The Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) has unveiled a new mortgage product to encourage customers to save as they plan to build or buy their dream homes. The facility was officially launched during the Prosperity Expo at the Gikondo show grounds, on Friday last week.
Through the facility, dubbed "Gira Icumbi" account, a client will be able to borrow money to buy or build a house after accumulating savings worth at least 10 percent of the total cost of the planned project.
The advantage is that the interest rate on the loan is heavily discounted at 0.5 percent, one percent and 1.5 per cent in a year, two years and three or more years respectively. This is arguably the lowest priced mortgage loan in Rwanda.
In addition to lower borrowing rates, the "Gira Icumbi" account also attracts an interest rate of eight percent per annum on the savings. However, this will be subject to adjustment according to the REPO rate at the time. Earned interests will be payable annually.
BRD Director of Operations, Evode Nshimimana, said that the product is designed to help monthly salary earners who desire to buy or build a house but cannot afford the minimum requirement down payment to secure a mortgage.
"If you are a salary earner, it may not be easy to raise 10 per cent of your project. That is why we encourage people to start saving and then qualify to borrow," he said. He added that the facility is particularly good as savings also earn interest.
BRD officials say that " Gira Icumbi " has the potential to spur growth in the construction sector and reduce the country's housing deficit as it attracts investors into the real estate business.
"Investors fear building many houses because they are not sure of selling them. But with this kind of product, we can work together. We at the bank will be able to tell them the exact number of people who would be eligible for a mortgage each year so (that) they can build houses in advance knowing that potential buyers are there," Nshimimana said.
Esther Mutamba said that it was obvious that the low interest rates would help Rwandans to acquire houses.
Since the acquisition of Rwanda Housing Bank, BRD has broadened the range of products available to clients with the introduction of retail banking services. Clients who meet the requirements to open accounts with the bank can now be facilitated to open accounts such as Savings Accounts and Housing Savings Accounts. At the time of the takeover, Rwanda Housing Bank's total assets were valued at about US$23.7 million (Rwf14 billion)
Commonly referred to by its French name Banque Rwandaise de Développement (BRD), the bank began operations in 1967, as a long-term financial services provider, with the financing geared towards national development projects. As of April 2011, the total asset valuation of the bank was approximately $122 million (Rwf72 billion), with shareholders equity of approximately $42.3 million (Rwf25 billion).