The National Housing Trust’s (NHT) partnership with private financial institutions is designed to make it easier for contributors to gain access to their loans benefits.
The agency’s External Financing Mortgage Programme (EMFP), which came into full effect on August 1, provides an increased list of mortgage institutions through which qualified contributors can now access their full NHT loan benefits.
This programme is a replacement of the Joint Financing Mortgage Program (JFMP), which gave contributors access to their financing at the same low interest rate as available from the NHT.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the move is aimed at increasing the rate of homeownership across all income levels.
Under the EFMP, contributors can now access their full NHT benefits in addition to obtaining other financing, and have that mortgage processed though one of the institutions on the now expanded list. The option of using one these institutions is also available for contributors who are only using their NHT benefits in order to finance their mortgage.
This new programme forms part of a series of changes and developments that are aimed at optimising the NHT’s functions.
So far, 10 institutions have joined the new EFMP, namely: COK Sodality Credit Union, National Commercial Bank (NCB), The Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica Limited, JMMB Bank Jamaica (Limited), JN Bank Limited, The Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS), First Global Bank Limited, First Caribbean International Bank (Jamaica) Limited (CIBC), Sagicor Bank Jamaica Limited and Sagicor Life.
Dwight Ebanks, senior general manager for finance at the NHT, says the new programme will create greater ease of access and transaction of business, as it will allow for customers to access their NHT benefits from an institution with which they are already familiar.
“You will go to your preferred mortgage partner and it’s a one-stop shop to process your loan, whether you want only your NHT benefit, or you want your NHT benefit along with additional funds from the financial partner,” he notes.
“The financial partner will process you and provide you with your financing, whether to buy or to build. The NHT loan will be on the same terms you would get at the NHT, so there are no negative implications for the customer; you still get your preferred NHT rate. You are still an NHT customer, so if there are any issues you still have access to the NHT,” Ebanks outlines.
He also points out that contributors who earn between minimum wage and $30,000 weekly, as well as customers who wish to access special subsidies likes home grants and and NHT scheme benefits, can still access those services at the NHT under this new programme.
“Once you need additional financing above your NHT entitlement, then you must go to one of our financial partners. But, if you earn J$30,000 or less [which are] those who qualify for the NHT loans at zero per cent, then you can still come and get your loan at the NHT,” Ebanks explained.
This new programme allows for persons to access their full NHT benefits, while also getting financing from the financial institution; which was not previously available under the JFMP.
“What normally happens at the start of each year, your contributions that are due for refund are applied against our NHT mortgage. If you access your benefit through the financial partner, you now have access to get those refunds each year into your hands and that is a significant benefit again to a lot of our contributors,” Ebanks added.