South Africa needs to rethink its home loan options: BetterBond

South Africa needs more home loan options to make home ownership more accessible, says Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of bond originator, BetterBond.

“In response to the increasingly diverse financial backgrounds and capabilities of home buyers, we need a greater variety of home loan packages to suit different types of borrower,” he said.

For most consumers, affordability is not really about the total price but about the effective cost, or size of the monthly repayment.

“When it comes to vehicles, for example, they would rather finance over 54 or 60 months and keep the instalment down than pay over 36 months and cut the total cost of the item.

“And with the average length of stay in a home having dropped from 10 to 15 years to five or seven years at most, consumers are beginning to think this way about home loans too – and look for ways to get the most home possible for the lowest possible deposit and smallest possible monthly repayment,” Rademeyer said.

“This is what they’re really shopping for, and at the very least suggests the need for more loans structured to be repaid over 25 to 30 years instead of the traditional 20 years.”

On the other hand, Rademeyer noted, homebuyers with no plans to move, who are perhaps nearing retirement age or living on a fixed income and want to know their exact monthly payments, would no doubt prefer loans at a fixed rate of interest for the long term.

“However, at the moment, borrowers can usually only fix rates for a year or two, and they have to pay a ‘penalty’ interest rate that is one to two percent above the standard home loan rate for seeking this kind of certainty.”

Then there are property investors who would probably be delighted with the financial flexibility—and added cash flow—that would come from a mortgage with an initial interest-only period, he said.

Rademeyer said that lenders need to become more innovative and flexible with their product offerings.

He said that local lenders could learn from banks in the UK and the US, which constantly come up with new loan options designed to appeal to specific types or groups of borrowers.

“Even in Australia, there are more than 1,000 home loan variants available at any one time, the idea being to make home ownership as accessible to as many people as possible. And it must be said that this type of flexibility in no way interferes with consumer protection as provided for in the National Credit Act and the Consumer Protection Act.”

Read: This is the average bond size in South Africa

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South Africa needs to rethink its home loan options: BetterBond