Industry players expect more homeowners to refinance their mortgage loans

By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 24 March 2008 1849 hrs

SINGAPORE: Industry watchers expect more home owners to consider refinancing their mortgage loans as interest rates look set to dip further.

In fact, mortgage and financial planning firm SingCapital has seen a three-fold jump in enquiries in the last two months.

Property agents are also getting a crash course in mortgage planning, including answering questions about refinancing of home loans.

This occurs when homeowners seek out more favourable loan packages from other lenders.

Industry players said it's the right time to refinance, which could save a huge amount in interest payments.

Alfred Chia, CEO of SingCapital, said: “Just from last year itself, interest rate could be as high as four per cent, compared to current rates where the average is about 2.5 per cent per annum. There's a big difference over there. Based on what we can see, interest rates will continue to fall, till the next six months."

Market watchers expect interest rates to fall a further half a percentage point in the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate or SIBOR by September.

It's partly linked to the recent cuts in US interest rates to contain the fallout from the sub-prime crisis.

SingCapital said it receives about 60 enquiries on refinancing each month.

Among these, seven in ten are private property owners.

Banks have also been enticing more customers with Maybank, Standard Chartered Bank and DBS among the most aggressive in the home loans market.

Mr Chia added: "There're some packages currently that offer 2.88 fixed for three years with a cash back of one percent. If it's a refinancing case, the one percent cash back would be given to the owners one month after the loans is disbursed.

“So if you add this interest rate, minus the cash rebates, the cumulative rate is only seven over percent, on average every year it's about 2.5 or 2.6 per cent interest.

“And it gives you the stability to plan for other finances, knowing that your monthly instalment for the house is going to be fixed at that price for the next three years.

Even though this may look like a good time to consider refinancing mortgage loans, industry players said home owners should assess the different packages based on their individual needs.

They should also be aware of the potential risks arising from the US sub-prime crisis and inflation. - CNA/vm