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Thai eases housing loan rules to help home buyers

* Allows buyers of 1st homes to borrow more, make less downpayment

* Allows buyers of 2nd homes to make smaller downpayment

* Says household debt high, will not fall this year (Adds detail, quote)

By Orathai Sriring and Kitiphong Thaichareon

BANGKOK, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Thailand’s central bank has further relaxed mortgage lending rules to help home buyers, a deputy governor said on Monday, after tighter rules were imposed last year to rein in bad debt.

Under the changes, effective on Monday, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) will allow buyers of first homes worth less than 10 million baht ($329,489) to borrow an extra 10% for furniture, Ronadol Numnonda told a news conference.

Buyers of first homes worth 10 million baht or more can now make a minimum downpayment of 10%, versus 20% earlier, he said.

“The adjustments will support people to have their first houses more easily,” he said. “At the same time, the rules will help curb speculation,” he added.

The BOT will also let buyers of second houses worth less than 10 million baht make a minimum downpayment of 10% if the mortgage on the first home has been paid off for at least two years. That compared with three years previously, or else buyers had to put down a 20% downpayment.

In April, the BOT imposed stricter housing loan regulations on concerns about household debt and rising bad mortgages following looser bank lending.

It later relaxed some of the rules in August to help affected borrowers.

Thailand’s household debt levels are high and will not drop this year, BOT director Sakkapop Panyanukul told reporters.

The country’s household debt was equivalent to 79.1% of gross domestic product at the end of September, among the highest in Asia. ($1 = 30.35 baht) ( Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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