New mortgages to boost home ownership in Saudi Arabia

A new mortgage initiative is expected to give home ownership a boost in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Updated 09 August 2018
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New mortgages to boost home ownership in Saudi Arabia

  • Buyers can tap long-term fixed borrowing
  • Offers protection against rising interest rates

DUBAI: Saudi citizens will be able to apply for cheaper and more accessible mortgages at fixed rates under an initiative launched Wednesday by the Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC), the body set up and backed by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund.
The SRC initiative will allow new or existing borrowers to access facilities to boost their mortgage potential, with at least seven big Saudi Arabian financial institutions taking part to provide new mortgages for home buyers.
Unveiling the scheme in Riyadh, Majed Bin Abdullah Al-Hogail, minister of housing and chairman of SRC, said that the launch of the new funding solution marks the official start of SRC’s strategic plan to help ‘unlock’ the Saudi housing finance market, by broadening and adapting the product offering and by increasing liquidity, thus enabling lenders to offer more accessible home buying options to citizens.
“The importance of this step is stressed when we realize that very few homes are owned through mortgage in Saudi Arabia. This step by SRC, as part of enabling the mortgage finance sector, will allow financial institutions to provide financing solutions of 15 to 20-year fixed rate mortgages to start with,” he added.
SRC has signed deals with Deutsche Gulf Finance, Bidaya Home Finance, Amlak International, Saudi Home Loans, National Commercial Bank, Dar Al Tamleek, and SABB to act as “customer touchpoints” for the new scheme, and other financial institutions are expected to join the network in due course.
The new mortgage facilities will be shariah-compliant, and will help reduce the risk to borrowers exposure to rising global interest rates. US rates are forecast to rise over the next year, with implications for borrowing in dollar-pegged currencies like the Saudi riyal.
“SRC will make a large amount of funding available to the financial institutions we partner with to provide more options of financing. We worked closely with the Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Finance and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency who planned this step and worked hard with us to make it happen,” Fabrice Susini, chef executive of SRC told Arab News.
He declined to say how much funding SRC would make available, explaining that it depended on the demand in the market
“Our objective is to enable these firms to improve the availability of mortgage financing for Saudis, while at the same time introducing long-term fixed rate mortgages into the market as a standard and widely available product for the first time,” Susini said.
Fixed rate long term mortgages have been available in the Kingdom for some time, since the first laws allowing mortgages were passed in 2012. But they are not as widely taken up as in other parts of the world.
“Our role is to make it possible for the ‘average’ Saudi to obtain financing so they can own a home and build equity. We know that many aspiring homeowners look for certainty with their mortgage payments over the longer term.
“The new long-term fixed-rate mortgages meet this need by providing a high degree of predictability and protection from potential interest rate increases. This will give customers the good feeling of having ‘future-proofed’ their mortgage payments, which gives them peace of mind when it comes to their monthly expenses,” Susini said.
Al-Hogail said: “This plan will have a high impact on our goal to increase homeownership to 60 percent by 2020 and 70 percent by 2030, as per the Housing Vision Realization Program.”
Earlier this year the government announced a SR120 billion housing program with the aim of increasing national levels of home ownership.
Real estate industry experts welcomed the move.
David O’Hara, head of property consultants Cluttons’ Saudi Arabia office, said: “Any change to make mortgages more accessible is a good thing for business in general. There is a the ripple effect from home ownership across the economy. Currently entry prices are high and are preventing people from setting up home where they would like to live.”


Iran anti-money laundering law faces challenge as deadline looms

Updated 18 August 2018
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Iran anti-money laundering law faces challenge as deadline looms

  • Iran has been trying to implement standards set by the Financial Action Task Force
  • Foreign businesses say legislation that includes FATF guidelines is essential if they are to increase investment

DUBAI: A top Iranian constitutional body has demanded changes to anti-money laundering measures passed by parliament, state-run media said on Saturday, as Tehran nears a deadline to pass legislation to help it attract investment while facing USsanctions.
Iran has been trying to implement standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental organization which underpins regimes combatting money laundering and terrorist financing. It hopes it will be removed from a blacklist that makes some foreign investors reluctant to deal with it.
In June, FATF said Iran had until October to complete the reforms or face consequences that could further deter investors from the country, which has already been hit by the return of US sanctions. {nL5N1UY39D]
Hard-liners in parliament have opposed legislation aimed at moving toward compliance with FATF standards, arguing it could hamper Iranian financial support for allies such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which the United States has classified as a terrorist organization.
The Guardian Council, which vets legislation passed by parliament for compliance with the constitution, objected to four items in the anti-money laundering amendments and returned the measure to parliament, spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei was quoted by the judiciary’s news agency Mizan as saying.
Kadkhodaei did not give details of the four items, according to Mizan.
Earlier this month, the Guardian Council approved legal amendments on combating the funding of terrorism.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in June parliament should pass legislation to combat money laundering according to its own criteria.
Foreign businesses say legislation that includes FATF guidelines is essential if they are to increase investment.