Islamic Mortgages in 2013

Islamic mortgages are claimed by a number of Islamic banks as a more ethical, less-risky proposition for home purchases. Common forms of Islamic mortgages include ijara, in which a homebuyer pays rent until they purchase the property outright by a given period, and diminishing musharaka, which is an equity partnership where the homebuyer and mortgage-provider share ownership of the property until it is bought back in monthly instalments. Proponents say this leasing back form prevents the sort of debt spiral that plunged the global economies into recession.

But Islamic mortgages in the UK are facing challenges. Global banking titan HSBC was the main provider of UK Islamic mortgages through its Amanah arm. The bank, however, shuttered its Islamic bank in the UK as part of a global restructuring. Research firm Data Monitor estimates that HSBC Amanah accounted for 60 per cent of UK Islamic mortgages, leaving a vacuum in supply.

“Islamic banks in the UK are too small and they’re not operating on a level playing field when it comes to mortgage and other lending,” says Harris Irfan of Cordoba Capital. “They have FSA [Financial Services Authority] and Sharia regulations to contend with, and that does leave them at a disadvantage. But there’s a lack of awareness of how Islamic mortgages might offer an alternative way of getting home finance.”


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