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Renovation, Top-Up And Refinancing Loans Explained

BY Team Loanstreet

Updated 29 Apr 2022

Home refinancing is generally the cheapest form of financing available to home owners. But the term “refinancing” has been used quite loosely in sales and marketing speak, leading to certain misconceptions as to what it really is. This article explains what “refinancing” is in the true sense of the word, and discusses related products such as Renovation Loans and Top-Up Loans.


What's covered in this article?

Mortgage Refinance

Mortgage refinancing is the rearrangement of a previous loan to a new loan with different features, including new maturity dates, interest rates or monthly payments. Where there is no existing mortgage loan, refinancing can also mean re-mortgaging of a property that is free of encumbrances.

Example Of Cash Out Refinancing:

Mr. Charlie bought a RM300k condo with a loan of RM270k from Bank A 12 years ago. The outstanding loan today is RM200k.

Loan amount: RM270k
Outstanding loan at 2014: RM200k  
Tenure: 30 years  (till 2032)
Interest rate: 4.4%
Monthly instalment: RM1,352                                                                                                                                                                  

He applies to refinance at Bank B. The current market value of the condo stands at RM500k. Bank B then loans him a percentage of RM300k (market value-outstanding loan). 

Bank B agrees to lend 90% of market value less outstanding loan (i.e. [90% x 500k] – 200k) after assessing Mr. Charlie credibility. Mr. Charlie will now have RM250k to cash out.

The new arrangement of the loan will be as follows:

Outstanding loan: RM200k
Tenure: 30 years (Till 2044)
Interest rate: 4.4%
Monthly instalment: RM1,002

Refinance cash out amount: RM250k
Tenure: 10 years (Till 2024)
Interest rate: 4.4%
Monthly instalment: RM2,579

Total Refinance Amount: RM450k (RM200k + RM 250k)
Total Monthly Instalment: RM3,581 (RM1, 002 + RM 2,579)

The advantage of refinancing is that you are free to choose any bank that can provide the best housing loan

On the downside, because to refinance is to undertake a new loan, all the standard entry costs of getting a home loan application. These include legal fees and stamp duties. If there is an existing home loan, there will be additional redemption charges for the existing loan. Early termination penalties may also apply. Make use of Loanstreet’s Home Loan Calculator to calculate your entry costs of refinancing.

If you are considering refinancing your home, we highly recommend you read our refinancing tips used by experts to avoid the mistakes commonly made by newbies. 

Top Up Loans

A top-Up loan is an additional loan on top of the previous loan amount based on the appreciated market value of the borrower’s collateral. It is suitable for borrowers who demand immediate cash-out. The Top-up loan amount can be banked into a separate account with 2 interest rate or in the previous loan account with a new single interest rate depends on the banks’ policy. In terms of the loan agreement, some banks will redraw a new loan agreement for the top-up amount while some will up stamp the previous agreement instead.

Example of Top-up Loan for Cash Out:

Mr Beta bought a condo 9 years ago with an RM120k loan from Bank Y.

Loan Amount: RM120k
Outstanding loan at 2014: RM100k
Tenure: 30 years
Interest rate: 4.5%
Monthly instalment: RM608

Mr Beta then applies for a top-up loan.

Market value: RM250k  

Bank Y grants him an 80% of market value less outstanding loan amount (i.e. [80% x 250K] – 100K) after taking his Debt Servicing Ratio and other factors into account. The new numbers are as follows.

Top-up loan amount: RM100k
Tenure: 25 years
Interest rate: 4.8%
Monthly instalment: RM573

Hence, Mr Beta's total monthly instalment will add up to RM1,181 (RM608 + RM573)

It goes without saying that a top-up loan can only be done with the existing financier. But the advantage is that existing loan documents only need to be up-stamped, compared to redrawn from scratch in the case of refinancing. As such, the entry costs are much cheaper. Additionally, early termination penalties will not be invoked by the current financier.

Renovation Loans

A renovation loan is a type of personal loan specifically designed for renovation purposes. It is usually bundled with a home loan and is sold as a package. Banks may offer a better interest rate for home loans when a renovation loan is taken as part of the package. As proof of renovation, documents such as invoices need to be provided. Collateral is not needed for renovation loans.

Loan documentation for renovation loans is relatively simple. As a result, the entry costs are cheap and funds are released the quickest.

Just like other personal loans, most renovation loans are calculated using a flat interest rate. However, a notable exception is Alliance Bank’s Home Complete Renovation Loan where the interest is calculated using the reducing balance method.

Example Of How Renovation Loans Work:

Let take Mr Alpha as an example, Mr. Alpha has bought a sub-sale property with an RM600k loan from Bank X.

Loan Amount: RM600k
Tenure: 30 years
Interest rate: 4.6%
Monthly instalment: RM3,706

After assessing Mr Alpha credibility, Bank X decides to loan Mr Alpho a sum of RM150k.

Renovation loan amount: RM150k
Tenure: 10 years
Interest rate: 7.6% (Flat rate)
Monthly instalment: RM2,200

Hence, Mr Alpha will have to pay a monthly instalment of RM5,276 (RM3,076 + RM 2,200) in total to service two loans

* Learn more about personal loan features


The choice between refinancing, taking a top-up loan, or a renovation loan will depend on your needs. This table summarizes the differences between them:

But regardless of your choice, take note that for cash out portions, banks will stress test your repayment ability based on a 10-year repayment tenure due to Bank Negara's 10 year limit on refinancing guideline.

Finally, if you are looking to refinance, we strongly recommend that you read this guide for refinancing and make use of Loanstreet’s Home Loan Refinancing Comparison tool to find the best match for your needs. 

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About the Author

Team Loanstreet

Run by a professional human-sized team, get resourceful tips & guides from our very own library of financial articles that can help improve your financial lifestyle & make a well-informed money decision. We strive to provide you with the best service in helping you to get the most out of that DUIT!


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