choosing mortgage loans

Choosing the Right Mortgage Loan Peg

In recent months, some banks have stopped offering home loans based on fixed deposit rate and re-introduced BOARD rates for their home loan packages.

In this article we will take a closer look at the different types of mortgage loan pegs available in the Singapore market and how one is preferred over others at different periods of interest rate cycles.

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What Is A BOARD Rate?

This is probably the oldest form of mortgage pricing widely practised all over the world where the bank pegs the home loan interest rate to a pre-defined lending benchmark called BOARD rate.  Banks normally have different BOARD rates for different purposes like commercial property loans, private property loans, HDB loans, etc.  Different banks also call it by different acronyms from MR (mortgage rate), MRP (mortgage rate plus), SRFR (Singapore Residential Financing Rate) to EFR (enterprise financing rate) for commercial loans.  No matter which name it goes by, the nature of BOARD rate remains – it is determined solely by the bank in accordance with general market interest rate movements.  The actual interest charged to homeowners would usually be BOARD rate less a discount factor, or more recently, it has become BOARD rate plus a margin.

The biggest problem with BOARD rate is that it is difficult to track as it is an internal rate determined by the bank from time to time and this information is not published anywhere publicly.


Why SIBOR Was Used To Price Mortgages?

To understand why this lack of transparency is an issue with BOARD rates, we need to revisit the history of how SIBOR (Singapore Interbank Offer Rate) became widely used as a mortgage loan peg from 2007.

SIBOR 30-year pattern


Back in mid-2000s when US Fed started its last tightening cycle, homeowners in Singapore were paying skyrocketing interest rates as high as 4-5%. These were variable packages on BOARD rates which was the only mortgage loan peg available in the market back then. One can imagine fixed rates would be even higher in those days.  As banks raised their BOARD rates, there was much unhappiness amongst borrowers and complaints which eventually led banks to seek out a more transparent loan peg to be used for mortgage pricing.  SIBOR or interbank lending rates, administered by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), were used to price mortgages for the first time in 2007.  ABS would calculate and publish on its website the SIBOR rates for 1-month, 3-month, and so on based on the bid and offer quotes from 20 participating banks in the interbank market daily at 11.30 a.m.

Lenders could then price their mortgage loan packages based on the published SIBOR rates by adding a spread or margin.  SIBOR would become the most transparent (published daily) and neutral mortgage loan peg as no one bank could unilaterally increase its value.  Homeowners could also compare mortgage loan packages from the various banks based on the lowest spreads quoted.  Monthly repayments would be calculated or “reset” on a rate-setting date every 1-month, 3-month or even 12-month depending on the SIBOR tenure to which the mortgage loan is pegged to. The monthly repayments would stay the same until the next reset date.

Indeed, SIBOR-pegged home loans became popular and the pre-dominant choice amongst homeowners especially in the next decade when interbank interest stayed low for long periods.

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FDR Mortgage Loan Peg – An Innovation In Singapore’s Market

However, when SIBOR started rising in late 2014 after oil price collapse and the end of loose monetary regime in the US, things start to change.  By this time, DBS pioneered a new category of mortgage loan pegs called FHR (Fixed Deposit Home Rate) where it pegs home loan interest to its pre-designated Sing dollar fixed deposit rates of various tenures from 12, 24, 18, 9 to the current 8-month.  This is likely a first-of-its-kind in the world for mortgages.  The market took to it by storm aided by the perception of meagre fixed deposit rates in Singapore, meaning mortgage loan interest pegged to FHR would likely stay low. Before long, other banks also launched their own versions of such mortgages based on fixed deposit rates, which we now refer to collectively in this blog as FDR (fixed deposit rate) home loans, and FDR took over SIBOR as the preferred mortgage loan peg in the last few years.

As interest cycle heads further north with US Fed now on track for 4 hikes this year after it last raised the federal funds rate in September, SIBOR being an interbank rate would always be the first to respond to any drying up of liquidity in the banking system.  On the other hand, as banks need to justify any increases to FDR loan pegs, there is usually a lag time before they play catchup with SIBOR.  So far this year, we have observed this lag to be generally around 3 to 6 months.  This re-affirmed our view that in an interest rate upswing cycle, FDR will be preferred over SIBOR due to this laggard nature – SIBOR would need to move first and quite significantly.

What is more uncertain is the choice of BOARD rate which is essentially like a “black box” where we are unable to track its exact movements over time.  Will banks exploit this lack of transparency to increase BOARD rate more often than necessary, or to increase even more than the run-up in SIBOR?  We can only hope that history does not repeat itself.


Since 2014, has provided thought leadership in the mortgage planning space in Singapore, taking deep dives into the latest developments in the industry, providing useful mortgage tips, and making sense of rate movements.  We seek to build trust with clients over the longer term instead of doing product-peddling for quick one-time deals.  That’s why we always present “whole-of-market” perspective including home loan packages that some banks do not pay us.  Read our clients’ testimonials.


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DBS bank singapore

DBS Raised FHRs Across The Board

Last week DBS announced on its website across-the-board adjustment of its Sing Dollar Fixed Deposit rates from 7-month to 60-month tranches on 24 August, which will also hit all housing loans tied to its popular FHR peg. 

The announcement on DBS’s website (reproduced here) as follows:

DBS FHR rate hikes


This latest move from the market leader comes after rate hikes to selective tranches announced last month by its two other local rivals in the mortgage business OCBC and UOB, which was also reported in this blog.  Homeowners will be receiving letter notifications from the bank soon and the new rates should apply after a one-month notice as required.

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With rate hikes coming fast and furious now almost every other month, since the start of 2018, I am not surprised almost every single FDR home loan peg in the market has been adjusted this year, some by more than one time in the space of a few months.  It is no wonder most clients are jumping on the bandwagon of fixed rate home loans in recent weeks.  Before we go on, here’s a quick summary on the exact impact to affected customers who are on DBS floating rate housing loans:


BankMortgage Peg*Date*Old RateNew RateIncrease By
DBSFHR824 Aug0.200.500.30
DBSFHR924 Aug0.500.800.30
(ave of
12 & 24M)
24 Aug0.80
0.60 (12M)
1.00 (24M)
0.80 (12M)
1.15 (24M)
DBSFHR1824 Aug0.800.950.15

*FHR is the original tranche FHR launched by DBS in 2014 defined as ave between 12M and 24M FD which has increased from 0.60 to 0.80 and from 1.00 to 1.15 respectively.


No one likes a higher monthly repayment, however when tides are rising, all ships eventually go for those on floating rate mortgages.  The speed of increases this year (where the local banks take turns to raise its mortgage pegs) has caught many by surprise, but the magnitude of increase has by and large stayed within an average of 0.30% for most.  And if you look at how SIBOR itself has increased (see purple line below) in past 6 months from 1.10% to 1.63% (as at 6 Aug), the banks are simply playing catch up.

FDR rate hikes 2018


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With the latest economic indicators coming out from US indicating continued strong growth, US Fed is poised to hike in its FOMC next month (we will bring you our summary report and analysis here so watch this space). All the signs seem to point to further liquidity crunch, which has seen all the banks here rolling out numerous deposit promotions over the last few months in a bid to bring in more funds. It is fair to say, barring any unforeseen events, mortgage rates look set to go further north in the near future.  Homeowners who are near their lockin expiry will do well to start looking around for the best fixed rates and take action quickly before it rises above 2%.


And there is no better time to do that now by reaching out to us here at – we can offer you a zero-cost option for refinancing subject to min loan $500,000 (terms apply).  By all means do get a repricing quote from your current bank first, and let us run the numbers and see if it makes sense to switch. There are many mortgage lenders out there hungry for your business.  That is the beauty of free market!

If you act fast, we can still get you 3-year fixed rate at 1.90% or 2-year fixed rate at 1.68% (with some conditions attached).  Speak to our consultants to find out more how it works.

Since 2014, has provided thought leadership in the mortgage planning space in Singapore, taking deep dives into the latest trends in the industry, providing useful mortgage tips, and making sense of rate movements.  We aim to build trust with clients for longer-term partnership and not just do product-pushing for a one-time deals unlike bankers. That’s why we always present “whole-of-market” perspective including packages that banks do not pay us.  See our clients’ testimonials.


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HDB fixed rate home loan for refinancing

BOARD Rate Makes A Comeback

In recent months, one by one, lenders who offered FDR (fixed deposit rate) home loan pegs in the market started to pull the plug on this all important mortgage peg and replaced them with the traditional BOARD rates, even though some give it a new name like MR (mortgage rate).  One bank even go as far as to replace loans on its existing books from FDR to the new BOARD, hence migrating them in batches over time to phase out FDR completely at some point we gather.

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Is this a good development for the mortgage industry in Singapore?  We think not.

As much as we are paid by lenders for distributing mortgage products in Singapore, we do have a duty to report developments in the industry from rate hikes by individual banks to significant strategy changes like replacement of mortgage pegs.  Hence, we need to voice our conerns here independently as a thought leader in the industry and we do have something to say about this recent development which we see as a step backward.

I believe the biggest beneficiaries from this will be the three remaining banks, still with FDR home loans firmly in offering for their clients be it for new loans or renewals, namely DBS, StanChart and HSBC.  Why do I say that?  There are two reasons and I let me explain shortly.  First it is noteworthy for me to point out that DBS, which pioneered the whole concept of pegging mortgage interest rate to deposit rates back in 2014 (probably a first in the world), has remained the most steadfast and consistent in terms of its mortgage strategy and execution which bodes well for shareholders of the bank.


The Withdrawal Proves Its Usefulness

We have long said in this blog that the cost structures and funding strategies of the banks are all different and there is no point speculating whether longer tenure FDR tranche will go up more often or less often than shorter tenure tranches.  Some banks will find it harder to manage FDR than others, ie. the cost implications for raising deposit rates is more real for some than others.  With the recent moves, apparently what we said is true as some banks decided to call it quits for FDR loans.

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However, the irony is this – the very fact that some lenders are finding it difficult to maintain or hike FDR without hitting their costs proves what we have been advocating all this while is correct, that FDR makes for a better mortgage peg than SIBOR or BOARD, when interest cycle is going up.

We do not fully comprehend what is going on behind the scenes for the withdrawal of FDR mortgage peg.  Perhaps there is a change in the banks’ mortgage strategy, with the recent run-up in SIBOR.  Or there are some changes in the management team which brings new direction.  No matter what cause the withdrawal, what is certain is that the market will now perceive FDR to be the preferred mortgage peg even more so than before.  Which leads me to my next point.


Those Who Want FDR Will Have To Refinance Out

Those who were on FDR home loans previously and who now like to stay put on the same mortgage peg on renewals would be forced to look elsewhere as their existing banks no longer offer the peg.  Unless they choose fixed rates for repricing, otherwise they would most likely be given the option of switching over to either a SIBOR-based or BOARD-based home loan package.

And instead of total 6 lenders offering FDR in the past, we are now down to half this number who might get bulk of the business going forward.


Of course, this is only our opinion and we could be wrong in our assessment.  We also need to put a caveat here – how the individual banks manange their various FDR increases over time will say a lot about who is more dependable as a lender who maintains a fair rate hike policy that is commensurate with the overall increase in market interest rate.  We know of clients who were upset with recent increases in FDR from one bank that come right on the heels of a hike barely just 4 months earlier.

So, it does not always mean that choosing FDR would triumph over BOARD – making sure you pick the right FDR tranche with the right lender is more important.  To this end, it makes perfect sense to use the service of a professional mortgage consultant who tracks the all the changes in the mortgage market closely. Speak to our consultants now.

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Still by and large, for floating rate packages we would still argue for FDR over BOARD or SIBOR for the simple fact that it has proven to be less volatile so far and lenders have largely waited considerable time lags before announcing any unpopular hikes.  For this reason, we hope lenders would bring back FDR home loans at some point when they sense that it can be a viable mortgage tool that works for both homeowners as well as lenders themselves.  Afterall, if you think about it deeply, FDR can really work just like a BOARD rate which morphs into multiple tranches over time.  For example, lenders can break FDR into 50 tranches from 1-month to 50-month fixed deposit to carry the idea to the extreme.  Not every tranche of fixed deposit is going to cost the bank in the same way when they choose to hike it.

The real difference from our perspective is that, as all FDR rates are published publicly on the bank’s website, FDR increases are more visible and hence under greater scrutiny than increases in BOARD rates which are less transparent.  But isn’t that the fundamental reason why the market would prefer FDR over BOARD in the first place?  And also why we would still recommend FDR as the way forward for homeowners in Singapore.


Since 2014, has provided thought leadership in the mortgage planning space in Singapore, taking deep dives into the latest trends in the industry, providing useful mortgage tips, and making sense of rate movements. We aim to build trust with clients for longer term partnership and not just do product-pushing for a one-time deal unlike bankers. That’s why we always present “whole-of-market” perspective including packages that banks do not pay us. That’s why many have chosen to work with us in the end notwithstanding the sheer number of brokers and agents out there. See their testimonials.


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rising interest rate

Interest Rate Rising?

Last week, two banks announced the latest hike to their FDR home loan pegs with Maybank’s FDMR36 going up from 1.40% to 1.80% on 26 Jun, and OCBC finally moving up their 36-month FDR as well from 0.65% to 0.95% effective 2 Aug.  The latter move was correctly predicted by us (on 23 May) as the next likely FDR to be revised up after the recent increase by DBS also in May.

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Has cost of funds went up in the interbank market after the latest US Fed rate hike in June?  We are not quite sure to be honest and as I have mentioned before in this blog, banks will always be privy to any rate movements in the interbank before the rest of the market finds out and it does seem like liquidity is drying up (see graph below) with a strengthening dollar over the past month.  And as of 3 July, 1-month and 3-month SIBOR has went up to 1.44809 and 1.57483 respectively.

FD link rate hikes


Here’s a few other noteworthy observations:

1. Fixed Rates Are Going Up

The local banks, which always set the benchmark being market leaders, have moved up their fixed rates from 1.85-1.95% from a month ago to the prevailing range of 1.95-2.18%.  At current moment, there are just less than a handful of foreign lenders still holding on to 2-year fixed rate at 1.75% or 3-year fixed rate at average 1.82%, but not for very much longer.  My take is they would soon catchup after July.

So, for those who concur with the consensus view that rates can only go north from here, and who like to lock down fixed rates at 1.75% level, you would need to act quickly.  Speak to our consultants today who can run the numbers and show you how much you stand to save, especially when we are now offering exclusively to MortgageWise clients our “Zero-Cost Refinancing” option.

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2. Floating Rates Are Also Going Up

We just said that local banks always set the benchmark, especially DBS with access to the largest pool of Sing dollar funding in its CASA (current account and savings account) base of POSB accounts. The bank has just raised its prevailing floating rate from 1.65% to 1.75% throughout on 22 June last month, and other lenders are poised to follow soon.

Incidentally DBS still keep to its old rate of 1.65% for those who signed up directly on its website but with a need to purchase mortgage insurance and some other conditions applicable.  And it is also giving a $500 SIA voucher for applications by this month.  Now not many brokers, perhaps none, would be telling clients about direct promotions by banks for fear of losing the deal.  However, at MortgageWise, we always begin our advisory from a long-term partnership perspective and we have no qualms giving you that “whole-of-market” view of all available packages.  In fact, we think we have even more compelling overall value for you at the moment be it new purchase loan or refinancing.  Let us prove to you with numbers why we think so, and you will likely agree with us.

3. Longer-Tenure FDR Tranches Not Always The Best

I have covered this point in great details in my last blog post, debunking some erroneous views that I read on some mortgage sites that longer-tenure tranche FDR with low “spreads” (technically not the real spreads) makes a better option than 8-month FDR for example.  The recent moves by Maybank and OCBC have proven my point that higher FDR values (with low spreads) can go even higher, because no one really walks into a bank to place a fixed deposit for 36-month, will you?

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We also do not presume to know how the different banks’ Treasuries operate in terms of funding structure and hedging strategies. The only reasonable comparison to make on spreads is when the underlying base is the same like SIBOR home loans.  Here, a spread of mere 0.10% for OCBC home loans in the first year for example, above the 3-month SIBOR, is indeed the lowest spread for all SIBOR loans in the market at the moment.  To some extent, if US Fed rate hikes gain pace, a 3-month SIBOR also has a slight laggard effect than 1-month, though the actual difference in interest savings is arguable over long periods.

At the end of day, remember FDR tranches be it 8-month, 9-month, 14-month, 24-month or 36-month are controlled by lenders just like different tranches of BOARD rates, as they are no longer a pure deposit rate or cost of funds for banks but act as a lever for banks to increase their interest margin.  And let me re-iterate this point once more – for some banks, the cost implications for raising certain FDR tranches is more real than others.  Speak to our consultants who can explain to you more on that and why we believe that, at MortgageWise, we have a better way of selecting FDR tranches.


Since 2014, has provided thought leadership in the mortgage planning space in Singapore, taking deep dives into the latest trends in the industry, providing useful mortgage tips, and making sense of rate movements. We aim to build trust with clients for longer term partnership and not just do product-pushing for a one-time deal unlike bankers. That’s why we always present “whole-of-market” perspective including packages that banks do not pay us. That’s why many have chosen to work with us in the end notwithstanding the sheer number of brokers and agents out there. See their testimonials.


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Review Of FDR Home Loans

With the recent spate of rate hikes to FDR (fixed deposit rate) home loan pegs since the start of the year (see our reports in this blog), has FDR lose some of its lustre as a more stable and preferred mortgage peg amongst homeowners in Singapore?  Not exactly.

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Naturally, the emotional response to any rate hikes is to baulk at it and cry foul.  However, as the recent increases this year are across-the-board with total of 5 banks moving up their various tranches of FDR (the only bank yet to make a move on its FDR is HSBC), most homeowners have come to accept the increase as broad-based and market-driven.  It is because the prevailing interest rate characterized by SIBOR has gone up first and banks are now simply playing catchup.  Unless one is locked down on a fixed rate, it will not be fair to expect floating rates to behave like fixed rates if the benchmark interest rate 3-month SIBOR has moved back up from 1.12% to 1.50% in the last 6 months.

Before we go on, we need to give a brief history of what is FDR home loans.


What Is FDR Home Loans And How Does It Work?

This could likely be a uniquely-Singapore innovation in the mortgage industry first introduced by DBS in Jun 2014 when it started pegging its home loans to a chosen fixed deposit rate tranche (average of the 12-month and 24-month fixed deposit rate for deposits in the band $1,000 to $9,999) and named its peg FHR (Fixed Deposit Home Rate).  Though initially shrugged off by its peers in the industry, it has taken the market by storm and by 2015 all the major mortgage lenders have rolled out their own version of what we refer to collectively as FDR or “fixed deposit rate” home loans – in the order of OCBC, SCB, UOB, MAYBANK and finally HSBC which was the last to launch its 24TDMR (pegged to 24-month fixed deposit) last December in 2017.

How FDR home loan works is that, instead of pegging mortgage interest traditionally to 1-month or 3-month SIBOR which fluatuates on a daily basis as determined by demand and supply forces in the money market, the interest is pegged to a published deposit rate for a particular tranche of fixed deposit as defined by the respective bank.  For example, the latest FDR tranche to be introduced to the market is StanChart’s 36FDR pegged to its 36-month fixed deposit rate, currently at 0.72%.  This rate will change once banks revise its deposit rates like what happened earlier in the year, and the bank will give a one month’s notice in writing before actually moving up the mortage interest rate.


How Does It Compare To Other Mortgage Pegs?

Generally, there are three types of mortgage pegs in the Singapore market which are neatly summarized in the chart below:

mortgage pegs comparison

All the eight major mortgage lenders in the market offer SIBOR home loans but only four offer FDR home loans after OCBC replaced its FDR with OHR (OCBC Home Rate) last October.  The latter is somewhat of a BOARD rate except that the bank has indicated that it will take reference on the long-term average of SIBOR, but stop short of giving a pre-defined formula for how OHR will be calculated or set.


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How Has FDR Moved Historically So Far?

As banks tend to “close out” a tranche of FDR after it has signed up a good number of mortgage accounts pegged to it, before “opening” a new tranche on a whole different FD tenure, over time it becomes difficult for the market to track the historical patterns.  Not unless you choose to work with a professional mortgage consultant.

At MortgageWise, this is one of the value-add we provide to clients as we monitor very closely all FDR tranches released and closed off by the respective lenders.  To give you an overview, we present here the 5-year historical trendings of the “initial-launched” tranche of FDR from each bank, as that would give the longest history of its correlation with 3-month SIBOR.  Newly-launched or tranches currently in offer will not give any meaningful insights as we will not see any increases yet.

SIBOR vs FDR tracking


If you like to see the mapping out of all FDR tranches within the same bank, just ask our consultants for it as it is almost impossible to map out over a dozen tranches on the same chart.  Better yet, work with us long-term as your trusted mortgage consultant and you can access the most accurate mortgage information, along with the latest rates (including special deviated rates from time to time) whenever you like to do a review.

As you can see from the chart, the long-term trending of SIBOR (3-month) is a gradual uptrend in the last 5 years but with a period of softness in the last two years.  That has changed in the final months of 2017 with a strong pickup in rates followed by a V-shape pattern.  We are expecting the longer term trendline to continue with 2 more hikes by US Fed this year and 3 more next year.  Initial-launched FDRs have remained stable for long periods and the broad-based hikes earlier this year is well justified reflecting the strong pick up in interest rate over the last few months.


Conclusion on FDR Home Loan

On the whole, lenders have largely kept to their side of the deal where they would calibrate carefully each hike on FDR to follow only after the increase in SIBOR.  You can see from the chart that the recent run-up in SIBOR (3-month) started around October 2016 and it took 1.5 years for SIBOR to move up roughly 40 basis points (from average 0.90% to 1.30% in the period), whereas the broad-based reaction from lenders come as a laggard and some tranches the increase was half of 0.40% (read our other report).

Hence, we maintain our stance that in an environment of rising rates, SIBOR would be the first to move up and FDR will continue to be a laggard mortgage peg.  For those who use the service of a professional mortgage advisor, this laggard effect could be further enhanced by targeting the correct FDR tranche in the market at time of loan application.

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That brings me to another point which I like to make as I read some blogs out there propagating the idea that longer-tenure FDR tranches make a better choice as it comes with “lower spreads”, or that shorter-tenure FDR tranches have more room to go up as they start from a lower base. As there are different cost structures amongst different banks with local banks having access to the largest pool of Sing dollar funding than their foreign peers, it is hard to decipher which deposit tranche will go up more than the rest.  Also, no one really walks into a bank to place fixed deposit for a 36-month tenure, will you?  So logically with a smaller base of deposit accounts on longer-tenures, such FDRs will tend to exhibit more the nature of a mortgage-lending rate than that of a deposit-funding rate to the bank.

The truth is no one really knows how banks would manage the various deposit tranches going forward as they also act as a lever for banks to raise interest margin with the concept of FDR. Some banks may also decide to meaningfully hold back the increase for certain tranches for strategic or competitive reasons.  Case in point – OCBC raised all its FDR tranches in March this year except for its 36-month FDMR, which come as a pleasant surprise for some.

By keeping watch and monitoring closely FDR movements in the market against SIBOR, we do offer our own assessment on what we believe is a much better way to time FDR increases and pick the right FDR tranche for the most interest savings.  Speak to our consultants to find out more.


Since 2014, has provided thought leadership in the mortgage planning space in Singapore, taking deep dives into the latest trends in the industry, providing useful mortgage tips, and making sense of rate movements. We aim to build trust with clients for longer term partnership and not just do product-pushing for a one-time deal unlike bankers. That’s why we always present “whole-of-market” perspective including packages that banks do not pay us. That’s why many have chosen to work with us in the end notwithstanding the sheer number of brokers and agents out there. See their testimonials.


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DBS Bank Singapore

When Will Lenders Hike FDR Again?

Earlier this month on 9 May, DBS revised the board fixed deposit rates from 9 to 12 months affecting the FDR home loans for two tranches – FHR9 and the original FHR (definited as the average between the 12-month and 24-month FD rate).  The changes are as follows:

BankMortgage Peg*Date*Old RateNew RateIncrease By


FHR99 May0.250.500.25
(ave of 12M & 24M)
9 May0.675
1.00 (24M)
1.00 (24)

* This is the date where the FD rate is adjusted, the FDR hike will only take effect after a 1-month notice by the bank which will be sometime in June.


With this latest move and the most recent broad-based hikes in February, almost all the past tranches of FDR home loan pegs offered by all six lenders with FDR home loans since 2014 have moved, except for OCBC’s 36FDMR.  See our review on the last FDR rate hikes in February.

With US 10-year yields breaching the all-important 3% point and staying up, and with at least two or maybe three more rounds of rate hikes by US Fed this year with one upcoming in next month’s FOMC, the upward trajectory of SIBOR seems intact.  At MortgageWise, we usually only adjust our forecast after the June FOMC if need be, and with SIBOR back to where we started the year at – above 1.50% (3-month SIBOR), we are likely to maintain our forecast that it will finally hit the 2% mark in over a decade before the year is up.

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Does this mean that all of us should jump on the fixed rate mortgage wagon?  Yes and no.

The facts have held up FDR thus far to be a reliable and stable mortgage peg and a laggard to SIBOR movements.  On the whole, the increases to FDR peg has been in the region of 0.20% to 0.30% and coming only after a big movement of SIBOR by almost 0.50% in the past year.  And we have observed that it takes approximately a year and a half before lenders would hike a new FD tranche as it takes time to sign up a significant number of loans before any hike would be meaningful enough to lift interest margin.  That said, we would expect the next broad-based hike to happen in early 2019 for the current tranche of FDRs (FHR8, FDPR14, FDR9) on offer from the major banks, as these were launched mostly in Q4 of 2017.  This is also contingent on our forecast that 3-month SIBOR will hit 2% by end of the year which is another 50 basis point climb from the current levels.  However, we do think a few specific FDR pegs might hike much earlier before the year is up and most notably OCBC’s 36FDMR which has not moved since day one of its launch (still at 0.65%) which is kudos to the bank’s commitment to customers and augers well for those signing up for its new OHR home loan peg.

Still, at such snail pace of a mere 0.25% climb per year in FDR, it is not a clear-cut knock-out decision to go fixed yet.  One needs to look at various factors like the need to sell, paydown etc. which would not be available in most fixed rate home loans that come with lock-in periods.  The size of the outstanding loan is also important.  There are at least six factors to consider before deciding on fixed versus floating rate home loan and we have got that covered neatly in another article published in March in this blog.

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Curently the gap between fixed and floating rate is still hovering in the range of 0.15% to 0.25% which predisposes the choice more to fixed in the current interest rate cycle.  We would thus recommend most to go on the lowest fixed rate for loans below $1m.  And to this end we make no distinction between local or foreign lenders, and between big or small banks.  A fixed rate contract is exactly what it is defined as – fixed repayment that one contracts with the bank during the fixed term. There is no need to side-guess which FDR peg will rise up by when and by how much.

But for bigger loans, every basis point savings count and it might still be alright to take a bet on FDR or even OCBC OHR with such snail pace of increases we have seen recently.  Incidentally, the smartest thing to do here might be to sign on to a FDR tranche that is newly-launched which in theory has the least propensity to move up in the near term for reasons we have articulated earlier.

If in doubt, speak to our dedicated consultants today who could do a review on your mortgage and calculate which package yields the most savings over time using our proprietary Interest Simulator.

And for those with no lock-in or lock-in expiry within 6 months, this could be the best time to review as we just launched our Zero-Cost Refinancing benefit for all MortgageWise clients, terms and conditions apply.


Since 2014, has provided thought leadership in the mortgage planning space in Singapore, taking deep dives into the latest trends in the industry, providing useful mortgage tips, and making sense of rate movements. We aim to build trust with clients for longer term partnership and not just do product-pushing for a one-time deal unlike bankers. That’s why we always present “whole-of-market” perspective including packages that banks do not pay us. That’s why many have chosen to work with us in the end notwithstanding the sheer number of brokers and agents out there. See their testimonials.


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OHR Is Not 12-Year Moving Average

OCBC made a bold move away from FDR (fixed deposit rate) home loans back in September 2017 by replacing them with its unique OHR (OCBC Home Rate) mortgage peg which was first reported in this blog.

Six months later, OHR has remained at its launched value of 1.00% and it has also remained a singular peg across the board for all OCBC home loans, compared to FDR home loans in the market which has mushroomed into more than a dozen FD tranches from 8M, 9M, 14M, 24M, 36M and so on from the various lenders.  It becomes harder for the average homeowner to keep track of the duration of each FD tranche and hence how likely the bank will next adjust the peg.

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This article serves as an update to our introduction of OHR which is still a fairly new mortgage peg in the market.  Before that we also need to recap the short history of FDR home loans.  DBS pioneered the latter in 2014 as a unique category of home loan pegs in Singapore where mortgages are no longer tied to a traditional lending rate like SIBOR, SOR or BOARD rate, but instead to one of its pre-designated fixed deposit tranche interest rate published on its website daily.  The attraction is that deposit rates are cost of funds to the banks and no lender will want to raise it frequently or frivously.  However, as thought leader in the industry, we have forewarned right from outset that cost structures vary from bank to bank and some may be more likely to hike FDR than others.  Since then five other major mortgage players (in the order of OCBC, UOB, SCB, MAYBANK and HSBC) have rolled out their own versions of FDR home loans.

OCBC introduced OHR as a new mortgage peg that “does not fluctuate with short-term interest rates”.  Even though it presented a 12-year historical chart on the average 1-month and 3-month SIBOR at its launch and in its subsequent sales pitch to clients, there is no pre-set formula given as to how the bank will determine the value of OHR.  The bank has reminded just last month that OHR shoud not be marketed as a moving 12-year average of 1-month and 3-month SIBOR.

So, what is the performance of OHR to-date?  Based on our anecdotal evidence, overall the market has largely taken to OHR warmly as a trusted mortgage peg from one of the three well-known local banks in Singapore who will have too much to lose should it mismanage this peg.  This means the bank not keeping to its promise of a peg that “does not fluctuate with short term interest rates”.

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Now we need to be clear here – the bank did not commit that OHR will never move, just that it will not move in accordance with short term movements in interest rates.  I will interpret this to mean that when the bank decides to hike OHR eventually, it will first take a look at what is the average long-term trendline of 1-month and 3-month SIBOR be it based on 5-year, 10-year or 12-year, or even longer, and not the average increase of SIBOR over the last 3 months to a year.

If you look at how much 3-month SIBOR has moved in the past one year from 0.99% exactly one year ago in May 2017 to the current 1.50%, that is a movement of 0.50%.  In the past two months, five other banks have adjusted their FDR loan pegs as a result of this steady rise in benchmark interest rate, which we discussed and summarized in an earlier article.  In our opinion the recent round of hikes is justified as it comes so much more later which is in keeping with the definition of FDR – a delayed or laggard peg to SIBOR.

In fact, homeowners can draw confidence that OCBC is the only bank that has yet to hike its longest-standing FDR tranche of 36FDMR which was launched on 29 Oct 2015 and replaced with 48FDMR only by April 2017 – a total of 17 months or 1½ years’ worth of mortgage books signed.  We were surprised the bank chose not to increase 36FDMR tranche in the latest hikes which means those who were signed onto OCBC floating rate packages as far back as end-2015 were effectively on “fixed” rates for almost two years and still counting.

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It follows then that before the bank will make any move on OHR which by definition is not to fluctuate with any short-term rate movements, it would have to first hike its 36FDMR.  We will be hoping that the two events do not happen at the same time and the bank will only hike OHR two years later as SIBOR continues on its current trajectory.  This would then make OHR the next best mortgage peg to a fixed rate home loan in the current enviornment where everyone is scuffling for the lowest fixed rates.

Finally, some disclaimer to put out.  We do not presume to know exactly how banks really operate and they could hike OHR or FDR sooner rather than later.  The views presented here remain largely opinions which may or may not borne out.  We just want to provide an alternative to fixed rates especially for those with a bigger loan quantum and who would rather take a bet on a lower floating rate for immediate savings.  Pick your bet wisely.


Since 2014, has provided thought leadership in the mortgage planning space in Singapore, taking deep dives into the latest trends in the industry, providing useful mortgage tips, and making sense of rate movements. We aim to build trust with clients for longer term partnership and not just do product-pushing for a one-time deal unlike bankers. That’s why we always present “whole-of-market” perspective including packages that banks do not pay us. That’s why many have chosen to work with us in the end notwithstanding the sheer number of brokers and agents out there. See their testimonials.


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FDR Still Good After Recent Increase?

We are the first to report on our blog that DBS has hiked its FHR18 mortgage peg on 1 Feb 2018 from 0.60% to 0.80%. Since then, four other lenders with FDR home loans have subsequently announced hikes in selected FDR tranches as we have expected, with OCBC and UOB being the last two to announce after the CNY break.  This widespread increment is due to a “pent-up” pressure on the part of lenders who have held on to low deposit rates for a long time in the midst of a rising SIBOR over the past year (3-month SIBOR touched a high of 1.37 as at 1 March).  In fact, the last hike in FDR happened more than two years ago back in December 2015.  It was a long overdue move.

We summarize below the latest round of FDR rate hikes at-one-glance:

BankFDR Peg*Date*Old RateNew RateIncrease By
DBSFHR181 Feb0.600.800.20
SCB48FDR6 Feb0.500.900.40
MAYBANKFDMR3610 Feb1.201.400.20
1 Mar0.25
UOB36FDPR5 Mar0.651.000.35

* Note: This is the date of announcement as we understand, not the effective date as banks need to give a notice of 1 month before making any adjustments.  Also, not all the FD tranches are adjusted, for example DBS hiked only deposit rates for 18-month whereas OCBC did not hike that for 36-month.  We only tabulate here those tranches affected.


For those affected, some would have received the notification letters by now or some have yet to open their mails.  Cold comfort to some, still it is good to understand that indeed the broad market has moved up and this is the first major round of increases on FDR pegs across-the-boardin the industry.  It will not be the last one for sure, depending on the speed at how SIBOR moves up in the next few years.  Or will it just hit a certain level and plateau.  And to be fair, most clients who signed on to floating rate packages in the past year probably balked at paying extra for the higher fixed rates at the point of application, especially when the direction of interest rate movements were still unclear then.  They would also have enjoyed moderate to substantial savings on floating rate in the past year depending on the package signed.

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With the strong pickup in interest rates in US, does this mark the end of FDR home loans after this recent experience of rate hikes by many?  Hardly.  I think we need to put things in perspective and in fact, so far the banks have largely kept to what an FDR home loan promise to be.  It is timely to re-visit the tenets why we picked FDR as a more preferred home loan peg over the traditional SIBOR ever since 2015 – when interest rate cycles begin to trend up.


1. FDR Is A More Stable And Less Volatile Mortgage Peg

SIBOR (3-month) has been volatile lately but the fundamental trending has been an increase from 0.87-0.99% level since 2016 to 1.20-1.50% level this year, that’s approximately a climb of 30-50 basis points in two years.  More significantly US Fed has hiked four more times since that historical first rate hike in a decade back in Dec 2015 and the US Fed funds rate has risen from 0% to 0.25% in 2015 to the current 1.25% to 1.50%.  But banks here have taken a long time to level up with SIBOR – we actually expected them to respond by mid of 2017 but our call was wrong.  They waited almost two years and four more Fed hikes later before they made the first major increase in deposit rates – and with an average increase of 20-40 basis points.  The next round of increases will not take so long though.


2. FDR Is Highly-Visible (Published Online) And Subject To Scrutiny

I am sure we are not the only mortgage blog that talks about this recent hike.  As FDRs are essentially “Fixed Deposit Board Rates” which are published on the banks’ website daily and open for scrutiny, banks will need to calibrate every adjustment carefully.  This is in stark constrast to the traditional BOARD lending rate which is opaque and internal to the bank which makes it hard for the market to monitor.

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3. FDR Can Have Cost Implications For Lenders When They Hike

This is the biggest selling point touted by banks when FDR was launched.  We have however repeatedly caution that fixed deposits can form only a small part of the overall funding base of selected banks, depending on the FD tranches selected, local vs foreign bank funding structure, etc. In short, lenders may benefit more when they hike deposit rates than you think would cost them in terms of hainv to pay higher interests to depositors.  Simply because deposit rates are no longer just cost of funds to the banks, but a lever to raise interest margin.  Like what they always say, banks will not lose money.

This third argument for FDR is what we are not too convinced right from day one, if you have been following this blog.  Now that banks have rolled out so many tranches of FDR, it becomes even more difficult for the market to keep track of the no of times and magnitude of each increment.  Still, the laggard effect to SIBOR increase and the visibility of FDR pegs far outweigh the negatives.  And this recent round of FDR increment proves that lenders have been responsible thus far in terms of playing catch up with SIBOR.  In fact, some lenders have deliberately chosen to hold back increment for tranches like OCBC 36-month and DBS FHR (ave of 12 & 24-month) which we were little surprised as these tranches would have substantial mortgage sign-ups.

The choice remains clear between SIBOR and FDR home loans – the latter is the way forward when interest goes on an upswing over the next few years (not forgetting we do have another alternative altogether in OHR which the bank claimed it will not fluctuate with short term rates).  I guess the dissonance some homeowners felt when receiving letters on the impending adjustment of their FDR peg is not so much a result of choosing FDR home loans, but that between fixed rate and floating rate FDR home loans.  One needs to make a clear distinction here.  To go fixed or floating is a whole different topic of discusson and to that we have always highlighted there are at least six factors to consider before one makes a decision.  Stay tuned to this blog as we revisit some of these considerations or speak to our consultants now for a quick decision before rate rises further.

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And one of those six factors has to do with the gap between fixed and floating rate which is currently still at an all-time narrowest range of 0.15% (between the lowest FDR floating rate of 1.60% and the lowest fixed rate of average 1.75%).  That is an obvious enough hint.  Why such a close gap? Beats me.  Lenders are still very much willing to keep their floating rates at the same level as previous month, but more and more are now moving to increase their fixed rates.  We are just waiting for that last one or two banks to close off their current tranche of fixed rate promos and we will off to a higher prevailing level for fixed.  All depends on the movement of SIBOR (3-month) from here.  We will see how that plays out.

Some people might realize, after this recent episode of FDR hikes, that they could use the service of a professional mortgage broker who does all the tracking of different FDR tranches from the various banks on a full-time basis.  Having a dedicated mortgage partner who call as early as 6 months ahead of renewal time or lock-in expiry date takes on greater significance as interest cycle turns upwards over the next few years.  Work with established players with the expertise, system capability, accurate rates information, and sometimes access to certain deviated rates or special promo terms.  This is what we do here at MortgageWise for our clients as we seek to work with you long term.  Speak to our consultants today.


Since 2014, has provided thought leadership in the mortgage planning space in Singapore, taking deep dives into the latest trends in the industry, providing useful mortgage tips, and making sense of rate movements. We aim to build trust with clients for longer term partnership and not just do product-pushing for a one-time deal unlike bankers. That’s why we always present “whole-of-market” perspective including packages that banks do not pay us. That’s why many have chosen to work with us in the end notwithstanding the sheer number of brokers and agents out there. See their testimonials.


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DBS, OCBC, UOB – 2017 Report Card

The three local banks reported their 2017 full year financials just before the CNY break which might have seen some of us too busy with the festivities to take notice or digest the info, other than news of the commitment of $1.20 dividend payout from DBS going forward which is a respectable 4.1% yield at today’s closing price of DBS $28.70 (as at 28 Feb).  Those who have followed our advice almost two years ago (Jan 2016) and bought DBS shares at $14 on equity term loan then, would be laughing all the way to the bank now.  At entry price of $14, that’s 8.5% dividend yield promised by a blue chip stock on top of the almost 100% capital gain.  No body will raise an eyebrow paying more mortgage interest to the same bank who is paying him back even more!

Now back to the financials.  Most of the banks power ahead in 2017 with both solid broad-based loans growth as well as interest margin pickup in the 2nd half of 2017, after dipping earlier in the year when SIBOR (3-month) made an about turn down after hitting a high of 1.25 back in April 2017.

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As usual, at MortgageWise, we concern ourselves mainly with the performance of the mortgage business amongst the three big boys and see how they stack up against the market.  A quick glance of the key ratios (Y-on-Y) are presented below.

UOB OCBC DBS mortgage business 2017


Source: SGX


DBS registered the strongest and double-digit loans growth which got its CEO to comment in his presentation slides (see below) that their mortgage market share in Singapore grew from 28.7% as at end-2016 to 30.8% at end of 2017.  From MAS statistics we know that the total mortgage market in Singapore (including bridging loan which is insignificant amount) comes up to $192.1b and $200.3b as at end of 2016 and 2017 respectively.  Working backwards it means that DBS housing loan portfolio in Singapore has risen from $55.1b to $61.7b which is a whopping 12% increase which is synonymous with the increase in their overall mortgage book across all countries.

DBS 2017Q4 CEO observations

Source: SGX, DBS-4Q17-CEO-Presentation-Slides


As OCBC and UOB did not provide any breakdowns or hint on their Singapore mortgage loan book as a percentage of total, we can only surmise a guess based on this same ratio exhibited at DBS of 84% ($61.7b out of total $73.293b).  This puts OCBC’s and UOB’s mortgage book in Singapore at approximately $54.2b and $55.1b so the three local banks continue to command the lion’s share of $171b or 85% of the total mortgage market.

Another observation is that although DBS registered the highest loan growth in terms of volume, its NIM or net interest margin actually fell by 5 basis point to 1.75 in the year when compared to 2016.  UOB bucked this trend as the only one in the trio that actually show an increase of NIM by 6 basis points.  One possible reasoning could be UOB has a bigger pool of existing home loans still peg to their old BOARD or SIBOR rates which has gone up in 2nd half of the year.  This is because it is the last of the trio to introduce FDR (Fixed Deposit Rate) home loans.  On the other hand, unless DBS and OCBC hiked their FDR tranches they will not be able to benefit immediately from the rise in interest rates from their mortgage base; they could only benefit from their lending in the interbank market or corporate loans which are usually pegged to SOR or SIBOR.

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Indeed, DBS was the first to raise their FHR18 peg by a reasonable 0.20% at the start of February while we are still awaiting similar actions from the other two local banks.  It will not be too long.  Some foreign banks like Maybank and SCB have already made their respective moves on their FDR tranches.

On the funding side, although all banks manage to grow their CASA (current account savings accounts) deposits annually (see OCBC slides below), fixed deposits as a whole still form a large part of the funding source for OCBC (42% of total deposits in all currencies) and UOB (51%).  This could explain why for OCBC there seems to be shift away from FDR home loans towards end of 2017 (in Q4) by replacing it with the new OHR mortgage peg which the bank claimed is referenced on the long-term trending of SIBOR and will not fluctuate with short-term rates.  The bank is re-thinking its mortgage strategy and choosing to delink its mortgage peg (what drives interest income) from its cost of funds (fixed deposit tranches).  All eyes will now be on how the bank manages OHR which could turn out to be the next best thing to fixed rate.

OCBC FY2017 financial results

OCBC FY2017 financial results

Source: SGX, OCBC-FY2017-Results-Presentation


One thing for sure, when interest rate rises over the next few years, all banks will have to move their lending rate up including OHR I believe.  As long as this is paced neatly following a sufficient lag from SIBOR’s climb, it will be construed as fair by the market, just like this recent round of increases.  The only way to lock down mortgage costs and not let it rise is to go for fixed rates – that is why we have been calling for a switch to fixed rates since end of last year in the run-up to the tax reform bill in US.  It is still not too late, with fixed rates still hovering below 2% – in the 1.65% to 1.85% range.  At this level it is wise to go for as long as a fixed term as one possibly can; anything below 2% is still historically-low by any measure.  So contact our consultants today.

Finally I need to qualify here we are not research analysts who spent their time poring over financial statements.  We are simply using a common sense approach to look at key banking ratios and to link them with developments in the mortgage market which we track very closely for our clients.  We do this in a bid to decipher what would make for a good recommendation to our client.  Speak to us if you like to work with us long term.


Since 2014, has provided thought leadership in the mortgage planning space in Singapore, taking deep dives into the latest trends in the industry, providing useful mortgage tips, and making sense of rate movements. We aim to build trust with clients for longer term partnership and not just do product-pushing for a one-time deal unlike bankers. That’s why we always present “whole-of-market” perspective including packages that banks do not pay us. That’s why many have chosen to work with us in the end notwithstanding the sheer number of brokers and agents out there. See their testimonials.


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Banks Start Moving Up FDR

We are spot on again at MortgageWise when we predicted end of last year (14 Dec) that we believe with impending rise in SIBOR local banks would start to move on their FDR loan pegs by Q1 2018, and it could come as early as January 2018.


We are close enough by one day. Just this past week on 1 Feb, DBS raised its deposit rate for 18-month Singapore dollar fixed deposit rate from 0.60% to 0.80% (as verified on its website). Meanwhile the deposit rate for FHR tranches 12-month, 24-month, 9-month and 8-month remains at the same level of 0.35%, 1.00%, 0.25% and 0.20% respectively. What this means is that homeowners whose home loans are pegged to the popular FHR18 loan peg signed between October 2015 and March 2017 would now see their mortgage interest go up by 0.20% and they should be receiving the notification from the bank shortly.

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Does that mean FDR home loans are no longer desirable? And what about all the other banks with FDR home loans would they be moving up soon?


Now we have to put this in perspective. Besides DBS, the rest of players with FDR home loans would most likely follow suit with some kind of hike, especially when the yield on US 10-year Treasuries has shot past 2.80% level, a high not seen since end of 2013 and for most parts before 2011 or the financial crisis of 2009. Three-month SIBOR (Singapore Interbank Offer Rate) has shot up a massive 25 basis points towards end of 2017 but has since retreated somewhat to 1.18% as at last week. However, against such an economic backdrop it is unlikely to stay suppressed for too long and the banks, being privy to movements in the interbank market, may have likely detected some upward pressure.


To be fair to lenders, the last raise in FDR rate was all the way back in Dec 2015 which makes it a full two-year period in which no lenders have moved on FDR home loan peg even though SIBOR has climbed steadily during this time from 0.62% at one stage and doubling to the current 1.18% as you can see from the graph below (which incidentally tracks the correlation between US funds rate and SIBOR over a period of 30 years). During this time, US Fed has also further hiked the federal funds rate four more times (Dec 2016, Mar 2017, Sep 2017, Dec 2017) since that historical first rate hike in a decade back in Dec 2015, moving it from almost 0.25-0.50% to a range of between 1.25-1.50%, or a full 1% hike over approximately two-year period.

Correlation US fed funds rate and 3-month SIBOR



At MortgageWise, the basis of our recommendation over the last few years has always been and remains largely unchanged to-date – even though FDR (fixed deposit rate) home loan pegs are controlled by lenders just like BOARD rate in the past, its transparent and highly-visible nature means lenders will need to deliberate carefully before each increase. This is in stark contrast to BOARD rate, which no one really knows when the bank has raised, by how much, and how large a portfolio of loan accounts has been affected.


And we have also argued that in theory, the pace of increase in FDR will lag behind that of SIBOR, which will always be the first to respond to any change in money market forces, both upwards and downwards. This is because conceptually banks should only move up on deposit rates when liquidity becomes tighter and cost of fund rises. As long as it happens in that sequence, FDR will remain a better choice as a mortgage peg than SIBOR when interest rate cycle is going up – the reverse is true when that cycles turns.


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And we are glad to report so far it has proven to be so with banks only adjusting FDR once over a two-year period and by a mere 0.20% here when SIBOR has increased by a much larger magnitude of 0.60% to 1.00%.


Would the other banks follow DBS’s move to hike their respective FDR tranches? The question is not will they but how soon and by how much. And this is exactly what we will be tracking here at MortgageWise for our valued clients. Just ask our consultant for our FDR movements tracking chart over the last 3-5 years.


We hope to provide all the information you need to make the most informed decision, first between fixed and floating rate taking into consideration your situation (loan size and if the costs of switching banks make sense or not) and your objective (looking to sell? Or pay down?). Next, we hope to aid you in deciding which banks’ packages, loan pegs, and even which FDR tranche makes the most sense as they do not all rise in tandem as you can see here in the lastest example.


Incidentally with fixed rates still this close to prevailing floating rate, it makes perfect sense to quickly lock down 2-year fixed at 1.65% and 3-year fixed from 1.70% (first year). And we have made this call repeatedly so often until we are sounding like a broken record. We just do not know when lenders will start to adjust their fixed rate up, but some already did in the last few weeks. So speak to our consultants quickly!


Since 2014, has provided thought leadership in the mortgage planning space in Singapore, taking deep dives into the latest trends in the industry, providing useful mortgage tips, and making sense of rate movements. We aim to build trust with clients for longer term partnership and not just do product-pushing for a one-time deal unlike bankers. That’s why we always present “whole-of-market” perspective including packages that banks do not pay us. That’s why many have chosen to work with us in the end notwithstanding the sheer number of brokers and agents out there. See their testimonials.


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