Below is a list of important changes that are brought with the new mortgage law in Turkey:
New Mortgage Products
Before the mortgage law, it was only possible to lend home loans at fixed interest rates. The law introduced floating interest rates (or a combination of fixed and floating rates) as an additional mortgage type. In floating rate loans, the interest rate is determined from the sum of a fixed margin that is determined by the lender and the inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index. This way banks do not have to face the interest rate risk on their own and may share the risk with the borrowers. In summer of 2007, some banks started to offer variable interest rate loans but so far there does not seem to be much interest in this new type of mortgages and more than 99.9% of the loans are still fixed-interest rate mortgages.
Before the law passed on March 2007, there were some plans about providing tax relief to borrowers, however, the only tax relief mortgage law provided was a minor 5 percent Banking Insurance Operating Tax (BSMV) exemption and abolishment of several other smaller operating fees. As an example, before the law passed a monthly mortgage interest rate of 1.30% would be actually 1.3965%. For a 10 year loan of 100,000 YTL, with BSMV exemption the new mortgage law reduced the monthly payment of 1,722 YTL to 1,650 YTL, about 4.2% reduction in the monthly payments.
Before the mortgage law, Turkish banks could offer only shot-term loans up to a few years. This had a very limiting effect on the real estate economy in Turkey. Because of short maturities and high interest rates, funding of houses was mainly done with savings (60+ percent) and relatives/friends (about 25 per cent). The home loans were only making less than 5 percent of the total housing funding.
With the new law in effect for about 6 months, this picture started to change dramatically. The introduction of the new Turkish mortgage law already made a few banks (e.g., HSBC, Sekerbank and Finansbank) give loans up to 30 years to finance. It is expected that the other lending institutions will offer similar mortgages in the near future as interest rates decrease further and demand for longer mortgages continue to increase.
Before the mortgage law, only deposit, investment and participation banks could issue home loans. Under the new law, however, consumer funding companies are able to issue home loans too. A few mortgage companies are in the process of starting their operations; it is likely that the growing competition will lower the interest rates, which are very high when compared to those of developed countries. Let’s also note that as these new lenders are allowed to invest in capital markets to create funds for the home loans, it is expected that the financial markets will develop and will have indirect positive effects on the rest of the economy.
Early Payment Fee
Before the law, there was no penalty for early payment of the loan, however, due to the pressures from the banks, the new mortgage law included a penalty up to 2% if borrower pays before due date. This early payment fee is only valid for the fixed-interest rate loans. There is no penalty for the adjustable interest rate loans; they can close their accounts any time without incurring a charge.
Securitization of Loans
With the new law, banks are now able to bundle the loans into securities creating covered bonds and mortgage backed securities. Covered mortgage bonds and mortgage backed securities are debt securities backed by cash flows from mortgages and let the banks eliminate or share the mortgage risk with the rest of the world in a secondary market. Let’s also note that Turkey’s sub-investment grade sovereign rating may not be a big problem in the making good deals in the secondary market as covered bonds typically get higher ratings than the sovereign ratings of the countries. Therefore we expect that the secondary mortgage market is likely to stimulate the growth in the mortgage market substantially and decrease the interest rates when it starts to operate in early 2008.