More borrowers opt for fixed rate home loans

Homebuyers concerned that interest rates will start rising soon

Fearing that interest rates will soon start to rise, more Singapore borrowers are turning to fixed rate home loans.

The prospect of higher repayments has become far more pressing in recent weeks with the United States Federal Reserve's decision to begin cutting back its stimulus spending.

That paves the way for US interest rates to eventually rise, which will inevitably mean they will rise here too, as Singapore's interest rates closely follow those in the US.

A rise in short-term interest rates would hurt home loan borrowers as many are on floating rate packages that are linked to these rates.

Ms Lui Su Kian, managing director and head of deposits and secured lending at DBS Bank, told The Straits Times: "Recently, we have observed greater interest in fixed rate programmes in part due to concerns about potential hike of interest rates.

"Discerning homebuyers are also planning ahead and (have) opted for fixed rates programmes while interest rates are still low."

About 30 per cent of DBS customers opted for fixed rate packages in November compared with only 10 per cent in the same month in 2012.

The surge in numbers led the bank to offer a promotional rate of 1.88 per cent for its five-year fixed rate loan in November, which continues to receive positive customer response.

Maybank Singapore, which offers two- and three-year fixed-rate mortgages, said fixed-rate packages have been consistently popular with customers "as (this) provides them with more certainty and financial prudence".

However, other packages such as floating rate mortgages continue to be more popular among customers at other banks.

OCBC, which offers one- and two-year fixed rate home loans, has not seen more customers taking up fixed rate packages.

Ms Phang Lah Hwa, its head of consumer secured lending, added: "We will continue to offer fixed rate packages along with Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (Sibor) and variable rate packages."

ANZ offers a two-year fixed rate package at 1.65 per cent but its three-month "combo package" is the most popular.

The combo rate is an average of the Sibor and the Swap Offer Rate (SOR).

ANZ said the take-up for fixed rate packages remains low as customers want variable rate loans. The three-month combo package, for example, is about 1.3 per cent - 0.3 per cent plus a mark-up of 1 per cent - so it will still be lower than 1.65 per cent fixed rate.

An ANZ spokesman said: "By having an average of Sibor and SOR, customers enjoy the best of both worlds and it takes away the hassle of having to choose between the two rates."

source: Straits Times - 2 Jan 2014

Property Markets Outlook Around The World in 2014: Taiwan

The primary reason why the real estate market is expected to remain stable in Taiwan is the excess of liquidity in the country. The economic forecast of 1.74 per cent growth in 2013 and 2.59 percent in 2014 is likely to lend further support to the local housing market which is already blooming.

Based on statistics from the Ministry of the Interior, 306,476 units were transacted for the first 10 months of this year, reflecting a 13% rise from last year.

The U.S. Federal Reserve moderate scaling back of its monthly bond buying by 10% and its decision to keep short term interest rates exceptionally low ensures that world markets will stay relatively calm and global liquidity levels remain high.

According to Michelle Yeh of Yung Ching Realty, a leading property sales agency, ‘Taiwan’s interest rates will stay low which could serve up growth to sustain the local property market.’

Many consumers are still eager to buy a home as a residential property and that housing transactions in Taiwan for 2014 are expected to continue to grow, while home prices are expected to remain stable and even grow slightly.’

With mild local inflation, some foreign banks are even anticipating that the central bank interest rate will not be raised until the fourth quarter of 2014.

The government plans to fine tune the luxury tax to curb high housing prices.

That said home prices in Hsinchu, Taichung and Tainan could face downward pressure because of a property supply glut.

Authorship: Zen Tan