Smart Investor Malaysia


A Guide on Applying for A Housing Loan in Malaysia


“Your loan application has been rejected”

Getting this response to your mortgage loan may be daunting and make you feel like a lost cause but don’t give up hope! There are several ways to navigate the murky waters of mortgage loan application – here are some points to look into to maximise your odds of obtaining approval for future mortgage loan applications:

1. Check your debt service ratio

This is one of the preliminary checks for financial institutions, with your debt service ratio (DSR) used to determine whether you’re able to afford the loan repayments. If the DSR is within their threshold given a range of income, it passes one stage of the mortgage loan application.

The formula to calculate DSR is:

DSR = Total monthly liability commitments / total monthly nett income.

Monthly Nett income = Gross Income – total deductions (EPF, SOCSO, tax etc)

Monthly Commitments (new loan application amount + car loan + personal loan + credit cards + mortgage loan

Once the DSR has been determined, each bank will have their respective guidelines for the maximum allowable DSR threshold given a range of incomes.

It’s typically determined by income level, but it may also be affected by your net worth and even things as arbitrary as educational background, age and nature of employment and sector.

For example, some banks may recognise 100% of investment property rental income, and some may only consider 50% of the rental income.

The calculation may differ also when it comes to variable income earners and the nature of the job. For instance some banks may take 80% of the six-month average income of an insurance agent, while others may take only 60%.

2. Get your documents in order

Banks always look for a clear and complete set of documents for assessment. For any bank to process any mortgage or loan application, they require supporting documents including proof to validate your income sources and employment.

For a salaried employee, the banks would like to see that you contribute to EPF and your income taxes via your payslips and tax submissions.

For variable income earners, do keep a record of at least six months’ worth of income/payout statements and supporting transactions into your bank account(s).

For the self-employed or business owners, ensure that your business documentation and accounting of bank balances are up to date as this will assist the loan officer to get any loans approved. In most cases, the bank would like to see a business with at least two to three years of operations supported by audited profit and loss and bank statement transactions to evaluate the ability to service the loan.

3. Don’t apply for loans immediately

If you are a fresh graduate looking to submit a bank loan application, don’t apply immediately for a mortgage or credit facility once you receive your first payslip.

While it may be tempting to get on the credit ladder, banks typically want to see a minimum of three to six months of permanent employment supported by your salary payslip, along with EPF and tax deductions (if applicable). 

In the case of the self-employed or commission earners, banks look for stability in income and usually need to see a minimum of six months of payments to be certain that you can service the loan.

4. Don’t go bankrupt!

It goes without saying but if you are declared bankrupt, you won’t be able to secure any loans or credit facilities with any financial institution. Your status of bankruptcy can be obtained by checking the Malaysian Department of Insolvency (MDI) or searching on CTOS.

5. Issuing bad cheques

If cheques that you issue bounce back three times, this is a huge red flag. A bad cheque is commonly referred to as a bounced cheque, and refers to a cheque issued by an account holder, dishonoured and returned by the drawee bank when it is issued from an account with insufficient balances or a blacklisted account under the Credit Bureau by Bank Negara Malaysia. 

Banks usually view this as a precautionary signal and will reject the mortgage loan application and other pending loan applications.

6. Maintain a good credit score

Maintaining a good record and positive status in CCRIS and CTOS is essential. Banks use CCRIS and CTOS as a reference to evaluate credit pattern behaviours and adverse reporting that will illustrate credit payment ability and servicing financial commitments.

The Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS) is a system created by Bank Negara Malaysia that maintains the repayment track record for the last 12 months of all credit facilities of participating financial institutions in Malaysia.

Any late payment or prolonged late payments of over six months will be flagged as a “Special Attention “ account in CCRIS. This indicates a red flag for banks.

CTOS is a privately-owned credit reporting agency that provides credit reporting and also has access to information such as bankruptcy, legal action and case statuses, individual’s business ownerships, shareholding and directorships.

They can also retrieve information from utility and telecommunication companies if you have outstanding bills (even if it’s only RM50!) and which can be a cause for banks to reject your loan application!

7. Ensure your quantitative elements are solid

In this day and age, every bank has its own algorithm and software to calculate an individual’s score. This can be a subjective matter as software calculates the scoring according to quantitative and qualitative elements, which may not be the same as the algorithm and systems used by other banks.

The quantitative elements include DSR calculation, the net worth of an individual or profit and loss of a company and also refers to CCRIS records. Qualitative elements include factors such as age and educational background.

Your score will differ across each bank as they use different algorithms and systems. As a mortgage loan applicant, you can improve your profile by ensuring the quantitative aspects are covered and within their requirements.

8. Not having any credit history

A poor credit score is not the only reason lenders reject mortgage loan applications. Having no credit history makes banks uncertain of your ability to pay.

It’s advisable to build up a clean credit history, and it’s normally best to start this by applying for a credit card application or taking up a small loan. 

With a smaller credit card facility or loan (that is consistently paid!), this may create a higher approval rate for your mortgage loan in the future because the perceived chances of defaulting on payment are lower.

9. Late payment of instalments

A poor track record of loan repayments gives a bad impression to potential lenders and might impact your future application. So try your best not to be late and settle your credit card bills, car loan instalments and other commitments on time.

One way to do this is to set a payment reminder on your calendar or other forms of reminders on your mobile devices.

10. Bank risk appetite

Lastly, it is important to note that all banks have different risk appetites. There are instances where a bank has their own non-preferred segments; this could include people working in a niche industry, not meeting the minimum age, or not having a strong educational background requirement.

You may get rejected for holding too many credit cards and you may also get rejected for not holding any credit card. In addition, a rejection could also be due to the mortgage financing not being within their particular area, developer, property type or market segment.

Treat applying for any mortgage or loan like you’re going for a job interview. With a little financial planning help in money management, preparation of supporting documents and maintaining a clean profile in CCRIS and CTOS you stand a better chance of getting your mortgage loan approved by the right bank.

About the Author

Rozanna Rashid is a Licensed Financial Planner (CFP, IFP) that has an MSc in Real Estate Economics & Finance from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Her background is in corporate banking and Islamic finance and she can be contacted at

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