KUALA LUMPUR: First-time home-owners continued to have access to financing, said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). In a statement today, the central bank said outstanding housing loans continued to expand at double-digit levels, recording a growth of 10.6% as at end-May 2016.
“About 75% of the borrowers (approximately 1.5 million) with housing loans are first-time house buyers,” it said. BNM said this in response to media articles requesting it to review its lending guidelines. The central bank said access to credit was not the problem confronting potential buyers in owning affordable houses.
“There are more fundamental issues that require resolution such as affordability and shortage of supply of reasonably-priced houses. “The responsible financing guidelines by BNM served to ensure that individuals borrow within their capacity to repay the borrowings,” it said.
BNM said it placed a responsibility on banks to establish a borrower’s income that will be available to meet debt repayments, after allowing for expenditures and contingencies. “This is to protect and prevent individuals from falling into financial hardship due to overborrowing, which ultimately undermines home ownership as a result of foreclosures,” it said.
The central bank said it did not prescribe any lending limits, as lending decisions continued to be determined by a bank’s business decision, reflecting its risk appetite and strategies. “As a general rule, all applicants who fulfil the credit criteria and can afford to repay the debt will have access to credit,” it said.
BNM said it, Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency and Association of Banks in Malaysia continued to engage with state authorities to improve the process for approving applicants for affordable homes to ensure that they will also be eligible for bank financing. “This includes helping individuals identify the steps that they can take to improve their eligibility for financing,” it said.
— THE SUN