Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency ( SAMA ) is considering new regulations to unify mortgage rates, which all banks and finance companies have to follow.
" SAMA aims to regulate the loans and mortgage market, and it is considering a further step to fix the rates on mortgage among all banks," said Mohammed A. Al-Shaya, general manger of Control Finance Companies, SAMA.
With the implementation of mortgage system, many local and foreign banks, local and overseas finance companies are expected to join the Saudi market and present the best offers. Experts expect the new mortgage law to fuel the competition among banks, especially when the interests rates are not fixed yet.
However, to regulate the market and ensure the success of the mortgage system, SAMA is considering setting up a unified interest rate.
"To regulate this highly demanding market, SAMA is studying regulating mortgage rates, where all banks and finance companies have to adhere to the rate that SAMA is going to determine," he added.
"Our aim is to facilitate owning houses for Saudis," he said.
On unifying rates, Abdullah Al-Rashoud, CEO of BLOMINVEST Bank, Saudi Arabia, told Arab News that unifying rates at banks is not a healthy idea.
"Such a step will take away the bank's ability to be competitive and eliminate the elements of product creativity and distinction from banks. The suggested regulation for unifying lending rates might marginalize some market segments by discouraging banks from lending to higher risk clients like low income people, elders, and bad credit score individuals," he said.
According to Al-Rashoud, SAMA should not focus its attention on mortgage products creation, but rather on only placing the general outline and regulation for the market.
When asked about using a declining outstanding principal method in calculating the interest payments, Al-Rashoud said: "Asking banks to calculate mortgage payments by following the declining outstanding principal method instead of the one currently being used will work in greatly stimulating the debt market in Saudi Arabia."
According to Al-Rashoud, unifying rates in addition to other factors will allow bank clients to pay 44 percent less interest amount than what they are paying today.
Al-Rashoud stated that mortgage law would increase the purchasing power for Saudi families and residents.
"It will definitely aid in increasing the number of home owners in the country from its low levels today. Most units are being sold today for a price between SR 500,000 to SR 2,500,000," he said.
Fahad Al-Turki, head of research department at Jadwa Investment, told Arab news that the impact of the new regulation will remain gradual.
"Such a step means that the rate on mortgage loans will be calculated on annual basis by all banks and other mortgage finance companies while we think the impact of the law on the financial sector is likely to remain gradual," he said.
According to Al-Turki, the regulation sets the general guidelines and leave room for banks and other loan providers to compete and set the annual rate on such loans.