Saturday, April 25, 2015

Unfair housing loan agreement

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Unfair housing loan agreement

Saturday, 28 March 2015
 
MOST if not all house buyers will require financing to buy their dream homes. While there appears to be stiff competition among banks for market share and interest rates may be kept low, house buyers are ultimately at the mercy of banks when it comes to the detailed terms and conditions of the housing loan. (Banks in this context refers to commercial banks, Islamic banks and other financial institutions).
Unfair legal fees
When a borrower takes a housing loan, the borrower is required to execute a loan and other related agreements. This entails the borrower having to pay legal fees, the amount of which varies, depending on the loan amount – the higher the loan amount, the higher the legal fees although the complicity and level of work does not necessarily commensurate directly with the loan amount.

 
Although it is the borrower paying the loan lawyers’ fees, the said loan lawyer is actually acting for and on behalf of the bank. As such, the loan lawyer is not in the best position to advise the borrower if there are clauses in the loan agreement which are not in the best interest of the borrower.
In addition, in the event of any dispute between the borrower and the bank, the borrower cannot ask the loan lawyer for advice as the loan lawyer is acting for the banks.
If this is the case, then is it “fair or equitable” for the borrower to pay such legal fees when it is clear that the lawyer is actually acting for the banks? Obviously not. Hence, the bank should absorb the legal fees as the lawyers are clearly there to act for the bank and protect its interest.
Exorbitant fees for simple letters
The banking sector in Malaysia is a very tightly regulated industry. Any fees that banks intend to charge must be approved by Bank Negara. It is disheartening to note that borrowers continue to be charged exorbitant fees which seem to have the explicit blessings and consent of Bank Negara. Instances of borrowers being charged unreasonable fees for copies of redemption statement, EPF statement letter etc are common.
Allocation of monthly repayment to principal and interest
This is a story about three friends who took a housing loan (HL) of RM500,000 ten years ago. They were offered the same HL interest rate of 4.2% (base lending rate of 6.60% less 2.40%) but took different loan tenures as follows:
Albert took a 20-year HL. Eric took a 25-year HL and Jamie took a 30-year HL.
After servicing their monthly loan instalments diligently for the past 10 years, they decided to fully settle their housing loan using a combination of their EPF monies and own savings. When they asked for a redemption statement to find out what was the principal sum outstanding, they received a shock of their lives.
Albert, Eric and Jamie were under the impression as they had served 50%, 40% and 33.3% of the loan tenure, their principal sum outstanding would be RM250,000, RM300,0000 and RM333,333 respectively.
 
So, when their respective redemption statement showed that Albert, Eric and Jamie still owed respectively RM301,654, RM359,415 and RM396,652, they got a big shock.
So, why did they still owe so much more than what they had thought? The answer lies in the allocation of the monthly instalment towards covering the principal sum and interest charged by the bank.
In an equitable world, the monthly instalments would be allocated on a “straight line basis” to cover the principle and interest charged. Thus, a borrower who served 10 out of a 20-year HL would only owe 50% of the original loan amount.
However, the reality is that the borrower still owes 60.3% of the original loan amount.
The typical borrower will always be “penalised” for settling his loan before the maturity date. Even in the penultimate year of the original loan tenure, the actual amount outstanding is still higher than the theoretical amount, which should be the amount outstanding had the allocation of monthly instalments been done on a straight line basis.
Is it fair and equitable?
Most borrowers do not know or even understand how this allocation is calculated. Is such an allocation “fair and equitable” to the borrower? Under such circumstances, are borrowers supposed to accept that the bank’s own generated computer system has calculated the interest correctly and allocated the payments in the correct manner?
To the borrower, they have paid 10 out of a 20-year loan, he should only owe balance 50% and not 60.3%. Is this manner of allocation not just another unjust way for the bank to generate higher profits, after all the bank did receive the payments on time and in full every month. It is the dream of every borrower to be debt-free as soon as possible and it is not fair to the borrower to be penalised in such a manner when he wants to settle his loan early.
That said, borrowers have no choice but to accept the calculation of the bank as correct and final. If the borrower were to reject and not pay the required sum, the loan will not be considered as repaid in full. The borrower could even be blacklisted and even have his property auctioned off by the bank to recover the remaining sum outstanding if the borrower refuses to pay up.
It would be more transparent and equitable if the monthly payments made by the borrower are allocated in a “straight line basis” to interest and principal equally over the
tenure of the housing loan. Short of that, borrowers are at the mercy of banks.
Some banks operate like a “cartel” and standardise their fees to be charged to customers. One wonder whether such unfair practices are condoned by the regulators like Bank Negara.
It is also interesting to note that banks are exempted by the Malaysia Competition Commission allowing banks to agree and collude on unfair fees, penalties and practices to be charged to borrowers.
Unnecessary expenses
Loan agreement “printing charges” – sold between RM150 and RM350. The banks’ solicitors need to purchase a standard loan agreement from the bank (via soft copy) and adds the borrowers’ details in order to complete the loan agreement. The banks charge the lawyer and the lawyer charges the borrowers.
Standard loan agreements are now downloaded from the bank’s website or from soft copy. The bank no longer need to print them and should not charge for such documents. Alas, this has been continuing till to date.
Lopsided terms and conditions
Lopsided terms and “add-on” products are aplenty, if the borrower wants to identify with them. It would be good practice to remove or qualify the banks’ arbitrary powers.
Conclusion
The National House Buyers Association (HBA) had on Sept 4, 2014 made representation to the Finance Ministry (MOF), Bank Negara. Housing and Local Government Ministry in the presence of Association of Banks Malaysia and Islamic Banks of Malaysia in the form of slides presentation on some observations and unethical practices of some banks.
HBA is looking to work closely with MOF, Bank Negar and all related stakeholders to level the playing field for housing loan borrowers in the long-term interest of the banking industry. We had proposed to set up a working committee to resolve all unfair practices. MOF and Bank Negara have a legitimate interest in the final shape of the banking industry into operating a principled and towards a “customer friendly arena”.

Chang Kim Loong is the honorary secretary-general of the national House Buyers Association: www.hba.org.my, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation manned purely by volunteers.

Potholes patched up at Jalan Wawasan 3/11, 3/13 and 3/14

Potholes were patched up at Jalan Wawasan 3/11, 3/13 and 3/14. Thanks to MPSJ.






Friday, April 3, 2015

Sampah longgok di Jalan Puteri 3 telah dibersihkan

Sampah longgok dibuang oleh orang yang tidak bertanggungjawab di Jalan Puteri 3. Terima kasih kepada MPSJ kerana mengutip sampah longgok dengan cepat.


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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Jalan Serindit Diturap

Jalan sambungan di antara Persiaran Wawasan dan Bandar Puchong Jaya diturap pada Mac 2015.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Ops Khas Terjah & Musnah Aedes (House to House Check & Kempen) bersama Pej Kesihatan Daerah Petaling, MPSJ & YDP, JKP Zon 16, Wawasan 2B RA dan Penduduk

Satu Ops Khas Terjah & Musnah Aedes (House to House Check & Kempen) bersama Pej Kesihatan Daerah Petaling, MPSJ & YDP, JKP Zon 16, Wawasan 2B RA dan penduduk telah diadakan di Taman Wawasan 2 pada 28/2/2015@8.00 pagi.









Wednesday, March 4, 2015

HGS akin to guaranteeing developers’ profit

Saturday, 28 February 2015
The HGS will probably result in a big increase in cases of abandoned housing projects.
The HGS will probably result in a big increase in cases of abandoned housing projects.
 
THE first question the Government needs to face is why does abandonment of housing projects take place? The root cause is the lack of and lax in enfocement of existing laws.
The National House Buyers Association (HBA) is deeply concerned that the Government proposes to set up a Housing Guarantee Corporation (HGS) purportedly to protect buyers and housing developers in the event of abandonment of housing projects by developers. What is more worrying is that the loss caused by abandonment is to be incurred by the Government. The Government will hold 70% equity in the HGS while the balance is held by private funds i.e. Rehda and government-linked agencies such as the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Tabung Haji.
Lax and lack of enforcement
The public who rely on legislations are often let down by the enforcers. Any law is only good on paper and will continue to remain in our archives unless the existing laws or whatever revamped “for the protection of house buyers” are used to their full capacity. The problem with enforcement is not because of the lack of laws but because of the lack of or lax in enforcement. Enforcement programmes must be organised and must be implemented.
We have Section 10 of the Housing Development (Control & Licensing) Act 1966, where it is stipulated that the minister may direct the controller or an inspector to make investigation (under condition of secrecy investigate the commission of any offence under this Act or investigate into the affairs of or into the accounting or other records of any housing developer) if he “has reason to believe” that the housing developer in question is carrying on his business “in a manner detrimental to his purchaser’ or “has assets insufficient to meet his liability”.
This section is further enhanced and amplified with the inclusion of Sect 11 (Powers of the Minister to give directions for the purpose of safeguarding the interests of purchasers) and Sect 10A (Power of entry, search and seizure) and all safeguards and safety nets under the legislation. The minister and his ministry have wide-ranging powers to intervene and salvage a “sick project” and to offer “treatment to provide cure”.
However, just look at the number of abandoned projects which emerge as a dire financial picture for naïve and innocent buyers. Individuals and the community are being harmed by the lax in enforcement and monitoring mechanism.
Misguided Concept
The Housing Ministry having attributed to developers’ abandoning of housing projects, now takes it upon itself to rehabilitate the abandoned housing projects, all at the taxpayers’ expense. The Housing Ministry’s Housing Guarantee Scheme (HGS) simply means that the matter is taken to another level in making the Government go further in ‘teaming-up’ with developers.
This is clearly a case where the Government has been ill advised or, to put it plainly, misled by business groups with vested interests on how to tackle the problems of abandoned housing projects which they caused themselves without any expense to themselves. The saying that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions” certainly holds true for the proposed Housing Guarantee Corporation (HGC). It will not solve the problem of abandoned housing projects but will increase them exponentially. HGS will also not solve issues that relate to shoddy workmanship, sub-standard materials, timely delivery and a host of other problems which one has to encounter with errant and wayward developers.
The setting up of the HGC will be seen as a “licence” for developers to recklessly launch new housing projects in huge volumes regardless of its viability. The most-talked about case is where a developer launched over 9,000 housing units simultaneously a few years ago as the norm. Going forward, developers know that they can abandon the projects should things turn bad for whatever reason and the HGC will take over the project and “mop up” the consequences of abandonment. It will be a clear example of “Profits Privatised – Losses Nationalised”.
Gambling house buyers’ monies
Housing Developers will be encouraged to gamble with house buyers’ monies through the progress billings under the current sell-then-build system only to abandon the project at the earliest sign of trouble. This will result in a big increase in cases of abandoned housing projects throughout the country and will pose a huge strain on the HGC and, ultimately, the Government and taxpayers while the housing developers laugh all the way to the bank.
This ill-conceived HGC is not the solution to minimise abandoned housing projects. The only way to minimise abandoned housing projects is when developers have to use their own money and not house buyers’ monies (under the sell-then-build system) in order to complete a housing project. When people use their own money, they will be more careful.
This ill-conceived HGC will face all the same problems to revive abandoned housing projects, that is to deal with so many different parties, namely house buyers, end-financiers, bridging financiers, insurers and all of which have different objectives and interest.
Built-Then-Sell (BTS 10:90) concept
Under the BTS 10:90 concept mooted by HBA, the bridging financier can immediately take over an abandoned housing project without having to deal with so many parties and the task of reviving the project will be much easier.
Under the BTS 10:90 concept, the developers will walk away empty-handed should the project be abandoned as the developers will only have access to house buyers’ funds when the project is successfully completed. Under the BTS 10:90 concept, should the project be declared abandoned and the developers had taken a bridging loan to fund construction cost, then the developers’ financiers can take over the project, and it will not involve any public funds.
The BTS 10:90 model as proposed by HBA is the solution to minimise abandoned housing projects as under the BTS 10:90 concept, the developer must use its own monies or borrow from banks to launch and successfully complete the housing projects. Under the BTS 10:90 concept, the developer will suffer the most if the housing project is abandoned. Hence, the developer will do all it can to ensure the project is completed on time.
But first some questions:
> Why burden house buyers with payment of premium of between 0.5% and 1% (of the house price or the loan amount) when the benefits of lower risks accrue to banks and developers who bear no upfront cost. Is this not another case of hitting innocent purchasers to spare developers?
> Invariably, a tax payer unable to afford to buy a house is actually funding a house buyer to own a house? Does this make sense to you?
> Who will ensure the interest rates charged for home loans by financial institutions will be reduced for this scheme?
> House prices have shot through the roof. Why the additional cost to buyers whose affordability is already severely constrained?
> Why should the Government fund the scheme but house buyers still have to bear extra cost?
> What are the pre-conditions that must be fulfilled before HGS is activated? Will there be a continuing set-back for victims of abandoned housing projects?
> Is there a need for additional public funds with layers of bureaucracy and headache just to buy a livable house?
> Isn’t the proposed HGS seen for what it really is – an exit door for errant developers? The errant developer will wind up the company and its directors will go scot free by hiding behind the corporate veil, something which happens too rampantly. Then, the HSC is left to deal with another abandoned project. Isn’t this another form concocted as false protection for house buyers?
> Is the Housing Ministry mindful of the news headline “Korea Housing Guarantee Receives Massive Bailout” in 2001? It was reported in the Chosun media on May 31, 2001 that the government and creditor organisations decided to inject a total of 1.84 trillion won into the Korea Housing Guarantee Corp, which has tottered on the brink of insolvency, to put the state-invested housing guarantee firm back on track.
The South Korean model which has been touted by developers as the way to go has to be studied thoroughly. Maybe there are now robust checks and balances in South Korea for the protection of house buyers from unscrupulous developers.
The minister and his ministry should engage all stakeholders before making a decision. What is good for South Korea may not be good for our country.
Chang Kim Loong is the honorary secretary-general of the National House Buyers Association (HBA), a non-profit, non-governmental organisation manned by volunteers

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2 units of Aerator installed at Wawasan Lake

2 units of aerators were installed at Wawasan Lake the week before CNY 2015.
With a payment of RM11,500.00 by our JKP Zon 16, underground cable was installed to connect with the aerators fitted in the "Tasek" at Taman Wawasan.  Thanks to the environmental-caring act by SP Setia for the supply of aerator sets to us for a cleaner and healthier "Tasek"  !



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Metal grating replacement for storm drain in Wawasan 1

Metal grating for storm drain replaced with a new one in Wawasan 1. Thank you to JKP 16 and MPSJ.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Basketball spotlight changed from yellow to white light

Basketball spotlight at Wawasan 1 changed from yellow  to white light as requested by players. Thank you to MPSJ.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Fallen trees cleared at Bandar Puteri 10 Banyan

MPSJ cleared some fallen trees at Puteri 10 Bayan on 25th Feb 2015. Appreciated the prompt response of MPSJ.

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