In light of the opportunities that Government is providing financial institutions as part of its aggressive housing development plan, the New Building Society (NBS) has introduced a host of relief measures on mortgages, such as reduced interest rates and a higher loan ceiling, in order to make homeownership more affordable.
This was revealed by NBS Chairman Dr Nanda Gopaul during a press conference on Wednesday. He explained that the bank, which mainly deals with home loans, has committed to Government to release approximately $20 billion of its cash resources to support the aggressive housing drive across the country.
To this end, Gopaul disclosed, effective from September, the interest rate for loans from $1 million to $4 million has been reduced now to 3.50 per cent instead of 4 per cent. For loans above $4 million up to $9 million, the interest has been reduced from 5.95 per cent to now 3.75 per cent. An interest rate of 5.70 per cent, instead of the previous 5.95 per cent, is now applied to the loan bracket of above $9 million up to to $20 million.
With these slashed interest rates, some 9,634 NBS borrowers would benefit from the reduction of $210 million in their installments for 2022 and the duration of the loan period.
According to the NBS Chairman, “We recognised that interest rates in this country were high, and we believe that if we want to make it affordable, we ought to start; and as one of the leading housing institutions in this country, we’ve [been] here for a long, long time – we decided that we were going to set the lead and reduce the interest rates… We believe that the time has come for our Society, operating as long as we have been, to give back to our customers – our borrowers, our mortgagers, our families.”
This, Gopaul noted, was done having taken into consideration the increase in building costs.
In addition to the reduced interest rates, NBS has also increased its loan ceiling from $15 million to $20 million, and with the slashed rates, borrowers will still be paying approximately the same installments.
Next year, the bank would also change the interest calculation to that of reducing the monthly balance upon the payment of every monthly sum due from January.
Further, NBS has removed the stipulation for persons to have a certain amount of money at the commencement of the construction phase. The Chairman pointed out that since Government will be making cement and steel rods available free of cost to new home builders, then this will qualify borrowers to draw down on immediate instalments from the Society for the purpose of continuing their building.
Another new measure that the bank has rolled out is that existing customers can now upgrade their homes by improving their loan amounts to facilitate the expansion works.The NBS Chairman went on to note that these initiatives are geared towards making NBS the preferred and leading home mortgage bank.
“The Society believes this is a golden opportunity that persons who are holders of Government house lots around the country should take immediate steps to cash in on the NBS’s concessionary loan approvals at this point in our country’s history. There are no impediments in you owning your own home, once you have a transport or title for a house lot…”
“The Society wants to make housing loans not only affordable, but also easily accessible to every Guyanese holder of house lots. So, they need not hesitate, or they need not have any fear over repayment affordability, since the repayment in most instances is cheaper than having to rent properties.”
“In these circumstances, therefore, we urge all Guyanese who are owners of vacant lots with titles or transport to visit any of our offices to be facilitated with a mortgage with ease,” Gopaul said.
Meanwhile, the NBS Chairman further disclosed that of the nearly 500 persons pre-qualified for loans at last month’s International Building Expo, some 302 loans have already been approved.
He stated that this is reflective of the reduced time at which the bank is now operating to process home loans.
NBS now takes 24 hours to approve the mortgage, after which the filing of documents to the Deeds Registry and other Government agencies should be done within 48 hours, thus reducing the waiting time for borrowers to access their approved funds.
“Never in the history of the Society that we process so many loans in such a short period of time. In fact, what we have done over the last month and a half would’ve taken the Society six months to do,” the Chairman stated.
Only last Friday, President Dr Irfaan Ali announced that Government has partnered with NBS and another bank to help finance the construction of homes in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo).
NBS will be providing $2 million loans to some 300 borrowers at the rate of 3.50 per cent. As such, the bank will be constructing an office in Lethem. Gopaul disclosed that land has already been procured, and they are now ironing out the details to get started on that project. In the meantime, the bank will set up a temporary office in the region to start processing loans for the housing development in the region.
In fact, NBS will be sending a team, led by Board Directors, to the region in the coming days to either look at the commencement of construction immediately or rent a space for its temporary office.
Additionally, the Society is looking to collaborate with the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) – the other bank supporting the housing initiative in Region Nine.
In addition to the Lethem branch, NBS is working on the construction of three other new locations across the country – along the West Coast Demerara, the East Bank Demerara, and the East Coast Demerara corridor.