Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 9th 2013 Contents MAY 2013 • WEEK TWO www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COVER STORY | BG5
Lashley explained how TTMF settled at
six per cent, saying the price is currently
"relevant to the market."
"TTMF is not a part of the Central
Bank's definition of pricing to commercial
banks through the Mortgage Market Ref-
erence Rate (MMRR). We are not a part
of that group because our funding source
is different to commercial banks. We fund
through mortgage-backed securities and
bond issues. So our pricing is based on
the price we can get for new funds on the
open capital market.
"So it is that pricing, plus a margin, that
would allow us for some measure of effi-
ciency for our operations and any delin-
quency that may occur, that brings us to
the six per cent. Interest rates are at an
all time low. But over time it will go up
and that is what we are catering to. That
time when it starts to move, yours will
not," she said.
The market response to the six per cent
has been "good."
"So far we have had good reaction and
positive enquiries. Persons who did not
think they could afford a house at this
time have been coming to us to attempt
to at least identify where they stand. For
this promotion, we are targeting persons
at all levels, young professionals who are
just starting off and looking for a first
home. Those persons who already have a
home, but are looking at expanding prop-
erty or pay for children's education or
medical attention and, at the same time,
people working towards their retirement."
Changing homeowners' profile
Despite changing trends in the way peo-
ple buy homes and even why they purchase
homes, the TTMF - which has 14,000
accounts - has continued to remain rel-
evant in the home mortage market, said
"For a very long time, we have been
known as first time home owner lenders.
We are not that; we are much more than
that. We are mortgage financiers. As long
as you have a residential property and
security, we can help. And we can probably
help in a more expansive way than the
traditional banker can. We have 25 per
cent of the market
"But, of course, we have the majority
lower-income group. If we were to judge
market share by the lower-income group,
we would probably have about one-third
of that group. Expanding into the mid-
dle- and upper-income group is new to
us as we have been doing that for about
ten years," Lashley said.
The way citizens of T&T have defined
wealth is different from the way North
Americans and Europeans do, she said.
"Our culture in T&T has always been
one of home ownership. We encourage
home ownership. People do not rent their
hold lives if they have other options.
"One of the reasons we are so focused
on home ownership is because home own-
ership is the foundation of your wealth.
You did not start building savings until
you had your own home. In the North
America and Europe, wealth is defined in
a much broader way. It means equities, it
means bonds, overseas holdings. T&T is
not at that stage as yet."
Lashley described young professionals'
view of home ownership.
"Our young professionals are much more
mobile than their parents were. They are
more mobile globally. They do not focus
on working in T&T only. Many feel if they
do not work outside T&T, they do not
have the experience. Because they are more
mobile, a home in T&T is only a part of
their investment portfolio. It is more real
estate investment than a home and that
distinction is very important going forward.
And when they get past 50, they determine
where home is," she said.
She described Diamond Vale and any
one of the recent Housing Development
Corporation's (HDC) projects as examples
of TTMF's best projects.
"In both cases, the turn out was suc-
cessful in that it satisfied the demand for
low, low- to middle-income housing," she
said. "The credit experience was satisfac-
tory and the community thrived and
became active in maintaining their envi-
Lashley outlined TTMF's niche mar-
"Our most significant competitors are
the commercial banks. The major area
we target that they are not inclined to,
and these are the HDC, Tobago House
of Assembly (THA) and Caroni lands.
That is our special market. Not that we
do not compete against them on every
level, but that is our niche market."
She said this can be divided into two
"It is how you define the mortgage
market, if you look at the mortgage mar-
ket as purely purchasing new housing,
it is very full. But if you look at the market
as financial opportunities provided by
residential properties, then that aspect
of the market is quite buoyant. Persons
who made purchases ten-plus year ago,
and they want to improve on their prop-
erties, they are using their existing prop-
erty to expand their wealth."
The private sector has not taken a
strong role in home construction, said
the TTMF CEO.
"In respect of the lower- and middle-
income group, the HDC has been the
most significant developer in Trinidad
and the THA the most significant in
Tobago. The Minister of Housing has
bemoaned the activity of the private sec-
tor in construction. The private sector
has not yet taken a significant interest
in the home construction market, for
whatever reason. There were incentives
in last year's budget, but for us as it per-
tains to our liaising with HDC and the
THA, they have an inventory of homes
they are seeking to allocate that will fall
into the mortgage market."
Lashley said middle-income people
tend to hold on to their homes.
"The persons who own homes in mid-
dle-income areas - Trincity, Diamond
Vale, the older homes in St James - they
tend to hold on to their homes and do
not turn over as others do. That market
is illiquid. That is why in the mid-market
people are turning towards townhouses
She said the situation is more "des-
perate" for lower-income people.
"The majority of the demand are the
lower-income and lower- middle-income
groups. If only they are the more des-
perate ones and their affordability is lower.
They cannot be accommodated. In mid-
dle-income homes, you can build an
apartment next to mom's house or build
an extension on your parents' house.
Lower income do not have that option,
so the demand is greatest and the sit-
uation more desperate for them."
Ingrid Lashley, chief executive officer, T&T Mortgage Finance.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Continued from Page 4
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