Date: Jul 02, 2012 Master Circular – Housing Finance
July 2, 2012
All Scheduled Commercial Banks
Master Circular – Housing Finance
Please refer to the Master Circular DBOD No. Dir. BC. 03 /08.12.001/2011-12 dated July 1, 2011 consolidating the instructions / guidelines issued to banks till that date relating to Housing Finance. The Master Circular has been suitably updated by incorporating the instructions issued up to June 30, 2012 and has also been placed on the RBI website (http://www.rbi.org.in). A copy of the Master Circular is enclosed.
Encl: as above
Master Circular – Housing Finance
To consolidate framework of rules/regulations and clarification on Housing Finance issued by Reserve Bank of India from time to time.
A statutory directive issued by the Reserve Bank in exercise of the powers conferred by Sections 21 and 35 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
C. Previous instructions consolidated
This Master Circular consolidates and updates all the instructions contained in Circulars listed in the appendix and clarifications issued during the year.
D. Scope of Application
Applicable to all Scheduled Commercial Banks, excluding Regional Rural Banks.
In pursuance of National Housing Policy of Central Government, Reserve Bank of India has been facilitating the flow of credit to housing sector. Since housing has emerged as one of the sectors attracting a large quantum of bank finance, the current focus of RBI’s regulation is to ensure orderly growth of housing loan portfolios of banks.
1.1.1 National Housing Policy
As a part of the strategy to overcome the colossal housing shortage, the Central Government adopted a comprehensive National Housing Policy which, among other things, envisaged:
Banks with their vast branch network throughout the length and breadth of the country occupy a very strategic position in the financial system and were required to play an important role in providing credit to the housing sector in consonance with the National Housing Policy.
1.1.2 Housing Finance Allocation
Keeping in view the objectives of National Housing Finance Policy, RBI was announcing minimum housing finance allocation annually on the basis of the growth of deposits recorded during the previous year till the year 2002-03. Banks could deploy their funds under the housing finance allocation in any of the three categories, i.e.
2. DIRECT HOUSING FINANCE
2.1 Direct Housing Finance refers to the finance provided to individuals or groups of individuals including co-operative societies.
2.2 Banks are free to evolve their own guidelines with the approval of their Boards on aspects such as security, margin, age of dwelling units, repayment schedule, etc.
2.3 Other Guidelines
The following types of bank finance may be included under Direct Housing Finance:
(a) Banks may consider requests for additional finance within the overall ceiling for carrying out alterations/ additions/repairs to the house/flat already financed by them.
(b) In the case of individuals who might have raised funds for construction/ acquisition of accommodation from other sources and need supplementary finance, banks may extend such finance after obtaining paripassu or second mortgage charge over the property mortgaged in favour of other lenders and/or against such other security, as they may deem appropriate.
3. INDIRECT HOUSINGFINANCE
Banks should ensure that their indirect housing finance is channeled by way of term loans to housing finance institutions, housing boards, other public housing agencies, etc., primarily for augmenting the supply of serviced land and constructed units. It should also be ensured that the supply of plots/houses is time bound and public agencies do not utilise the bank loans merely for acquisition of land. Similarly, serviced plots should be sold by these agencies to co-operative societies, professional developers and individuals with a stipulation that the houses should be constructed thereon within a reasonable time, not exceeding three years. For this purpose, the banks may take advantage of various guidelines issued by NHB for augmenting the supply of serviced land and constructed units.
3.2 Lending to Housing Intermediary Agencies
3.2.1 Lending to Housing Finance Institutions
(i) Banks may grant term loans to housing finance institutions taking into account (long-term) debt-equity ratio, track record, recovery performance and other relevant factors.
(ii) In terms of NHB guidelines, housing finance companies’ total borrowings, whether by way of deposits, issue of debentures/ bonds, loans and advances from banks or from financial institutions including any loans obtained from NHB, should not exceed 16 times of their net owned funds (i.e. paid-up capital and free reserves less accumulated balance of loss, deferred revenue expenditure and intangible assets).
(iii) All housing finance companies registered with NHB are eligible to apply for refinance from NHB and will be eligible subject to the refinance policy. The quantum of term loan to be sanctioned to them will not be linked to net owned fund as NHB has already prescribed the above referred ceiling on total borrowing of housing finance companies. A list of housing finance companies registered with NHB may be obtained by the banks directly from NHB or downloaded from http://www.nhb.org.in.
3.2.2 Lending to Housing Boards and Other Agencies
Banks may extend term loans to state level housing boards and other public agencies. However, in order to develop a healthy housing finance system, while doing so, the banks must not only keep in view the past performance of these agencies in the matter of recovery from the beneficiaries but they should also stipulate that the Boards will ensure prompt and regular recovery of loan installments from the beneficiaries.
3.2.3 Financing of Land Acquisition
In view of the need to increase the availability of land and house sites for increasing the housing stock in the country, banks may extend finance to public agencies and not private builders for acquisition and development of land, provided it is a part of the complete project, including development of infrastructure such as water systems, drainage, roads, provision of electricity, etc. Such credit may be extended by way of term loans. The project should be completed as early as possible and, in any case, within three years, so as to ensure quick re-cycling of bank funds for optimum results. If the project covers construction of houses, credit extended therefore in respect of individual beneficiaries should be on the same terms and conditions as stipulated for direct finance.
It has been observed that while financing real estate developers, certain banks were found to be valuing the land for the purpose of security, on the basis of the discounted value of the property after it is developed, less the cost of development. This is not in conformity with established norms. In this connection, it is advised that banks should have a Board approved policy in place for valuation of properties including collaterals accepted for their exposures and that valuation should be done by professionally qualified independent valuers. As regards the valuation of land for the purpose of financing of land acquisition as also land secured as collateral, banks may be guided as under:
3.2.4 Terms and Conditions for Lending to Housing Intermediary Agencies
(i) In order to enhance the flow of resources to housing sector, term loans may be granted by banks to housing intermediary agencies against the direct loans sanctioned/ proposed to be sanctioned by the latter, irrespective of the per borrower size of the loan extended by these agencies.
(ii) Banks can grant term loans to housing intermediary agencies against the direct loans sanctioned/proposed to be sanctioned by them to Non-Resident Indians also. However, banks should ensure that housing finance intermediary agencies being financed by them, are authorised by RBI to grant housing loans to NRIs as all housing finance intermediaries are not authorised by RBI to provide housing finance to NRIs.
(iii) Banks have freedom to charge interest rates to housing intermediary agencies without reference to Benchmark Prime Lending Rates (BPLR)upto June 30, 2010. Under the Base Rate System effective from July 1, 2010, all categories of loans will be priced with reference to Base Rate which is the minimum interest rate for all loans.
3.3 Term Loans to Private Builders
3.3.1 In view of the important role played by professional builders as providers of construction services in the housing field, especially where land is acquired and developed by State Housing Boards and other public agencies, commercial banks may extend credit to private builders on commercial terms by way of loans linked to each specific project. However, the banks are not permitted to extend fund based or non-fund based facilities to private builders for acquisition of land even as part of a housing project. The period of credit for loans extended by banks to private builders may be decided by banks themselves based on their commercial judgement subject to usual safeguards and after obtaining such security, as banks may deem appropriate. Such credit may be extended to builders of repute, employing professionally qualified personnel. It should be ensured, through close monitoring, that no part of such funds is used for any speculation in land.
Care should also be taken to see that prices charged from the ultimate beneficiaries do not include any speculative element, that is, prices should be based only on the documented price of land, the actual cost of construction and a reasonable profit margin.
3.3.2 It is advised that banks should adhere to the National Building Code (NBC) formulated by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in view of the importance of safety of buildings especially against natural disasters. Banks may consider this aspect for incorporation in their loan policies.Banks should also adopt the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines and suitably incorporate them as part of their loan policies, procedures and documentation.
3.3.3 ncorporating clause in the terms and conditions to disclose in Pamphlets / Brochures / advertisements information regarding mortgage of property to the bank
In a case which came up before the Hon’ble High Court of Judicature at Bombay, the Hon’ble Court observed that the bank granting finance to housing / development projects should insist on disclosure of the charge / or any other liability on the plot, in the brochure, pamphlets etc., which may be published by developer / owner inviting public at large to purchase flats and properties. The Court also added that this obviously would be part of the terms and conditions on which the loan may be sanctioned by the bank. Keeping in view the above, while granting finance to specific housing / development projects, banks are advised to stipulate as a part of the terms and conditions that:
(i) the builder / developer / company would disclose in the Pamphlets / Brochures etc., the name(s) of the bank(s) to which the property is mortgaged.
(ii) the builder / developer / company would append the information relating to mortgage while publishing advertisement of a particular scheme in newspapers / magazines etc.
(iii) the builder / developer / company would indicate in their pamphlets / brochures, that they would provide No Objection Certificate (NOC) / permission of the mortgagee bank for sale of flats / property, if required.
Banks are also advised to ensure compliance of the above terms and conditions and funds should not be released unless the builder/developer/company fulfils the above requirements.
On a review, it has been decided that the above mentioned provisions will be mutatis-mutandis, applicable to Commercial Real Estate also.
4. HOUSING LOANS UNDER PRIORITY SECTOR
Banks may refer to the Master Circular on Lending to Priority Sector issued by Rural Planning and Credit Department.
5. RBI REFINANCE
Finance provided by the banks would not be eligible for refinance from Reserve Bank.
6. CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES ELIGIBLE FOR BANK CREDIT AS HOUSING FINANCE
The following types of bank credit will be eligible for being treated as housing finance:
7. CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES NOT ELIGIBLE FOR BANK CREDIT
7.1 Banks should not grant finance for construction of buildings meant purely for Government/Semi-Government offices, including Municipal and Panchayat offices. However, banks may grant loans for activities, which will be refinanced by institutions like NABARD.
7.2 Projects undertaken by public sector entities which are not corporate bodies (i.e. public sector undertakings which are not registered under Companies Act or which are not Corporations established under the relevant statute) may not be financed by banks. Even in respect of projects undertaken by corporate bodies, as defined above, banks should satisfy themselves that the project is run on commercial lines and that bank finance is not in lieu of or to substitute budgetary resources envisaged for the project. The loan could, however, supplement budgetary resources if such supplementing was contemplated in the project design. Thus, in the case of a housing project, where the project is run on commercial lines, and the Government is interested in promoting the project either for the benefit of the weaker sections of the society or otherwise, and a part of the project cost is met by the Government through subsidies made available and/or contributions to the capital of the institutions taking up the project, the bank finance should be restricted to an amount arrived at after reducing from the total project cost the amount of subsidy/capital contribution receivable from the Government and any other resources proposed to be made available by the Government.
7.3 Banks had, in the past, sanctioned term loans to Corporations set up by Government like State Police Housing Corporation, for construction of residential quarters for allotment to employees where the loans were envisaged to be repaid out of budgetary allocations. As these projects cannot be considered to be run on commercial lines, it would not be in order for banks to grant loans to such projects.
Banks should compile the data relating to Housing Finance at half-yearly intervals on the lines of format given in Annex and keep it ready for being made available to the bank’s internal inspectors/RBI’s inspectors.
9. HOME LOAN ACCOUNT SCHEME (HLAS) OF NHB
9.1 Foreclosure of Loans Obtained from Other Sources
9.1.1 Under the HLAS, a member of HLAS is eligible for a loan after subscription to the scheme for a minimum period of 5 years. The member has to declare while joining the scheme/availing loan that he/ she does not own a house/flat. However, a member may acquire a house or a flat from a public agency/co-operative/ private builder by obtaining a loan from a bank at the normal rate of interest or from friends and relatives or through a hire-purchase scheme of Housing Board/ Development Authority. Thereafter, when the member becomes eligible for a loan under HLAS, he/she may approach the bank for such a loan to repay the loan(s) raised earlier from other sources.
9.1.2 There is no objection to bank loans under HLAS being utilised for foreclosing loans secured earlier from other sources, as a special case.
9.2 Classification of Deposits/Loans under HLAS
Under HLAS, the participating bank is required to accept deposits on behalf of NHB and make use of these deposits by way of refinance under any scheme approved by NHB from time to time. The surplus funds, if any, not so utilised (i.e. excess of deposits over refinance) can either be remitted by the participating bank to NHB or retained by it, subject to compliance with the statutory reserve requirements as under:
10. BANK’S EXPOSURE TO REAL ESTATE SECTOR
While the development of real estate is welcome, there is a need for the banks to curb the excessively risky lending by exercising selectivity and strengthening the loan approval process. Banks should ensure that the borrowers should have obtained prior permission from government/local governments/other statutory authorities for the project, wherever required. While the proposals could be sanctioned in normal course, the disbursements should be made only after the borrower has obtained requisite clearances from the government authorities.
11. RISK WEIGHT ON HOUSING FINANCE
Banks may refer to Master Circular on Prudential guidelines on Capital Adequacy and Market Discipline – Implementation of the New Capital Adequacy Frame Work.
12. LOAN TO VALUE (LTV) RATIO
In order to prevent excessive leveraging, the LTV ratio in respect of housing loans should not exceed 80 per cent. However, for small value housing loans i.e. housing loans up to Rs. 20 lakh (which get categorized as priority sector advances), the LTV ratio should not exceed 90 per cent.
It has been brought to our notice that banks adopt different practices for deciding the value of the house property while sanctioning housing loans. Some banks include stamp duty, registration and other documentation charges in the cost of the house property. This overstates the realisable value of the property as stamp duty, registration and other documentation charges are not realisable and consequently the margin stipulated gets diluted. Accordingly, banks should not include these charges in the cost of the housing property they finance so that the effectiveness of LTV norms is not diluted.
13. DELHI HIGH COURT ORDER ON UNAUTHORISED CONSTRUCTION
The Monitoring Committee constituted by the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi regarding Unauthorised Construction, Misuse of Properties and Encroachment on Public Land, has issued the following directions for immediate compliance by the banks/ Financial Institutions.
A. Housing Loan for building construction
i) In cases where the applicant owns a plot/land and approaches the banks/FIs for a credit facility to construct a house, a copy of the sanctioned plan by competent authority in the name of a person applying for such credit facility must be obtained by the Banks/FIs before sanctioning the home loan.
ii) An affidavit-cum-undertaking must be obtained from the person applying for such credit facility that he shall not violate the sanctioned plan, construction shall be strictly as per the sanctioned plan and it shall be the sole responsibility of the executants to obtain completion certificate within 3 months of completion of construction, failing which the bank shall have the power and the authority to recall the entire loan with interest, costs and other usual bank charges.
iii) An Architect appointed by the bank must also certify at various stages of construction of building that the construction of the building is strictly as per sanctioned plan and shall also certify at a particular point of time that the completion certificate of the building issued by the competent authority has been obtained.
B. Housing Loan for purchase of constructed property/ built up property
i) In cases where the applicant approaches the bank/FIs for a credit facility to purchase the built up house/flat, it should be mandatory for him to declare by way of an affidavit-cum-undertaking that the built up property has been constructed as per the sanctioned plan and/or building bye-laws and as far as possible has a completion certificate also.
ii) An Architect appointed by the bank must also certify before disbursement of the loan that the built up property is strictly as per sanctioned plan and/or building bye-laws.
C. Unauthorised colonies
No loan should be given in respect of those properties which fall in the category of unauthorized colonies unless and until they have been regularized and development and other charges paid.
D. Commercial Property
No loan should also be given in respect of properties meant for residential use but which the applicant intends to use for commercial purposes and declares so while applying for loan.
14. TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR BANKS’ INVESTMENT IN MORTGAGE BACKED SECURITIES (MBS)
14.1 Banks’ investments in MBS should satisfy the following terms and conditions:
(i) The right, title, and interest of an HFC in securitised housing loans and receivables there under should irrevocably be assigned in favour of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) / Trust.
(ii) Mortgaged securities underlying the securitised housing loans should be held exclusively on behalf of and for the benefit of the investors by the SPV/Trust.
(iii) The SPV or Trust should be entitled to the receivables under the securitised loans with an arrangement for distribution of the same to the investors as per the terms of the issue of MBS. Such an arrangement may provide for appointment of the originating HFC as the servicing and paying agent. However, the originating HFC participating in a securitisation transaction as a seller, manager, servicer or provider of credit enhancement of liquidity facilities,
(iv) The loans to be securitised should be loans advanced to individuals for acquiring /constructing residential houses which should have been mortgaged to the HFC by way of exclusive first charge.
(v) The loans to be securitised should be accorded an investment grade credit rating by any of the credit rating agencies at the time of assignment to the SPV.
(vi) The investors should be entitled to call upon the issuer-SPV to take steps for recovery in the event of default and distribute the net proceeds to the investors as per the terms of issue of MBS.
(vii) The SPV undertaking the issue of MBS should not be engaged in any business other than the business of issue and administration of MBS of individual housing loans.
(viii) The SPV or Trustees appointed to manage the issue of MBS should have to be governed by the provisions of Indian Trust Act, 1882.
14.2 If the issue of MBS is in accordance with the terms and conditions stated in above paragraph and includes irrevocable transfer of risk and reward of housing loan assets to the SPV / Trust, investment in such MBS by any bank would not be reckoned as an exposure on the HFC originating the securitised housing loan. However, it would be treated as an exposure on the underlying assets of the SPV/ Trust.
List of Circulars consolidated by Master Circular on Housing Finance