We can help you understand every term and advise you on choosing the best possible plan so that home buying is a smooth journey for you with this property loan guide.
The loan terminology and industry jargons can be really complicated and get overwhelming at times. Not only does it confuse the home seekers, some financial institutions often mislead them into making poor decisions.
Naive buyers often fall in a trap, thereby paying a huge price for their decision. So, the most important thing to ensure is: never make a decision in a haste.
Home Loans for New Applicants:
With the world coming back stronger following a major setback in form of CoVid19, now’s as good a time as any to buy a home, if you’ve been planning to take that proverbial leap of faith for a while now.
Driving this trend will be the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) monetary policy decision earlier in March 2020 to slash repo rates by 0.75 basis points (bps). This move by the Indian central bank has made home loans significantly attractive presenting potential home buyers with an opportunity that cannot be missed. The steep cut has brought interest rates on home loans by public and private sector banks to their lowest, between 7.20% and 8.05%, in over a decade.
These involve fixed EMIs for the initial 13 to 36 months, depending on the bank. Earlier, many banks were offering teaser loans, but most of the banks have discontinued offering them in the recent past, reeling from the implications of the pandemic.
Other popular home loan products include Floating and Fixed home loan interest rates. As the name suggests, Floating rates fluctuate in accordance with base rates or the BPLR (whatever the case maybe). As far as fixed home loan interest rate products go, you can avail of two types - fixed for the entire tenure or fixed for a certain period of time. But if the interest rate is fixed for the entire tenure of the loan, then the EMI of your housing loan will be fixed for the entire tenure of the loan. But in case the interest rate is fixed only for a specific tenure say 5 years, the bank can change its interest rate every 5 years.
Home Loans for Existing Borrowers:
If you are an existing home loan borrower with a peerless financial track record, you may consider shifting to a teaser rate scheme to ease the overall fiscal burden. The time and effort you will devote on shifting your existing loan to the new teaser home loan will definitely be worth its value. Along with that, the first thing to do is to shift from the old BPLR system to the new base rate regime, which is not automatically applicable to the existing users and requires a separate application. For this you will have to lodge an application with the concerned bank. The banks will change the base rate, and this system of setting up the base rate is more transparent than the system of fixing up BPLR. Thus consider converting your existing home loan to a base rate system which will be much more beneficial to you than to stay in the old BPLR system.
Home Loan Application Process:
From applying for a home loan to getting it approved, involves various stages:
Step 1: Filling the application form
Step 2: Personal discussion
Step 3: Bank's Field Investigation
Step 4: Credit appraisal by the bank and loan sanction
Step 5: Offer letter
Step 6: Submission of legal documents & legal check
Step 7: Technical / Valuation check
Step 8: Valuation
Step 9: Registration of property documents
Step 10: Signing of agreements and submitting post-dated cheques
Step 11: Disbursement
1. For what purposes can I seek a first time home loan?
You can generally seek a first time home loan for buying a house or a flat, renovation, extension and repairs to your existing house. Most banks have a separate policy for those who are going for a second house. Please remember to seek specific clarifications on the above-mentioned issues from your commercial bank.
2. How will your bank decide your home loan eligibility?
Your bank will assess your repayment capacity while deciding the home loan eligibility. Repayment capacity is based on your monthly disposable / surplus income, (which in turn is based on factors such as total monthly income / surplus less monthly expenses) and other factors like spouse's income, assets, liabilities, stability of income etc. The main concern of the bank is to make sure that you comfortably repay the loan on time and ensure end use. The higher the monthly disposable income, higher will be the amount you will be eligible for loan. Typically, a bank assumes that about 55-60 % of your monthly disposable / surplus income is available for repayment of loan. However, some banks calculate the income available for EMI payments based on an individual’s gross income and not on his disposable income.
The amount of the loan depends on the tenure of the loan and the rate of interest also as these variables determine your monthly outgo / outflow which in turn depends on your disposable income. Banks generally fix an upper age limit for home loan applicants.
3. What is an EMI?
You repay the loan in Equated Monthly Instalments (EMIs) comprising both principal and interest. Repayment by way of EMI starts from the month following the month in which you take full disbursement. (For understanding how EMI is calculated, please see annex).
4. What documents are generally sought for a loan approval?
In addition to all legal documents relating to the house being bought, banks will also ask you to submit Identity and Residence Proof, latest salary slip (authenticated by the employer and self-attested for employees) and Form 16 (for business persons/ self-employed) and last 6 months’ bank statements / Balance Sheet, as applicable. You also need to submit the completed application form along with your photograph. Loan applications form would give a checklist of documents to be attached with the application.
Do not be in a hurry to seal the deal quickly.
Please do discuss and seek more information on any waivers in terms and conditions provided by the commercial bank in this regard. For example, some banks insist on submission of Life Insurance Policies of the borrower / guarantor equal to the loan amount assigned in favour of the commercial bank. There are usually amount ceilings for this condition which can also be waived by appropriate authority. Please read the fine print of the bank’s scheme carefully and seek clarifications.
5. What are the different interest rate options offered by banks?
Banks generally offer either of the following loan options: Floating Rate Home Loans and Fixed Rate Home Loans. For a Fixed Rate Loan, the rate of interest is fixed either for the entire tenure of the loan or a certain part of the tenure of the loan. In case of a pure fixed loan, the EMI due to the bank remains constant. If a bank offers a Loan which is fixed only for a certain period of the tenure of the loan, please try to elicit information from the bank whether the rates may be raised after the period (reset clause). You may try to negotiate a lock-in that should include the rate that you have agreed upon initially and the period the lock-in lasts.
Hence, the EMI of a fixed rate loan is known in advance. This is the cash outflow that can be planned for at the outset of the loan. If the inflation and the interest rate in the economy move up over the years, a fixed EMI is attractively stagnant and is easier to plan for. However, if you have fixed EMI, any reduction in interest rates in the market, will not benefit you.
Determinants of floating rate:
The EMI of a floating rate loan changes with changes in market interest rates. If market rates increase, your repayment increases. When rates fall, your dues also fall. The floating interest rate is made up of two parts: the index and the spread. The index is a measure of interest rates generally (based on say, government securities prices), and the spread is an extra amount that the banker adds to cover credit risk, profit mark-up etc. The amount of the spread may differ from one lender to another, but it is usually constant over the life of the loan. If the index rate moves up, so does your interest rate in most circumstances and you will have to pay a higher EMI. Conversely, if the interest rate moves down, your EMI amount should be lower.
Also, sometimes banks make some adjustments so that your EMI remains constant. In such cases, when a lender increases the floating interest rate, the tenure of the loan is increased (and EMI kept constant).
Some lenders also base their floating rates on their Benchmark Prime Lending Rates (BPLR). You should ask what index will be used for setting the floating rate, how it has generally fluctuated in the past, and where it is published/disclosed. However, the past fluctuation of any index is not a guarantee for its future behaviour.
Flexibility in EMI:
Some banks also offer their customers flexible repayment options. Here the EMIs are unequal. In step-up loans, the EMI is low initially and increases as years roll by (balloon repayment). In step-down loans, EMI is high initially and decreases as years roll by.
Step-up option is convenient for borrowers who are in the beginning of their careers. Step-down loan option is useful for borrowers who are close to their retirement years and currently make good money.
6. What is monthly reducing balances method?
Borrowers benefit more from a loan that's calculated on a monthly reducing basis than on an annual basis. In case of monthly resets, interest is calculated on the outstanding principal balance for that month. The principal paid is deducted from the opening principal outstanding balance to arrive at the opening principal for the next month and interest is computed on the new, reduced principal outstanding. In case of annual resets, principal paid is adjusted only at the end of the year. Hence, you continue to pay interest on a portion of the principal that has been paid back to the lender.
7. How does tenure affect cost of loan?
The longer the tenure of the loan, the lesser will be your monthly EMI outflow. Shorter tenures mean greater EMI burden, but your loan is repaid faster. If you have a short-term cash flow mismatch, your bank may increase the tenure of the loan, and your EMI burden comes down. But longer tenures mean payment of larger interest towards the loan and make it more expensive.
8. What is pre-EMI interest?
Sometimes loan is disbursed in instalments, depending on the stages of completion of the housing project. Pending final disbursement, you may be required to pay interest only on the portion of the loan disbursed. This interest called pre-EMI interest. Pre-EMI interest is payable every month from the date of each disbursement up to the date of commencement of EMI.
However, many banks offer a special facility whereby customers can choose the instalments they wish to pay for under construction properties till the time the property is ready for possession. Anything paid over and above the interest by the customer goes towards Principal repayment. The customer benefits by starting EMI payment earlier and hence repays the loan faster. Please check with your banker whether this facility is available before availing of the loan.
9. What security will you have to provide?
The security for a housing loan is typically a first mortgage of the property, normally by way of deposit of title deeds. Banks also sometimes ask for other collateral security as may be necessary. Some banks insist on margin / down payment (borrower’s contribution to the creation of an asset) to be maintained / made also.
Collateral security assigned to your bank could be life insurance policies, the surrender value of which is set at a certain percentage to the loan amount, guarantees from solvent guarantors, pledge of shares/ securities and investments like KVP/ NSC etc. that are acceptable to your banker. Banks would also require you to ensure that the title to the property is free from any encumbrance. (i.e., there should not be any existing mortgage, loan or litigation, which is likely to affect the title to the property adversely).
10. What precautions do you need to take if you are purchasing a property that is not a newly built one?
Ensure that the documents being provided to you are not colour photocopies. Check the internet for other modus operandi to fraud and ensure clear title to the asset. Seek advice only from authentic sources such as your bank.
Get the no encumbrance certificate to find the true title holder and if it is mortgaged to any financier. Obtain all tax papers to ensure that all documents are up to date.
11. What should be your strategy in dealing with the banks?
Give yourself comfortable time. Do not hurry your purchase or loan in any case. Shopping around for a home loan will help you to get the best financing deal. Shopping, comparing, seeking clarification and negotiating with banks may save you thousands of rupees.
Obtain information from several banks
Home loans are available from mainly two types of lenders--commercial banks and housing finance companies. Different lenders may quote you different rates of interest and other terms and conditions, so you should contact several lenders to make sure you’re getting the best value for money.
Find out how much of a down payment you are required to pay, and find out all the costs involved in the loan (including processing fees, administrative charges and prepayment charges levied by banks). Knowing just the amount of the EMI or the interest rate is not good enough. Similarly, ask for information on loan amount, loan term, and type of loan (fixed or floating) so that you can compare the information and take an informed decision.
12. Can you repay your loan ahead of schedule? Is pre-payment of loan allowed?
Yes, most banks allow you to repay the loan ahead of schedule by making lump sum payments. However, many banks charge early repayment penalties up to 2-3% of the principal amount outstanding. Prepayment penalty may vary according to the reasons and source of funds - if you obtain a loan from another bank for pre-payment the charges are usually higher than when you pay from your own sources. However, you may credit more than your EMI amount into your loan account on a periodic basis and bring down your interest burden as and when funds are available with you. Most banks do not charge a pre-payment penalty if you deposit more than your EMI payable on a periodic basis. Please check such stipulations while availing the loan.
13. What are Switch over charges/ balances transfer charges?
When other banks reduce the interest rate, you may prefer to close your account with the bank with whom you are banking, to avail of the loan from the bank offering reduced rates of interest. You have to pay pre-payment charges for doing so. In order to ensure that their customers do not approach other banks for availing reduced interest rates, banks allow customers to switch over from a higher interest loan to a lower interest loan by paying a switch over fees which is lesser than the pre-payment charges. Generally, switchover fee is taken as percentage of the outstanding loan amount.
Keep up-dating yourself on various changes in the home loan market. Visit the branch, discuss with the officials to get the best out of any changes in the home loan scenario.
14. Do you get a tax benefit on the loan?
Yes. Resident Indians are eligible for certain tax benefits on both principal and interest components of a loan under the Income Tax Act, 1961. Under the current laws, you are entitled to an income tax rebate for interest repayment up to ₹1,50,000 /- per annum. Moreover, you can get added tax benefits under Section 80 C on repayment of principal amount up to ₹1,00,000 /- per annum.
15. What are the minimum standards that banks are required to follow when they sell you a home loan?
a. At the time of sourcing the loan, banks are required to provide information about the interest rate applicable, the fees / charges and any other matter which affects your interest and the same are usually furnished in the product brochure of the banks. Complete transparency is mandatory.
b. The banks will supply you authenticated copies of all the loan documents executed by you at their cost along with a copy each of all enclosures quoted in the loan document on request.
A bank cannot reject your loan application without furnishing valid reason(s) for the same.