Inject more flexibility in granting property loans

I was very glad to read that the Monetary Authority of Singapore has tweaked rules on the refinancing of loans ("More flexible rules to help with property refinancing"; last Friday).

This will allow borrowers to take advantage of a lower cost of borrowing.

This is especially helpful for those of the baby-boomer generation who are due to retire and to refinance their mortgage loans.

Many of them may not have sufficient income to repay their loans, and it would be disastrous for them to sell their property, given the current market conditions.

Those who live in Housing Board flats have access to the Lease Buyback Scheme, but such a scheme is not available to private property owners.

Mortgage obligation is an important area where the Government can help seniors.

Their life insurance policies could also be considered as a source of repayment.

Banks in Singapore seem to adopt a very rigid interpretation of the rules.

My son and his wife, both of whom are young doctors, had applied for a mortgage loan for a new property.

My son was two months away from completing his national service as a medical officer, was bonded by the Government for his medical study, and had his residency at the National University Hospital confirmed.

However, the banks were unable to take these factors into consideration. This seems too inflexible to me.

It is necessary to avoid a bubble in our property market. But MAS' criteria for property loans should have sufficient flexibility built in.

Koh Kah Yeok

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2016, with the headline 'Inject more flexibility in granting property loans'. Print Edition | Subscribe