As more and more people attempt to get their foot onto the property ladder, this article will examine in detail the alternatives to conventional mortgages. In recent years there has been significant growth in alternatives to traditional mortgages, and what this means in principle is more choice for those looking to purchase assets or property in a Sharia compliant way.
There are many different reasons why people look for alternatives to mortgages:
- Flexibility: people want more flexibility when it comes to financing property or asset purchases.
- Accessibility: for some investors, alternatives to interest-based mortgage products are problematic as they contravene Islamic finance rules and ethical investment principles.
- Cost: alternative mortgage products can be cheaper overall than the standard mortgage products available in the UK, especially for those with poor credit scores.
- Less risky: there is sometimes less risk associated with alternative mortgages.
A conventional mortgage arrangement exists as a loan between a lender (bank) and an individual or company. The lender lends you the money to buy the property and in return, the borrower repays the money they have borrowed plus interest.
The mortgage loan itself is secured against the property and against the value of the property.
For many potential homeowners, a conventional mortgage is not a viable option, especially those looking for Islamic finance or ethical mortgages.
One of the main reasons traditional mortgages are shunned is that they are interest-centred and therefore not Sharia compliant. This has led to Muslims and ethical investors looking for alternative financial products to source funding when buying a property.
Interest is strictly prohibited under Islamic finance rules, so Muslims have had to look outside the traditional mortgage market in order to secure funding for their real estate and asset purchases.
However, it is not only Muslims who are looking at the market for alternatives to traditional mortgage products and services. As the ethical finance market continues to grow, many ethical investors and purchasers are also looking to secure funding that comes without hefty interest payments and charges.
Islamic banks and products under the Islamic finance banner are often considered to be a safer option than the finance options available on the mainstream finance market. The reason for this is that they are seen as less risky and less speculative.
Normally, these types of mortgages are based on higher interest rates than conventional mortgages and for this reason alone they are not Sharia compliant and are deemed to be haram.
There are some Islamic banks within the UK that offer a buy-to-let mortgage product, and if you want to review what is on offer you need to make sure that the product is 100% Sharia compliant.
The bank, or financial institution, will purchase the property outright on behalf of the homeowner. The bank and the homeowner will agree the payments that the homeowner will make to the bank in lieu of repayment.
The homeowner will then make the repayments to the bank until they have paid off the pre-agreed price of the property. Once all the payments have been made the homeowner will own the property outright.
Home purchase plans give customers the opportunity to get on the property ladder in a halal and Sharia compliant way.
Shared ownership schemes were developed to enable people to get on the property ladder in an affordable way.
When structured correctly, shared ownership mortgages can be halal. If the share (of ownership) being purchased is clearly defined, and the rent on the remaining share is based on payments which are fair then this could be considered a halal alternative to an interest-based mortgage.
Make sure that the rental payments do not attract any interest, and that the terms and conditions of the ownership scheme are clear and concise. In the United Kingdom, shared ownership schemes are regulated and can often be an effective way to get on the property ladder.
If you are interested in a shared ownership scheme, look to see if they are being offered in your local area, and then look to see if any Islamic banks are offering shared ownership services.
Guarantor mortgages are for those people who are unable to purchase a property, or secure funding to make the purchase, on their own.
A guarantor is involved who guarantees that they will repay the mortgage loan amount if the borrower does not make the payments.
Usually, the guarantor is a family member or close friend.
Whilst Islamic finance does permit the concept of a guarantor, in order for the service to be halal it needs to follow Sharia rules relating to such transactions. For example, a guarantor can be involved in a joint purchase transaction. In this type of financial transaction, the guarantor owns a share of the property and the risks are shared.
This is a musharakah arrangement - that is a profit-sharing arrangement or partnership.
If the guarantor mortgage is simply one where the guarantor guarantees the loan repayments with zero ownership rights then this is not permissible under Sharia rules.
Crowdfunding is a relatively new alternative to conventional mortgages. In its very basic form, crowdfunding operates by way of a collection of funds from a crowd of people (investors).
Whilst historically, investment markets have tended to be reliant on interest. However, Islamic crowdfunding is an activity that is deemed to be halal. Funds collected from a community have never been prohibited. In fact, crowdfunding in its very essence can have a positive social impact and this is a key principle of Islamic finance - social responsibility and ethical finance.
Anyone considering crowdfunding should ensure that the crowdfunding arrangement is set up to be fully Sharia compliant.
Self-build mortgages are for those people who want to build their own homes. What this means in principle is that the loan is released to the borrower in stages that coincide with the stages of the build taking place. The final loan amount if based on the value of the property once it has been fully completed.
Halal alternatives to interest-based mortgages have several unique features. They are less risky, less speculative, and more socially responsible.