EghtesadOnline: As prices of all goods and services, including apartments, are rising in Iran due to an ongoing currency crisis, the government is pondering on ways to facilitate conditions of homeownership to at least partially offset the declining public purchasing power in the housing market.
According to Hamed Mazaherian, deputy for housing and construction at the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, rules for obtaining facilities from the Housing Savings Account, the main government initiative aimed at helping first-time homebuyers, could be changed.
"The proposal to eliminate the limitation on the buildings' age for homeownership has been put forward, which has pros and cons," he told ILNA.
"At present, the 800-million-rial ($6,498) loans are only allocated to buildings that are less than 15 years old, but the central bank is reviewing the proposal to eliminate this ceiling."
According to Mazaherian, the administration is reviewing another proposal whereby the monetary regulator increases the maturity period for the repayment of loans, Financial Tribune reported.
"Increasing the ceiling of loans in also under consideration," he said.
HSA is the flagship homeownership initiative of Bank Maskan, the state-run agent bank of the housing sector, that requires first-time homebuyers and those living in distressed urban areas to make down payments and wait for a year to become eligible for cheap loans.
Last week, Bank Maskan CEO Abolqasem Rahimi Anaraki announced that the lender is closely watching the hike in home prices and considering a rise in loan ceiling for better supporting real demand represented by middle or lower class Iranians.
On the other hand, interest rates for HSA loans initially stood at 14% three years ago when HSA was initiated, but have now been reduced to 8%.
Rahimi said another interest rate cut is under consideration.
"Even as interest rates [for HSA] have been reduced in the past few years, interest rates for loans on housing bonds have not been reduced and their interest rates reach 13% at present. This causes home loan installments to be high and pressures people receiving them," he said.
The Bank Maskan CEO said the bank will certainly move to reduce home loan interest rates "whenever deposit accounts are in a justifiable condition and we can lower our finished costs".
Latest HSA Figures
Bank Maskan on Sunday presented the latest figures pertaining to the performance of savings account, including latest numbers of opened deposits, number of live deposits, interest to be paid on live deposits and the number and value of allocated loans.
According to a report published on HIBNA, the official news portal of the bank, from the time the account was established three years ago until Aug. 29, a total of 496,314 accounts were opened by applicants.
From the total number of accounts, live accounts–belonging to people who are awaiting loans or have managed to obtain loans–totaled 358,940.
What's more, a total of 67,743 loans were doled out to individuals or couples in the aforesaid period valued at more than 50 trillion rials ($406.12 million).
According to Bank Maskan, total HSA deposits amounted to more than 70 trillion rials ($568.57 million) in that period. First-time homebuyer couples living in distressed or other urban areas received 22,820 loans. They have to pay about 23.5 trillion rials ($190.87 million) in interest before the maturity periods of their contracts are due.
"Based on the number of loans and the trajectory of the number of HSA applicants, estimates show that the volume of deposits and the value of allocated loans to first-time homebuyers is increasing on a weekly basis as more depositors will become eligible to receive loans as time passes," Bank Maskan wrote at the end of the report.