds and dynamic bond funds.
While fixed income investors see a mixed bag in the rising interest rate regime, borrowers, especially those on floating rate liabilities, are expected to see tough times ahead. The banking sector is undergoing a situation of extreme pressure on margins due to an increase in non-performing assets like never before.
The rise in yields and fixed deposit rates will ensure that banks will be forced to raise their MCLR. This will result in an increase in the floating rate for home loan borrowers. For example, if you have a Rs 50 lakh home loan for 15 years and the rate is hiked to 8.45 percent from 8.25 percent, then the EMI changes to Rs 49,090 from Rs 48,507, an increase of Rs 583. You may ascertain the possible impact on you using EMI calculator.
“Other banks will definitely follow the MCLR hike action of SBI. The rates on home loans may be hiked by the end of this month or in early April,” said Sukanya Kumar, founder of RetailLending.com.
Banks may postpone their rate hikes to attract home loan volumes and close the financial year with good numbers. But home loan borrowers should be prepared to pay higher EMIs in the near future.
Rates will be revised depending on the MCLR time frame. For example, if your home loan is linked to 6-month MCLR, you can expect rates to change after six months from the last reset. The 6-month MCLR prevalent at that time will be applicable to your home loan at the time of reset.
If interest rates continue their journey northward, cash flows do change for you. Account for them well in advance to ensure that you do not get caught off guard.
Updated: Nov 03, 2017 | 11:07 IST | ET Now Digital
Good news for State Bank of India (SBI) customers and for those willing to take a home loan in the near future. SBI, the country’s top lender by assets, has made its home loans cheaper. The bank has reduced home loan interest rates by 5 basis points to 8.30 per cent per annum. With this reduction, SBI’s offering in the home loan segment has become the lowest in the market, as the bank claims.
The new rates are effective November 01.
The effective interest rate for all eligible salaried people will be 8.30 per cent per annum for loans up to Rs 30 lakh. Rates have been reduced by 5 bps point in all the brackets. Over and above of 8.30 per cent rate, an eligible home loan customer can also avail an interest subsidy of Rs 2.67 lakh under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana scheme.
At present, for a new customer there’s now the possibility of taking bigger loans or incurring lower interest costs in making their dream home purchase a reality.
Before you finalise the loan ask these five key questions to get a good deal on your home loan
1. Negotiate rate of interest
Lenders mostly define the interest rate in a minimum and maximum range, the actual rate charged depends on your eligibility criterion. As a borrower you have the ability to negotiate a better interest rate.
Financial advisers say you can do this not just by comparing your loan options, but also by improving your eligibility by adding a co-borrower and combining the co-borrower’s income with your own.
2. Buy a home loan only after comparing
Before you zero in on a loan, compare between the different loan products available in the market.
Look at the equated monthly installments (EMIs), the interest rates, the processing fee and other related charges to choose the perfect loan. These days home loans offered online, you can always explore with a few clicks.
Look at the base rate, the margin offered, what is the maximum tenure offered, and how is the eligibility calculated and most importantly whether a property similar to yours has been funded by this lender earlier.
3. Fixed rate or floating?
Home loans can be extended either on fixed or on floating rates. If a home loan is taken on fixed rate then the interest rate will not change during the entire loan period and the borrower continues to pay the same EMI throughout the loan term.
All new floating rate bank loans today are linked to the MCLR, whose interest rate automatically resets at fixed intervals. This is beneficial for customers since interest rates have been trending downwards of late.
If the interest is expected to fall then opt for a floating rate and if it is expected to rise then opt for a fixed rate loan.
One can pre-close the loan ahead of its original tenure. If you are on a floating interest rate, no charge will be applicable. If you are on a fixed rate, there may a charge applicable.
4. Understand your borrowing capacity
People often decide to pay high EMIs thinking the loan load would come down with time due to annual increases in their income. However, their incomes may or may not rise with time. Therefore, they must borrow to the limit where paying EMIs would not stretch their finances.
5. Additional costs
When you take a home loan remember that interest is not the only cost you have to bear; there are certain additional costs too.
Every time you apply for a loan with a bank or non-banking financial institution, you are charged a percentage of your loan amount as processing fee. The amount may vary from 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent of your loan amount.
Legal fees are charged by banks or NBFCs to ascertain the legal status of any property. Usually, legal fees are applicable for home loans or loan against property.
Depending on your loan type, you may be charged an amount for prepayment of your loan. If you do not repay your loan EMIs on time, you will be charged a late payment fee. The late payment fee will depend on your lending bank or NBFC and the type of loan.
Our Bureau | MUMBAI | NOVEMBER 8 | Hindu Business Line
The clamour to be the cheapest home loan provider is getting louder. A week after SBI said it is charging the lowest interest rate on home loans following a 5-basis-point (bps) cut in its marginal cost of funds based- lending rate (MCLR), Bank of Baroda (BoB) has joined the bandwagon.
On Wednesday, BoB said it is offering the cheapest home loan rate (at its MCLR of 8.3 per cent) for ‘best rated’ customers across different categories, irrespective of the loan amount. The tenure is up to 30 years for all categories — salaried and self-employed.
‘Best rated customers’ are those with a credit score of 760 and above. For customers with a credit score below that, BoB, based on risk rating, charges a mark-up of up to 100 bps over its MCLR.
“The lowest rate of interest currently offered by other public sector banks is applicable only to a small category of customers such as salaried women seeking a loan of less than ₹30 lakh. However, a male entrepreneur with pristine credit rating seeking a home loan of more than ₹75 lakh may end up paying a rate of interest of 8.5 per cent and above at other banks,” BoB claimed in a statement.
Last week, SBI said that following a 5 bps reduction in its MCLR, its home loan rate is the lowest in the market. One bps equals one-hundredth of a percentage point.
(This article was published on November 8, 2017)
By Sangita Mehta | ET Bureau | Updated: Oct 31, 2017, 07.48 PM IST | Economic Times
MUMBAI: Country’s largest bank, State Bank of India (SBI), announced a 5 basis point cut in its benchmark lending rates across maturity, which first cut after 10 months.
The bank has pegged its benchmark rate to 7.95% for a term of one year with effect from November 1 against 8% year charged earlier. Most banks sharply reduced marginal cost of lending rates (MCLR) in January 2017, post demonetisation exercise after they saw huge inflow of deposits.
The reduction in the lending rates also comes within weeks of Rajnish Kumar, taking charge at the helm for a term of three years. The bank will now pegged MCLR to 7.70% for overnight borrowing and 8.10% for three years. Other largest banks like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank too may announce a token cut in the lending rates.
The new rates will immediately benefit the new borrowers. However, the existing customers may have to wait for a while since under the MCLR system the interest rates charged to the customers is locked for a fixed term.
For home loans, the interest rates are fixed for a term of one year and thus the existing borrower will benefit at the end of the lock-in period.
For salaried women borrower seeking loan of less than Rs 30 lakhs, the bank will now charge 8.30% and for loans between Rs 30 lakhs and Rs 75 lakhs it will charge 8.40%.
For non-salaried women borrower seeking loan less than Rs 30 lakhs the bank will now charge 8.40% and for loans between Rs 30 lakhs and Rs 75 lakhs it will charge 8.50%. For all other borrowers, the bank charges 5 basis points more above the rates charged to women borrower.
The reduction in rates comes at a time when the Reserve Bank of India is revising the formula of pricing the loans. An RBI committee headed by Dr Janak Raj has suggested that interest rate on loans be pegged to external benchmark rates arrived at by market trading rather than leaving it at the discretion of each bank which appear to be coming up with some formula that would defy the best rates for most customers.
While announcing the monetary policy in October 4, the RBI had said, “Arbitrariness in calculating the base rate and MCLR and spreads charged over them has undermined the integrity of the interest rate setting process. The base rate and MCLR regime is also not in sync with global practices on pricing of bank loans.”