The Straits Times
Monday, Oct 15, 2012
Some local and foreign banks are having their home loan lending practices reviewed as part of added scrutiny in the light of the booming property market, sources say.
The audits are being conducted by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and will apply at both local and foreign banks.
Experts say the move is likely a way of sending a signal to banks that the Government is keeping a close eye on them, and they should remain prudent in their lending practices.
Mr Roger Tan, chief executive of Sias Research, said the central bank could be looking for signs of lax lending without due consideration of the borrower's credit worthiness.
"They will want to make sure that rules are being enforced and that proper risk management is tightly in place, especially now that the property market is hot," he said.
The review, which is being rolled out even as the sixth round of cooling measures was imposed last week, is part of the central bank's supervisory work.
A MAS spokesman said yesterday that it does not comment on internal operations.
Analysts say MAS regularly conducts audits of banks based on its assessment of risk, with the risk areas evolving over time.
There is no indication that any bank is being singled out for lax lending practices.
The MAS review of mortgages is most likely part of general prudence measures, given the surging property market that has sent prices and sales volumes to record levels.
An industry player who declined to be named said that while general lending guidelines are clear, MAS could be focusing more on the internal lending policies of banks instead.
A range of criteria such as the loan-to-value ratio, the property's value, the applicant's income and credit worthiness, and the acceptability of the collateral are typically assessed when a loan application is considered.
But banks have varying standards on some of these factors, with some possibly more stringent than others. They might differ on defining a borrower's income and choose to exclude - or include - bonuses and commission, for example.
A borrower's debt servicing ratio - his total monthly debt payments divided by net income - could also be of interest to MAS, experts say.
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