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Understanding the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) in Malaysia and Its Impact on Real Estate and Housing Loans

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Understand the impact of Malaysia's Overnight Policy Rate on housing loans and the real estate market. Learn how OPR changes affect financial decisions.

In 2023, the financial landscape in Malaysia underwent a significant shift when Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the country's central bank, increased the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) to 3%. The OPR, a pivotal benchmark for interest rates, influences everything from savings to loans and, ultimately, the overall economy. This blog post will delve into what the OPR is, how it impacts Islamic and conventional housing loans, and the implications for the real estate market in Malaysia.

What is the OPR?

The OPR is the interest rate at which banks lend to each other in the overnight market. It is a tool used by BNM to manage monetary policy. As of 3rd May 2023, the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) in Malaysia stands at 3.00%​. The Standardised Base Rate (SBR) for both Conventional & Islamic is 3.00% p.a. as of 9th May 2023​. Changes in the OPR affect the Base Lending Rate (BLR) and the Base Financing Rate (BFR), interest rates that banks use as a reference for products like housing loans.

How Does OPR Affect Islamic Loans?

Islamic loans, while often misunderstood, are indeed impacted by changes in the OPR. OPR plays a crucial role in the calculation of Islamic loans, specifically those tied to the Base Financing Rate (BFR). As the OPR changes, so does the BFR. For instance, if the BFR for a loan is initially at 6.60%, a rise of 0.25% in the OPR could push the BFR to 6.85%. This increase in BFR implies that the overall cost of the loan becomes higher due to the augmented profit rate, which directly affects the borrower's monthly repayments.

Implications of OPR Increase

An increase in the OPR can be both beneficial and detrimental, depending on the economic outlook and an individual's financial situation. The most noticeable impact is on bank borrowing costs, which rise when the OPR increases. If the economy is growing slowly, OPRs are adjusted downwards to reduce interest rates, thus encouraging spending and investment. Conversely, if the economy grows faster, the OPR will be revised upward, making borrowing costlier and helping avoid inflation.

Slow Economy Growth.jpg

Changes in the OPR are not arbitrary; they are based on careful observation and analysis of key economic indicators such as inflation rates, GDP growth rates, and unemployment rates. Economists and financial analysts monitor these indicators closely to anticipate potential OPR adjustments by BNM. Awareness of these changes is crucial as they influence the financial planning strategies of individuals and businesses, including decisions on when to save, invest, or borrow.

The Implications of OPR Increases on Existing Loans

An OPR increase directly impacts those with existing loans, especially if the loans have a variable interest rate policy. In such cases, the monthly instalment payments will increase, reflecting the higher interest rate. For instance, a housing loan with a variable interest rate may result in larger monthly payments after an OPR increase. Consequently, this can limit an individual's ability to maintain an existing house loan or make new purchases, such as a car.

Impact on Housing Loans

The OPR plays a critical role when it comes to housing loans. As the OPR increases, so do the interest rates on variable or floating-rate housing loans, leading to higher monthly repayments. For instance, a 0.25% hike in OPR would see a loan with a BLR of 6.60% rise to 6.85%. Should the old monthly repayment amount be maintained, the repayment period will become longer due to the interest rate increase

Calculation Formulas Involving OPR and Loans

The calculation for changes in loan instalments following an OPR change involves various factors, including the principal loan amount, interest rate, and loan tenure. Here is an example of how to calculate this:

Let's assume a housing loan of RM 500,000 at an interest rate of 4.60% with a tenure of 30 years. If the OPR increases by 0.25%, the interest rate becomes 4.85%. As a result, the monthly instalment would increase by RM 81.

To calculate the new repayment, you would use the formula for calculating monthly instalments on a loan:

Instalment = [Pr(1+r)^n] / [(1+r)^n – 1]


P is the principal amount (RM500,000 in this case)

r is the monthly interest rate (4.75%/12 in this case)

n is the number of instalments (the number of months in your loan tenure)

This formula will give you the new monthly instalment after the OPR change. Understanding these calculations and implications of OPR changes can help borrowers make informed decisions about their loans and potential investments.

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The Impact of OPR on Real Estate in Malaysia

Higher interest rates, guided by the OPR, can manage consumer spending habits and curtail inflation. They encourage saving, which injects more capital into the economy. However, when borrowing costs increase, people are less inclined to take out loans for major purchases like homes. This results in slower growth in the real estate sector, as people may postpone buying property due to higher loan repayment costs.

Despite the rise in the OPR, the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Malaysia maintains that the Malaysian property market remains robust. Its president, Datuk NK Tong, noted a potential tailwind amidst the OPR increase. The correlation between the OPR and the property market can often be complex and dependent on various economic factors. However, it's clear that changes in the OPR can influence property financing rates, and subsequently, buyer sentiment.

The recent 25 basis point increase of the OPR in 2023 to 3.0% has profound implications for property developers and buyers. From a developer's perspective, higher borrowing costs for construction and development loans may result in increased property prices. For buyers, particularly those who fund their purchase with a mortgage, higher interest rates imply higher monthly repayments. 

Figure below is the median new OPR Level and median change in OPR through out the years (2004-2023).


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So, the recent moves by Bank Negara Malaysia with the OPR might shake up the interest rates on variable home loans. But hey, don't sweat! Not every change in monetary policy is out to empty your pockets!

Even though the OPR has seen a bit of a rise lately, it's still not too shabby for folks looking to get new home loans. Back in 2008, the OPR hit a whopping 3.5%! But even with that in mind, you can still lock down a deal at a pretty reasonable interest rate. It might not be rock bottom, but it's not too steep either.

With variable loans, you can expect changes pretty quick, unlike fixed-rate loans, which need a long stretch of lower interest rates before you see a big change.

So, if you're eyeing a variable loan, you're on the money. But if you're holding out for a fixed-rate loan, you'll be waiting a bit before changes really kick in. Sorry, fixed-rate fans.

Bottom line? This whole thing is pretty good news if you're on the hunt for a home loan with a wallet-friendly interest rate.

Pros and Cons of High Interest Rates

High interest rates, guided by the OPR, can manage consumer spending habits and curtail inflation. They encourage saving, which injects more capital into the economy. Furthermore, they attract foreign investment as higher returns entice foreign investors. However, high interest rates also have drawbacks. They make borrowing more expensive, which could discourage individuals and businesses from taking out loans for spending or investing. This change could result in a decrease in the aggregate demand in the economy and potentially lead to economic contraction.

Anticipating Future Changes in OPR

Given the crucial role the OPR plays in the economy, it's vital to stay informed about potential changes. Economists monitor indicators like inflation, GDP growth, and unemployment to predict whether BNM might adjust the OPR. Being aware of these factors can help individuals and businesses plan their financial activities, such as saving, investing, or borrowing.


The OPR is more than just a number that banks use to determine interest rates. It's a powerful tool for managing the economy and guiding consumer behaviour. Whether you're a homebuyer, homeowner, or real estate investor, understanding the OPR and its implications can help you make informed financial decisions.

Stay updated on changes in the OPR, consult with your financial advisor, or explore other related topics on our blog to make well-informed financial decisions.


Category: Loan