Home owners who missed window to refinance at risk of becoming ‘mortgage prisoners’

Image credit: Pixabay

Some home owners who continually missed the opportunity to refinance may be held as mortgage prisoners as they will find it hard to switch to another loan with a lower interest rate. 

by: Phoenix Lee/

With the interest rates rising from the beginning of this year, financial institutions have been advertising low interest rates for refinancing to attract new customers. But it may be more difficult for such home owners to get onboard a new mortgage loan and remain ‘mortgage prisoners’ because of the tougher lending restrictions imposed by Government regulators.

One such regulation which may keep home owners ‘mortgage prisoners’ is the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR).

TDSR is to safeguard borrowers from overleveraging. This applies to property loans granted by all financial institutions. Currently, TDSR has a 60% threshold, and what does this translates to is that the percentage of your income that goes into servicing your loan cannot be more than 60%. All refinancing will have to pass the TDSR rule.

The TDSR was put in place to ensure that financial institutions exercise prudence in giving out loans, but this new rule actually traps a group of property owners, as they now would not be able to refinance their home loans to cheaper rates.

Such home owners are trapped as ‘mortgage prisoners’ by the banks who first offered them these highly leveraged lending.


So the regulation which was introduced to rein in aggressive lending from banks actually benefited the banks who initially took the risks to lend more aggressively. This is because they now have a group of home owners who cannot refinance and are trapped in higher rates through the higher spread charged by the bank. It is ironic that the regulation which was supposed to impose financial prudence on the aggressive financial institutions, ended up hurting some home owners who fell prey to loose lending by the some banks.

mortgage prisoners
Image credit: Pixabay

‘Mortgage prisoners’ have also got to worry that the prices of some property-types have remain fairly stagnant. Resale prices of HDB flats for example, have been on the downward trend since the third quarter of last year when prices fell 0.7 per cent.

The decline continued into the last quarter of 2017 when it dipped a further 0.2 per cent, and went down 0.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year. In the second quarter of 2018, it inched up by 0.1 per cent before dipping again in the third quarter.

If HDB flat prices do not pick up pace soon, such home owners’ homes could be worth less and the equity would be lower. The danger is if house prices did fall their loans may be higher than what their homes are worth, so they could still owe money if they are forced to sell.

This is where mortgage brokers come in. Such professionals are able to help home owners to get their expenses down before they make loan applications. The services of such professionals will be especially useful considering that the next wave of interest rates are due to hit soon, keeping more home owners as ‘mortgage prisoners’.

Banks, however, are usually slow off the mark in raising the interest rates in response to global events like the US Federal Reserve rate hikes. This lag time is where a mortgage consultant can best help a distressed buyer to finance a new purchase or to refinance their current property.

Mr Paul Ho, chief mortgage consultant said, “there may be a short window of opportunity for home-owners to refinance their home loans before the Federal Reserve interest rates set to increase, take effect.”


He added, “the mortgage consultants at iCompareLoan can get the best rates for home owners who want to refinance their home loans by comparing across 16 banks and financial institutions – and best of all, our services are free.” Not shopping around for the best home loan, could be the biggest mistake home owners could make, which would keep them trapped as ‘mortgage prisoners’.

Do you check prices with several airlines before buying a plane ticket? Do you compare grocery store coupons to see which supermarket has the best offer? If you do all that and do very little to devote a little time to finding the best possible refinancing deal for your home, then you are potentially throwing tens of thousands of dollars in fees and interest over the life of the loan.

How to Secure a Home Loan Quickly

Do you want to refinance but are unsure if you can take one? Don’t worry because iCompareLoan mortgage brokers can set you up on a path that can get you a home loan in a quick and seamless manner.

Alternatively you can read more about the Best Home Loans in Singapore before deciding.  Our brokers have close links with the best lenders in town and can help you compare Singapore home loans and settle for a package that best suits your home purchase needs.

Whether you are looking for a new home loan or to refinance, our mortgage brokers can help you get everything right from calculating mortgage repayment, comparing interest rates all through to securing the loan. And the good thing is that all their services are free of charge. So it’s all worth it to secure a loan through them.

For advice on a new home loan  or Personal Finance advice.

If you want to speak to our Panel of Property agents.

If you need refinancing advice, we are here

Written by Ravi Chandran

Coronation Shopping Plaza

Prized commercial property at Coronation Shopping Plaza up for sale at $35m

flex space operators

Colliers International partners proptech company to respond faster to demand for flexible workspaces