Newstalk: Pat Kenny Show on variable rates

We were asked to speak with Pat Kenny today about variable rates and the government plan to intervene to make banks drop them. This was, after considering various pieces of evidence shown to be a deeply political rather than pragmatic move. We also demonstrated that there are documents which the Minister for Finance had drafted up with the banks specifically stating that he would not intervene on matters of pricing, the recent round of ‘meetings’ is in direct contravention of that.

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RTE Radio 1: Talking Money with Karl Deeter & Jill Kerby

On talking Money on the 24th of November we looked at the issue of mortgage arrears and the role of the Insolvency Service in terms of finding ways to get solutions with guaranteed end dates. There is a mismatch between the goal of banks and borrowers and it is resulting in solutions that often don’t work.

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Primetime: excessive interest rates

Last night’s Primetime had a well thought out piece on variable interest rates.

The general thesis was that variable rates are ‘too high’ and that banks should not be allowed to charge them, the figure of 1% of a ‘cost of funds’ was mentioned several times and various suggestions were made as to making the banks stop the practice of setting their own prices.

To begin with, the ‘cost of funds’ at 1% may be what a bank buys their raw materials at, but then you have to make more on top of it to allow for operational costs, to provide for losses, regulatory burdens, margin and the like. It is worth noting that in AIB’s interim statement which was only made yesterday that they noted that “Net Interest Margin (NIM), excluding ELG, expanded to c.1.64% year to date (YTD) September 2014”.

This means the idea of 4.5% minus the 1% ‘cost’ equating to a 3.5% ‘profit’ doesn’t stack up. If it did the net interest margin …

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AIB ‘Portable Trackers’ what does it mean?

AIB (who encompass EBS and Haven) have announced that their existing tracker customers can ‘keep their tracker’ if they move. The update from the broker arm of the bank Haven said this was confirmed only for existing Haven customers and that AIB would release their update towards the end of July but the news in the papers says otherwise.

What does this mean?

Firstly it is limited to the customers of the state owned bank, it is also more generous than competitors have offered which gives AIB the unusual accolade of being the bank who (at least it is perceived) write off debt faster, concede to government calls for lower rates and ensure they keep a legacy tracker book for longer than expected.

Why do they do it?

Existing customers have to dispose of one property and buy another, so it’s a way of getting ‘new lending’ buy doing so by giving it to tried and tested customers, a proven track record is a better indication of loan repayment capacity than almost any …

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Devil in the detail in debt write downs

(this article appeared in the Sunday Business Post on the 23rd of March)

The banks are starting to write down debt. Should we be surprised? Recent news of large write downs on home loans by AIB has left out some of the necessary detail to add context to the story. The lender has equally shied away from confirmation of what happened, making it all a bit opaque.

Why would a bank choose to offer a capital reduction by writing off part of a mortgage? An alternative is to split the loan into a part which the customer can afford to pay and another part which is ”warehoused. If zero interest is charged on the warehoused part, then the affordability for the customer can be the same as if this part is written down, even if the psychological impact is different.

It is likely that there are peculiarities in the cases where debt has been written down, which means this will only happen in the minority of cases. For example, if a loan was on a one off house with a …

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Could the new AIB split mortgage be illegal?

In the Sunday Business Post yesterday an article appeared which explained the new AIB split mortgage deal. We sought details of this from AIB but only scant ones were provided which we posted already.

How it works in money terms was not disclosed by AIB but they equally didn’t retract any statements showing up in the press so we can assume that the information published is correct as they haven’t publicly retracted any aspect of how it has been covered. For that reason there was an aspect to this which we see as being of grave concern.

However, if Mary and Tom get a pension lump sum at retirement, they must use this towards paying down tranche B. This only applies to pension lump sums and doesn’t apply to any other lump sums a person may receive e.g. inheritance, bonus payments, gifts, lotto win etc. On this matter it is always advisable to seek professional pension advice.

Read the highlighted parts again, ‘they must use’ the lump sum …

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Details of the new AIB debt write-down scheme

The information available at present is limited and the only thing we were able to obtain in terms of hard fact is that people on trackers won’t lose their tracker in this process.

Background info:   This is a variant of our split product and it can provide for upfront partial compromise of principle debt and a right sizing of the loan. It will contain features that incentivise and reward repayment of the loan B in advance of maturity.  It will also provide an opportunity for the customer to earn a ‘reward’ in the form of principle debt reduction if they keep to the terms of their A loan.     There is security of tenure built in as a feature for as soon as the borrower lives in the property.   Key details:     This is not a self-selected product. It will suit a certain, limited cohort of borrowers for which standard forbearance does not work. If standard forbearance works it will not be offered.  This split represents a final attempt to keep people in their homes where there is …

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Don’t be late! Banks announcing cut off dates for mortgage cheques

Every year Santa brings a few unlucky kids some coal, the banks have a similar deal for people who are late with their paperwork and it’s called a ‘cut off date’.

This means that irrespective of what you do, you won’t be able to get a mortgage cheque if you submit paperwork after a certain date (we’ll list them as they come in). The problem for some people is that they might be reliant on closing in 2013 in order to get a legal property tax avoidance for owner occupiers so if you are going to try to draw down in December do yourself a favour and get everything sorted out ASAP.

And also remember, by ‘documents in’ that means ‘on the system’ and from the time a document arrives to when it gets scanned up can take a few days depending on the institution.

Cut off dates announced thus far:

BOI and ICS: Tuesday 17th

KBC: Friday 20th

(edit: 28/11/13 10:51am)

AIB/Haven: Monday 16th

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AIB experiment proving there are no answers (at least no easy answers)

Something that was disclosed to me in an interview with Brendan O’Connor, AIB’s Head of Financial Solutions Group (they side of the company that deals with fixing debt problems and arrears) was that they have tried different things to see if it could fix arrears. I’ll outline a recent experiment they did.

This one involved sending letters out to 1,400 borrowers who were both in arrears greater than 6 months and who were not engaging with the bank. This was effectively a ‘best guess’ experiment where the bank would have had some level of insight into the borrowers accounts.

The bank sent out 1,400 letters to the borrowers offering split mortgages or longer term forbearance solutions.

Only 700 replied, so about 50% responded, 50% didn’t write back or acknowledge the letter or answer follow up calls.

Of the 700 respondents it turned out that less than 20 needed long term solutions to make their mortgage manageable. This is less than 1.5% of the original sample group and about 3% of the respondents.

What does this prove? It proves that even …

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