All NHT first-time applicants can now get $5.5-million loan

ALL first-time applicants for mortgages from the National Housing Trust (NHT) should now be able to access the full loan ceiling of $5.5 million, regardless of the age of the homes they are purchasing.

Effective yesterday, the policy changes to the NHT’s individual loan limit will enable eligible contributors to access the full amount to purchase any home on the open market, whereas previously only contributors who were building or buying new developments, or whose prospective homes were completed and fit for occupancy as at September 1, 2015, could borrow up to the full amount.

The NHT last increased its individual loan limit, for some new applicants, from $4.5 million to $5.5 million. It reduced the interest rate on loans on November 1, 2015.

In addition, the loan limit for the home improvement, or ‘Fifteen Plus’ category has been moved from $1.5 to $2.5 million. The Fifteen Plus loan is for homeowners who last borrowed from the NHT 15 years or more ago, and wish to repair, improve, or expand an existing mortgaged property. This loan can also be accessed to secure a second home, if the contributor no longer owns a house.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the policy changes on Friday at the ground-breaking for the development of 595 housing solutions (housing units and serviced lots) at Colbeck Castle, phase one and two, in Old Harbour, St Catherine.

“We are widening the reach of the NHT, increasing the allocation to ensure that all Jamaicans have a housing solution,” he said.

The NHT is expected to write over 8,000 new loans during this fiscal year at a value of $17.8 billion, while rolling out its new housing microfinance initiative which started on April 1. A significant portion of the solutions to be delivered by the NHT will be beneficial to persons earning minimum wage to $12,000 weekly, Prime Minister Holness had said in his budget presentation in March.

Among the other policies being implemented, as of this month, is access to funding for eligible contributors of seven years or more, to allow them to purchase, at minimum, a studio unit.

Additionally, Holness announced that a special incentive would also be made to eligible contributors who wish to purchase scheme units, with the NHT offering full financing for all the housing solutions it produces. The NHT’s house lot loans will also be increased to $2.5 million from $2 million.

For the financial year, the trust plans to spend $28.6 billion to start work on on 5,737 housing solutions, and complete 1,682 in St Andrew, St Catherine, Manchester, Clarendon, St Elizabeth, Hanover, Westmoreland, and St James.