Saudi Home Loans Board Member Sheikh Abdullatif Al Shelash Talks Where the Brand Is Heading

Sheikh Abdullatif Al Shelash has been involved with Saudi Home Loans since its inception in 2007. In the ensuing years, the company has expanded to become not only a pioneer in Saudi’s budding mortgage industry, but an award-winning front-runner, receiving the accolade of Best Real Estate Finance Company in Saudi Arabia at the Arabian Enterprise Awards. And neither Al Shelash nor his company show any signs of slowing down.

With more than 18 years in financial management, Saudi Home Loans board member Abdullatif Al Shelash says he’s had a front-row seat to mortgages becoming a part of Saudi life and it’s something that’s become very meaningful to him.

“[Saudi Home Loans] can give you a mortgage over 15, 20, or 25 years, and you can actually go and live in your home today,” Sheikh Abdullatif Al Shelash says. “This was [among] the first companies to promote home finance. So this changed the concept and the minds of people [now thinking]: ‘I don’t need to wait.’”

And now lending terms are even more favorable to Saudi home buyers.

Thanks to The Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company (SRC) — the Saudi equivalent of the U.S. mortgage finance business Fannie Mae — changing the parameters on mortgage borrowing time, mortgages in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have been stretched from 25 years to 30 years, allowing borrowers more flexibility with payment amounts.

Saudi Home Loans Eyes Future of Saudi Financing Industry

​​”SRC will further support the development of a robust mortgage market in the Kingdom, providing longer-term liquidity to primary originators,” SRC said in a statement published on reuters.com.

Al Shelash says this will contribute to the opportunity for more financing options than ever before for Saudis purchasing homes.

In 2021, Saudi Home Loans had a 25% increase in sales compared to the previous year. Abdullatif Al Shelash says the company’s commitment to customer service is a cornerstone to its success.

“It has become one of the leading companies in the field of Islamic funding for meeting the basic housing needs of clients in the Saudi market, as well as providing them with the most appropriate solution to finance their dream houses in compliance with the Islamic Sharia, as the Sharia supervisory board ensures that all products and services comply with the provisions and rules of the Islamic Sharia,” a 2021 annual board members report states.

Al Arabiya news reports that home ownership in Saudi Arabia is slated to rise to 70% within the next eight years. A mortgage holder himself, Sheikh Abdullatif Al Shelash shares that he understands firsthand the financial benefits of having a mortgage.

Abdullatif Al Shelash says in Saudi Arabia, he originally leased a home and waited to see where the market was headed before buying houses for his family.

“We moved it three times. Every home I bought, I bought it as a mortgage,” he explains. “I think my cash will be much better utilized somewhere else instead of really just putting it as equity in the house. Every home I bought has appreciated between 40% to 80%.”

The financial expert insists it’s a better use for one’s cash and he encourages others in Saudi Arabia to take the mortgage route.

“There’s going to be more appreciation,” says Al Shelash. “The houses that you purchased in 2005 for 800,000 [approximately $213,333] Saudi riyals right now are valued at 3 million Saudi riyals. So they have made a tremendous wealth [gain], and they only paid 80,000 [down payment] and started paying monthly mortgage installments. And they took the cash or the equity they used to have and put it in land that had appreciated almost to 2.5 million.”

Sheikh Abdullatif Al Shelash says the culture surrounding mortgages in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also significantly shifted. While it was once forbidden to mortgage a home in Saudi Arabia, that all changed when it became legal to do so in 2012.

And while once upon a time, newlyweds had to live with their parents for years until they saved up enough money to buy a piece of land outright, mortgages have now given young couples more freedom. “Cash flow management is the key,” Al Shelash says. “This changed the concept and the minds of people that, ‘I don’t need to wait.’ This helped so many people to have their first home, get married, or some of them [were] married people who were actually living with their parents to move into new homes.”

In addition to reshaping the way Saudis pay for their residences, Al Shelash says Saudi Home Loans offers a variety of services to assist its clients with fixed or flexible monthly payment options, financing, and self-financing options. Saudihomeloans.com also offers a finance calculator to determine which loan options would be the best options for a potential homeowner.

And it appears that those currently renting would like to get in on the mortgage action. Knightfrank.com says 60% of people who are renting would prefer to purchase a property.

Sheikh Abdullatif Al Shelash Explains How Saudi Home Loans Reshaped Road to Saudi Home Ownership

“Many people could not afford to think of buying a house to live in the city; they were living in the suburbs. So they moved into the city because of that ability of home loans and mortgages,” Abdullatif Al Shelash says. “We don’t have NINJA [no income, no job, no assets] loans, but it’s very much like the U.S.”

Abdullatif Al Shelash says Saudi Home Loans also helped urbanize the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with home ownership now at around 60% and only slated to soar from there.

“[Saudi Home Loans] was among the first bank and finance companies that was also providing a complete solution,” he says. “Previously, most Saudi people tend to think that buying a house and taking a mortgage of 20 years is a big burden.”

Al Shelash says that’s no longer the case and that Saud Home Loans has left a lasting impact on Saudi’s homeownership trends and real estate industry

“It’s been really leading the market and doing innovative products and also serving its customers and all of that,” Abdullatif Al Shelash says. “But it helped in the beginning in encouraging investors that yes, [the] mortgage business is a viable business, feasible in Saudi.”

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