About 450,000 homeowners who are enjoying low-interest mortgage loans may defer plans to move to bigger flats now that it appears Hong Kong's eight-year 'negative mortgage rate' regime will end next year, said Midland Realty Holdings.

The property agent's mortgage brokerage firm, mReferral, said the deepening financial crisis had prompted banks to increase mortgage lending rates since September.

To control credit risk, banks had raised the home loan rate from 3 percentage points below prime early this year to the current 1 percentage point below prime, said Sharmaine Lau, the chief economic analyst at mReferral.

South China Morning Post