Bread & Butter Properties

Bread & Butter Properties
Generate passive rental income

Friday, January 7, 2011

Impact of 70% cap on third housing loan on rental properties

Happy 2011! It has been a while since my last update. I have been meaning to write on this issue but proscrastination over the Christmas and New Year's period got the better of me. Plus, I have been trying to analyze the impact on this whole business of acquiring rental property for income.

On 3 Nov 2010, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) announced , that it was imposing a 70% loan-to-value (LTV) ratio on third housing loan for banks. This was done in an effort to cool down the housing market that was perceived to be "bubbling" especially in high end developments. What it means is that if you have 2 housing loans already, for the third the LTV will only be up to 70% - so, this would affect investors who purchase more than two properties. While this was targeted at those speculating in high end bungalows and condos, unfortunately it also includes all other residential properties like our "bread and butter" ones, which cost between RM80k to RM150k. This measure does not distinguish between a third loan on a RM1.0m bungalow in Setia Eco Park and a third loan on RM100k flat in Setapak. It all gets tarred with the same broad brush.

So, what's the impact on acquiring rental property for income?
- For one, its now much harder to buy with "no money down" (except on the first 2 properties, of course); the lower 70% LTV combined with banks being more cautious on its valuation of property means it is difficult to get away with buying a property and it being totally financed by the bank.
- But then again, on the positive side is that you don't need to shop around the banks to see if any of them would give you better financing on your 3rd, 4th or 5th rental properties; it should now be 70% (or less).
- secondly, it is now more tedious to refinance existing rental properties; like me I have some loans which are abiout 3 to 4 years old, which I managed to get at high LTV but now, if I were to refinance it with another bank - it's only going to be 70%, which is not attractive. Further, the prices of these property haven't gone up that much, that I am able to withdraw some descent equity (at 70% LTV).

Given the above, its no wonder that BNM reported that housing loan approvals were down 10% in Dec 10 vs. last year, as the market adjusts to these new guidelines.

So, what can you do, in light of this new guideline?
- well, if you already have some rental properties, and you can't refinance it, there's always the option of increasing your rent. Yes, why not? Since the price of everything from a bowl of noodles, cotton, cooking oil to RON 97 petrol has gone up, why shouldn't rental also go up. Since late last year, I have increased rental by about 10%. A 2R1B unit which used to rent for RM550/mth is now RM580/mth, for 3R2B rental is now RM750/mth (vs. RM700/mth previously) and tenants don't complain. They just pay.  That helps to maintain your margins; making sure you get enough positive cashflow every month, and as a buffer, when BNM eventually increase interest rates some time later this year.        

- the second thing one can do with the 70% cap on third housing loan is just to put up more equity into the property. Hence, the amount borrowed would be much lower than if you had financed it at 80 or 90%. As such, given rates are still at low levels, you will experience higher positive cash flow every month. This would hopefully compensate you for the opportunity cost of having more money "tied up" in the property.

I believe this measure would be temporary and BNM will likely revise or at least fine tune it; as it stands currently, the banks will find it even more difficult to grow their residential loans book. Already most are now turning to focus on commercial properties instead. So, keep yourself updated on the developments as the landscape of the real estate market changes rapidly.

Happy investing in 2011.


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