Mumbai: The liquidity crisis has crimped credit growth for housing finance companies (HFCs) and is unlikely to improve much in FY20, even as the weak external environment will put a pressure on asset quality, warns a report.
HFCs are expected to report a 13-15% credit growth in FY19, which will inch up to 14-16% in next fiscal year, ratings agency Icra has said in a weekend report.
Aggravating the difficulties will be a likely pressure on the asset quality front due to the weak operating environment, Icra said. "Discussions with some HFCs reveals that their stock of repossessed assets has also increased, due to the lower saleability of those assets leading to an elongated recovery time," the report read.
Gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of the home loan segment will increase to up to 1.3% in the medium term from the present 1% levels, the report stated. If we include project loans, their overall NPAs will shoot up to 1.8% in the medium term from the present 1.4%, it said.
The ongoing troubles will result in a narrowing of margins and, accordingly, a moderation of profit levels to 14% levels in FY19 from 18% in the year-ago period, Icra said, adding it expects bottomline to be at the same levels in FY20 as well.
It can be noted that the housing finance sector has been considered as one of the safest bets for financiers in the last few years, as the segment has been largely resilient.
According to the ratings agency, key factors to monitor from credit quality perspective are home loans extended to borrowers where the underlying projects have been significantly delayed and under-construction properties sold by builders under subvention schemes or buyback/assured return schemes, its vice-president Supreeta Nijjar said.
Following the September 2018 liquidity crisis triggered by IL&FS, with a slowdown in the HFCs' credit growth, banks have been quick to seize the opportunity, Icra said.
The home loans portfolio for HFCs and other NBFCs came down to 13% from 18% in the year-ago period, while the overall housing credit outstanding growth also narrowed down to 16% from 18%, it said.
HFCs are resorting to curbing their disbursements and also portfolio sell-downs to meet their funding requirements following the liquidity squeeze, it said.
It can be noted that the events following IL&FS defaults in August have resulted in a liquidity crisis for the NBFC segment.
While the squeeze has subsided, players complain about high cost of funds.
Experts attribute the troubles at the NBFCs to asset liability mismatch, where short term borrowings are used to fund long term assets.
Icra said most HFCs have started strengthening their liquidity buffers to meet any sudden market disruptions and near-term debt obligations.
It said the proposed National Housing Bank amendments in capital adequacy, deposit mobilisation and leverage norms are positives for HFCs.