The major reason for the current financial and economic crisis in America is said to be a rash of Bank failures. And Bad Home Loans are said to be the major reason for the Bank failures in the United States.
Quite simply, American Banks had been over financing home buyers. Suppose a potential home buyer approached his Banker for a home loan, and his credit rating and financial standing would entitle him to a home loan of, say, USD 100,000.00, his Banker would gleefully advance him say USD150,000.00! Naturally this borrower would not be in a position to repay the stipulated installments because of his lower repayment capacity. This would eventually lead to a default on part of the borrower, rendering his loan account a non performing asset.
In the light of the Banking crisis in the United States and also in Europe, it would be worthwhile and also interesting to have a look at the home loan financing scenario under the Islamic system of Banking.
Typically, under the Islamic Banking system, home loan financing is based on the principle of Profit Mark Up on the cost of the property, by mutual consent of the Bank and the Borrower. This type of financing is usually done under the contract of Murabaha.
It goes like this. Suppose you are interested in buying your dream home (who's not!). You approach the Islamic Bank with your requirements with regard to the financing. The Bank in turn would assess your requirements as well as evaluate your eligibility for the financing based on your income and repayment capacity. After taking an overall view of your financial standing and credit rating, the Bank would fix a eligible amount of home loan for you. Let us say the Bank fixes a home loan limit of USD100, 000.00 for you.
This amount would include their mark up on the cost of the property. This mark up is fixed by mutual consent. Suppose the mark up is say USD 10,000.00. That means the net amount of your home loan is USD90, 000.00. The next step for you, the borrower, is to identify your dream home in the range of USD90, 000.00. After that you give details of the property thus identified to the Bank, who in turn will negotiate with the owner of the property and make a purchase of the same specifically to sell it to you.
The next step would be to complete the formalities in regard to documentation etc., after which you get the possession of the home, though you are still not the owner of the same. The ownership will vest in you once you repay the stipulated number of installments within the repayment period fixed. Then your dream home becomes really yours!
The main characteristics of the above type of home loan under Islamic Banking are: a proper evaluation and assessment is made of the repaying capacity of the borrower and fixation of the appropriate loan amount. Another notable feature, which is in fact the bedrock of Islamic Banking, is the absence of Interest on the loan amount. Instead the Bank adds up a profit margin to the cost of the asset and divides the total amount into equal installments payable usually monthly.
The above example is a simple type of home loan under the Islamic Banking System. Within this system, variations are possible to suit the specific needs of the borrower.