Rising Rates Pinch Home Loan Seekers

The rapid rise in the interest rates has begun to impact the home loan seekers. The commercial banks have seen a 2 per cent dip in their home loan portfolio from October to December, 2006.

The housing loan portfolio of banks has dipped to Rs 50,622 crore in December 2006 as against Rs 51,191 crore in October 2006, said the Reserve Bank of India’s report on macroeconomic and monetary development in 2006-07.

Banks’ lending to the real estate sector has dipped by 8.11 per cent to Rs 15,859 crore in December 2006 as compared with Rs 15,859 crore in October 2006.

“The home loan portfolio which has been growing at around 35 per cent for some years is expected to slow down to around 25 per cent in the coming months. The rising interest rates and property prices will have a negative impact on home loan growth, “said a senior ICICI Bank executive.

ICICI bank is the largest player in the home loan market, followed by the housing finance company, HDFC.

The interest rates on home loans have increased by over 2 per cent during the last six months. The increase in the cash reserve ratio and repeated hikes in the short-term borrowing rates (repo rates) has forced the banks to increase the lending rates.

The RBI’s action of increasing the risk weight on all retail loans including housing and real estate loans, has also been a factor. The repo rate and the cash reserve ratio rates are currently pegged at 7.75 per cent and 6.25 per cent respectively.

Chidambaram, in his meetings with bankers, was urging them to rebalance their credit portfolio and go slow on consumption loans such as housing and real estate sectors, stock market and other personal loans. This was largely to control the demand-led inflation. The inflation rate for the week ended April 7 stood at 6.09 per cent.

However, Chidambaram would not be happy to see a dip in the education loan portfolio of the banks. The education loan portfolios dipped to Rs 4418 crore in December 2006 as compared with Rs 4435 in October 2006.

Despite a marginal dip in the bank credit to housing and real estate sector, the personal loan portfolio of banks grew by 5.8 per cent to Rs 1,10,613 crore in December 2006 against Rs 1,01,631 crore in October 2006. The rise in personal loans is largely driven by the growth in bank credit extended against fixed deposits and consumer durables.

(Courtesy: Business Standard)

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