There's good news on the home loan front. Last week, the country's largest bank, State Bank of India (SBI), cut interest rates on its home loans, unleashing what appears to be a rate war. Indian Overseas Bank has followed suit. The catch here is that instead of bringing down the base rate, to which all home loans are linked and which would benefit both new and existing borrowers, banks are choosing to bring down just the spread, which means that only new borrowers stand to benefit. The interest rate on home loans has two main components—base rate and spread. Base rate is the rate below which the bank cannot lend, and spread is the margin based on customer- and product-specific factors. In the case of SBI, for instance, while the existing borrowers will pay 10.5% interest, of which 10% is the base rate and 0.5% is the spread, new borrowers will end up paying only 0.25% as spread, or 10.25% as interest rate.
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