May 2, 2017 / 9:40 AM / 3 years ago

China banks hike lending rates for Beijing home buyers: sources

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Beijing branches of at least six major Chinese banks have raised interest rates on housing loans for first- and second-home buyers, effective from May 1, six sources with direct knowledge of the hikes told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past residential buildings in Beijing, July 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Beijing announced unprecedentedly tough restrictions in March to fight soaring prices in the capital’s red-hot residential property market and rein in rising financial risks.

The six banks have removed discounts on mortgage rates for first-time home buyers, effectively raising borrowing costs, the sources said on Tuesday.

They have also increased their floating mortgage interest rate for second-home buyers by 10 percentage points to 20 percent over the central bank’s long-term benchmark rate, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The central bank’s benchmark lending rate for loans longer than 5 years, currently at 4.9 percent, is typically used to set floating-rate mortgages.

The moves are significant as credit conditions are the most crucial factor influencing short-term price trends, analysts say.

The removal of discounts for first-home buyers echoes the credit crunch during property tightening cycles in 2011 and 2014, said Zhang Dawei, Beijing-based chief analyst at property agency Centaline.

“It could severely impact market expectations,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Securities Times first reported that Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) (601398.SS)(1398.HK), China Construction Bank Corp (CCB) (601939.SS)(0939.HK), Agricultural Bank of China (AgBank) (601288.SS)(1288.HK), Bank of China (BoC) (601988.SS)(3988.HK) and Bank of Communications Co (BoCom) (601328.SS)(3328.HK) had hiked the rates.

China CITIC Bank (601998.SS), Bank of Beijing (601169.SS) and China Merchants Bank (600036.SS) have also taken similar steps, according to the state-run newspaper.

The banks didn’t immediately confirm the changes. China’s central bank didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The measures show “unprecedented resolve” in cooling the market, even though the additional cost burden is likely to be only minimal considering already hefty down payment ratios of as high as 80 percent for second homes, said Guo Yi, market director at Yahao, a real estate consulting agency in Beijing.

Reporting by Yawen Chen, Shu Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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