Home loan borrowers servicing EMIs under the base rate should switch to MCLR to lower the interest burden. Here’s why and how you should go about it.
The start of the new year may have something to cheer for the home loan borrowers. Several banks have significantly reduced the interest rates charged on these loans.
The State Bank of India (SBI) has lowered its home loan rate from 9.10 per cent to 8.60 per cent and ICICI Bank from 9.10 percent to 8.65 percent, HDFC at 8.7 per cent, with other banks set to follow suit. Effectively, home loan rate has come down by an average of about 0.4-0.5 per cent after these announcements.
Noticeably, SBI’s one-year MCLR is at 8 per cent which makes the spread on its home loan 0.6 per cent. So, even though the MCLR of banks have fallen, the actual home loans are not at MCLR. Still, the writing on the wall is clear – there is more room to cut home loan rates by the banks.
Borrowers on base rate should switch now
If not all then at least the old borrowers who have been servicing their EMI’s based on the erstwhile base rate system of lending, stand to benefit. Even though bank’s base rate hasn’t come down as much, they now have a stronger reason to switch to the current MCLR-based lending. With the recent interest rate cuts on loans by banks the differential between base rate at which old borrowers are servicing their loan and the current MCLR is widening.
For those who had taken loans after July 1, 2010, but before April 1, 2016, the loans are linked to the bank’s base rate. And for most of these borrowers, the home loan interest rate is around 10 per cent. After the recent rate cuts announced by banks, the average MCLR has fallen to about 8.75 percent or even lower. This differential of 1-1.25 percent in base rate and MCLR will help old borrowers to switch to MCLR and save on total interest outgo.
Why to switch now
The primary reason to switch from base rate to MCLR has to be the sluggishness seen in banks’ passing on the benefits of RBI rate cuts to borrowers. RBI’s repo rate cuts were not reflecting in the bank’s base rate but are a part of the factors that goes into calculating the bank’s MCLR so, the moment repo rate changed, MCLR was impacted.
Further, the MCLR takes into account the marginal cost of funds which includes the rate at which the bank raises deposits and other cost of borrowings. With banks flush with funds post demonetisation, the bank’s CASA deposits (current account-savings account) have swelled and have given the banks the leeway to go for such major rate cuts.
The base rate, on the other hand, has seen only marginal reduction since last 24 months. Post demonetisation, banks are expected to wait and see the impact once the restrictions on cash withdrawals are removed. If the funds don’t move out from the banking system in significant amounts, further rate cut is expected.
MCLR based borrowers
For the new home loan borrowers who have taken loan after April 1, 2016, there’s not much immediate benefit from the recent rate cuts. For most MCLR-linked home loan contracts, the banks reset the interest rate after 12 months for their home loan borrowers. So, if someone has taken home loan from a bank say in May, 2016, the next re-set date will be in May, 2017. Any revisions by RBI or banks will not impact their EMIs or the loan till the reset date
What’s MCLR mode of lending
A new method of bank lending called marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR) was put in place for all loans, including home loans, given after April 1, 2016. Under the MCLR mode, the banks have to review and declare overnight, one month, three months, six months, one year, two years, three years rates each month.
In a falling interest rate scenario, quarterly or half-yearly could be a better option, provided the bank agrees. But when the interest rate cycle turns, the borrower will be at a disadvantage. After moving to the MCLR system, there is always the risk of any upward movement of interest rates before you reach the reset period. If the RBI raises repo rates, MCLR too, will move up.
Options for base rate borrowers
When the interest rate on your loan goes down banks, on their own, typically reduce the tenure automatically (instead of reducing EMI amount) and thereby, transfer the benefit of lower rate to the customers.
The base rate borrowers now have two options – switch to MCLR based lending with the same bank or else transfer i.e. get the loan refinanced from another bank on MCLR mode. One may also continue the loan on base rate, especially if the loan term is nearing the end.
The RBI has made it clear that banks should allow base rate borrowers to switch to MCLR. The existing loans can run till maturity or borrowers can switch to MCLR on mutually agreed terms.
Switching from base rate to MCLR within the same bank
It makes sense to switch if the difference between what you are paying and what the bank is offering now as MCLR is significant. And also in cases where the time for the home loan to finish is not near.
Switching loan from base rate to MCLR with another bank (refinancing)
If your bank is offering a high home loan interest rate (MCLR plus spread) then look for refinancing. Get the loan refinanced from a bank offering a lower interest rate. You may have to incur processing fees. However, banks are not allowed to charge foreclosure or full repayment charges. Other charges may include lawyer’s fees, mortgage charges, etc. Remember, the bank may ask you to buy a home loan insurance cover plan, which is not mandatory. Get the loan insured through a pure term insurance instead, in addition to any insurance that you already have.
Switching to MCLR in itself should help you save a substantial amount. In addition to switching the loan from base rate-linked to MCLR and thereby saving interest, prepare a systematic partial prepayment plan to further reduce the interest burden. It’s after all better to up your home-equity rather than making it a highly leveraged buy-out.
Under Construction Flat Booking Finds Tax Deduction Under Time Constraints
If a buyer makes a transaction to book an under-construction flat and if he acquires it within the three-year period of the sale of his old house, then he is entitled to a tax deduction, says a ruling from the Mumbai bench of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT). If an apartment is booked in an under construction project than it must be viewed as a method of constructing residential tenements, says the December 18 judgment.
That means if the buyer uses the entire gain from the transaction to buy another house within two years or construct another house within three years. The two- and three-year period applies even if the buyer bought another house a year before selling the first one. But the property should have been bought in the name of the seller.
It is mandatory that within a period of two years after or one year before the date of transfer of old house, the taxpayer should construct a residential house or acquire another residential house within a period of three years from the date of transfer of the old house. The date of receipt of compensation will determine the period of acquisition or construction in a case of compulsory acquisition.
This exemption is effective and can only be claimed in respect of one residential house property purchased/constructed in India. In the case of multiple house purchases or constructions, the exemption under section 54 will be available in respect of one house only. Any purchases made outside the country does not fall under any kind of exemption. Section 54 gives relaxation in such cases by providing relief to the taxpayer who sells his residential house and acquires another residential house from the gained capital.
After the sale of an asset, the difference between the buying price and the selling price is a capital gain or a capital loss. These are further classified as long-term or short-term. If a property is held for 24 months or less, with effective from 2017-18, then that asset is treated as Short Term Capital Asset. Then an investor can make
treated as Long Term Capital Asset. Then only a Long Term Capital Gain (LTCG) or Long Term Capital Loss (LTCL) can be made on that investment.
ITAT agreed that booking of a new flat in an under-construction apartment should be considered as a case of “construction” and not “purchase”, hence following the earlier decisions of the Bombay high court and the tribunal itself. Further ITAT allowed the fact that the construction can began prior to the date of sale of the old asset. Same was stated in the earlier judicial decisions of the Karnataka high court and Ahmedabad ITAT, that the date of commencement is not relevant but it is the completion of construction that comes in relevance to section 54.
HDFC and Quikr Make A Deal
According to a deal between HDFC and Quikr, a stake of more than 3 percent will be given to the mortgage giant in return to its transfer of offline and online real estate brokerage business to the classified ads platform.
After acquiring Commonfloor in 2016 Quikr already has a major presence in online real estate broking.
“Most of the searches for real estate are moving online. Quikr has a much bigger presence online. Through this deal, we are partnering Quikr in the broking business,” said HDFC MD Renu Sud Karnad. According to her, this deal will strengthen Quirks position with offline support.
The deal suggests that HDFC will transfer to Quikr its entire shareholding in HDFC Realty, a real estate brokerage platform, and HDFC Developers, which runs the HDFC RED online platform.
Karnad added that the deal expects Quikr to generate home loan leads for HDFC. The transaction consists of a co-branded alliance between both parties and the HDFC brand will continue to be used online for a year.
The e-real estate classifieds platform HDFC RED has around 7,000 project listings and generates traffic of over 80,000 unique visitors per month. HDFC Realty has a 300-member, in-house sales team, and 7,000-strong nationwide broker network. Avendus Capital was the exclusive financial adviser to Quikr while Kotak Investment Banking acted as the exclusive financial adviser to HDFC on this.
30 million monthly users make Quikr India’s largest classifieds platform. It runs multiple vertical businesses across real estate, automobiles, jobs, services, and goods. The Quikr Home, its real estate vertical generates 3.5 million monthly unique visitors.
Both companies intend to work closely and conduct analytics and identify potential homebuyers, and therefore home loan customers, early in their home-buying journey. Quikr founder and CEO Pranay Chulet said, “We see great synergies between Quikr and HDFC as we start working together to bring a seamless online-to-offline platform to developers and consumers.”
Retaining The Sustainability: GRIHA Launches Star Rating For Urban Homes
Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA), is the National Rating System of India, a Sanskrit word meaning – ‘Abode’. Human architecture has always consumed resources in the form of energy, water and material from the environment. From their construction to operation, these habitats absorb the resources throughout their life cycles, emitting wastes in the end. This emission could be direct in the form of municipal wastes or indirect emission into the atmosphere, such as from electricity generation. Hence GRIHA was formed to reduce an architecture’s resource consumption, waste production and overall environment impact up to certain national acceptable limits.
In attempt to quantify all these aspects, like energy consumption, waste generation etc. GRIHA tries to manage, control and bring down the respective to the best possible limit. Being a rating tool, it helps people to assess the performance of their respective projects against the national benchmarks.
Hence it becomes an evaluation of the environmental performance of an architecture on a holistic level. Covering its entire life cycle, this evaluation provides a specific standard for a ‘green building’. This rating system aims to strike a balance between established institutions and emerging concepts, on a national as well as the international level.
The process starts with an online submission of documents according to the criteria. Then a team of professionals and experts from GRIHA Secretariat takes a site visit for the evaluation of the building. There are four different sections categorized by 34 criteria in GRIHA rating system. Some of them are site selection and site planning, conservation and efficient utilization of resources, building operation and maintenance, and innovation.
Sanjay Seth, CEO, Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) Council says, “A rating between one and five stars is being provided, helping the costumers to know about the sustainability of the houses”.
According to the Union Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, the climate resilient and sustainable buildings are the need of the hour. As the government is aiming to construct around 1.2 crore houses for the urban poor under the affordable housing scheme.
In one of his keynote addresses, Andreas Baum, Ambassador of Switzerland to India and Bhutan said that the Indo Swiss collaboration is operating with the Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency in the development of guidelines for energy efficient housing.
“At present India is witnessing a rapid urbanisation, if each building becomes greener than the last one, then we have a huge opportunity and hope for our country. We need to look beyond the conventional methods of building, in order to provide our citizens with a good quality of life. Hence, GRIHA gains important in meeting our national goals with respect to a sustainable society”, says Dr Ajay Mathur, director general, TERI & president, GRIHA Council.
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