THE PESO'S sharp appreciation against the dollar has neither dampened overseas Filipinos' interest in buying real estate nor resulted in delinquency in their housing loans so far, BPI Family Bank said.
Alfonso Salcedo, president of BPI Family Bank--the thrift bank subsidiary of the Ayalas' Bank of the Philippine Islands--said housing loans from overseas Filipinos were still growing and these borrowers had been up to date in their loan payment.
The BPI group is currently the country's biggest channel for foreign exchange remittances. Salcedo said the bank checked late last year whether there were requests for loan repackaging from this sector and found out there was none.
"But of course we're very cautious, we're looking at how that sector is doing," he said. The peso gained 18.8 percent against the dollar last year to become Asia's best performing currency. But the steep appreciation has also diluted the peso equivalent of the money sent home by overseas Filipinos, raising concerns over a possible decline in consumer spending and an increase in loan delinquency among borrowers from this sector.
Salcedo said the strong peso had not affected housing loan take-up apparently because of these borrowers' determination to own their own homes. "And I really laud our developers because they have come up with projects designed for OFWs, " he said.
He estimated that OFWs accounted for about a third of BPI Family's new housing loans. Loan size, he said, ranged from P1.2 million to P1.7 million, used mainly to fund the acquisition of housing units worth about P2 million.
These borrowers' commitment to pay their housing loans, he said, was firm because they live in the houses they bought and they knew they could lose them if they failed to pay their loans. He also noted the growing segment of well-heeled Filipino migrants who were buying local condominium units for their own use when they visit the country.
The BPI group is projecting a double-digit growth in local lending in the next three years. For this year, the group expects its loan portfolio to expand by 12 percent, up from 11 percent last year. For 2007, BPI reported a 17-percent expansion in consumer loans and remained the biggest player in consumer lending. Market shares for housing and auto loans were maintained at 24 percent and 22 percent, respectively.
Recently, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas--the Philippine central bank--liberalized real estate lending regulations for the first time since the 1997 Asian crisis to pump in more money into two of the government's priority sectors--infrastructure and housing. The BSP agreed to adopt a single industry limit of 20 percent for real estate loans as a share of total loans.
The cap was slapped on banks' exposure in the property sector before the Asian currency crisis erupted. But a leeway to raise the exposure up to 30 percent was incorporated to accommodate borrowings of up to P3.5 million for the purchase or improvement of residential un
By Doris Dumlao Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 02/10/2008
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