A mortgage is a loan taken out to buy a house with the house acting as the collateral. This bears repeating. A mortgage is loan just like any other.
For the borrowers
Things to consider are;
- Can you afford a mortgage? A mortgage will rarely ever be less than your monthly rental. By itself. Once you add council rates, utility bills, furnishing, maintainance bills (these will be there whether the boma is new or old), you'll see your monthly costs go up by a third of your rent. So you must look at the likely monthly repayments. Your mortgage repayments will depend on...
- Price of property: Prices have rocketed in Kenya though the upmarket areas are now seeing a much needed cooling off. I think the key driver was the cash-only buyers primarily remittances and these are already falling off. However, the lower end of the market has sufficient demand to see it continue growing but I doubt we'll ever see the frentic pace in the upmarket areas. Websites that will get you a feel for prices are many but a few are villacare; estates.co.ke; hassconsult; nyumbanet and uzanunua. Many think that there is a bubble in the market and this may well restrict your resell price should there be a marked corection.
- Your deposit: The higher the deposit you put down, the lower the loan you need to borrow. And of course the lower the amount you want to borrow, the more interest rate options you get. The key criteria is always, are you better off reducing your monthly mortgage repayments compared to earning a return in some other form of investment. Put another way, can you invest the deposit in another venture that gives you more than say the 15% interest rate that you will save by oputting the deposit down? However, its rare in Kenya to get 100% mortgages so some deposit will be required.
- Interest rates: There are two things you need to know about interest rates generally, the current rate and the future expectations of where interest rates will go. There are two types of interest rate deals that are currently offered in Kenya. Current interest rates are set depending on amount you want to borrow and duration (term) you want to borrow for. Variable interest which basically means that it moves as general interest rates. So future expectations become of added importance. And initially fixed interest rates. I have put together a little table that I'll update from time to time.
- Monthly repayments: From the above, you should now have the bits that will help you decide what type of house you'll buy based on its monthly/annual cost. You just need to plug the numbers into this Excel equation... = PMT(interest rate/12,term*12,property price less your deposit). Alternatively, go here and input the same numbers to get your monthly payment.
- Location: This is a feature unique to Kenya where some banks only offer mortgages in specified towns. Reason is obvious.
For the lenders:
Important factors. With mortgages, its as important for the borrower to know what the bank will look for before lending.
- Income expenditure gap: Most lenders want to know that should they have to or decide to jack up interest rates, there is enough of a gap in your income-expnditure to allow for this. So for example CBA won't allow repauyments that sccount for more than 50% of your monnthly income.
- Loan to value ratio: aka LTV. Should be no greater than 80% or anticipated price correction at time of appplication.
- Income mulitples: Simply put this is the ratio of your annual gross salary to mortgage amount required. Prudence dictates that this shouldn't be more than 4 times.
- Screening reqquirements: Many banks tend to have more onerous requirements when they want to reduce lending and vice versa when they want to increase it.
- Other mortgage set up costs: These are noticeably higher in Kenya and include stamp duty, legal, processing fees et al.
- Take a mortgage to suit your stage in life. If you are young or have a young family, you'll surely be making a move to another house at sometime in your life. Therefore, consider a mortgage as you'd any other investment. Without getting emotional.
- Late edit: If you are in the diaspora, avoid if you can, taking a mortgage in Kenya and if you already have one, exchange it. The difference in interest rates is just too big especially now. Instead, borrow from a local bank at a lower interest rate and buy the property or pay off your Kenyan loan. Kama ni makaratasi, find somebody who can do this in exchange for your title deed and an agreement.
BTW: the word mortgage is of French origin and literally means dead pledge.