Is a ten year fixed rate a good idea?

Recently KBC introduced a 10 year fixed rate, they are not the first back to have done this, in the past other banks had them but their prices were high, the difference today is that you can get a 10 year fixed rate mortgage for below 3% and that means it’s worth considering.

First of all, why would you want to fix for so long? Obviously the longevity of a guaranteed price in a world where rates are expected to rise over time makes it attractive. This has to be balanced against the likelihood of competitive forces driving down Irish mortgage rates. Currently there is upside down pricing where fixed rates are cheaper than variable rates, how long this will last is anybody’s guess.

What we can do is look at the yield curve in order to get an idea of when rates might go up. Looking at that curve today (the quote date is from the 22nd which is last Friday) we see that yields are still negative a full six years into the future.  What …

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Cash back deals: are banks manipulating borrowers?

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) warned lenders last month about their use of cashback deals and loyalty discounts. The commission believes that such incentives may be detrimental to consumers and may reflect unhealthy competition in the mortgage market.

 

Cash back deals have become more and more common in the market in recent years. These deals work by giving borrowers a certain percentage of their total mortgage amount back at the start of their loan, and they mostly target first time buyers who may need the extra money on hand to furnish their homes or to tide them through a tough transitional time in life.

 

A quick look around the market reveals that major lenders, such as AIB, Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland, EBS and KBC, all have similar cash back deals, mostly ranging from 2-3% or €1500-€2000. The catch on these loans however, is that interest rates on them are often higher than the average on traditional loans. This means that over the term of the loan, extra interest paid  may turn out to be much …

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Help-to-buy incentive under scrutiny

This past Sunday, current Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said on RTE’s The Week in Politics that the Help-to-Buy initiative introduced by his predecessor is currently under review. Since its introduction in January under former Finance Minister Michael Noonan and former Housing Minister Simon Coveney, the Help-to-Buy initiative has already received nearly 7,000 applicants and has successfully helped a great percentage of them with the purchase or building of their first home. However, the initiative has recently come under fire for exacerbating the problems it intended to solve, and there is speculation that it may be dissolved.

 

The purpose of the Help-to-Buy incentive was to encourage first buyers to enter the market by helping applicants with their deposit through the refund of applicants’ income tax and DIRT other the past 4 years. It applies to first time buyers who either purchase or build new residential properties, and allows them to receive 5% of the purchase price of their new home, with an upward limit of €20,000. It is hoped that the incentive would help more people climb the property ladder, …

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Two identical first time buyers walk into a bar, one qualifies, the other doesn’t

The Central Bank rules on curtailing mortgage lending have had an interesting effect, first is that we are seeing more loans draw down that might not have because people are bringing forward consumption due to the fact they won’t qualify for the same amount again in the future. This is literally the opposite of the intended effect.

Second is that it’s causing chaos for prospective buyers who may hold an exemption or need an exemption because there are quarterly reporting rules that mean banks can’t offer a new loan until they know if an old one will be drawn or become an NTU (not taken up).

Perhaps the easiest thing to do is explain it, currently you can’t get an exemption from Ulsterbank or AIB/EBS/Haven or BOI, but you can from PTsb and KBC. The banks that can’t give you one (and remember it’s only one of LTV or LTI not both) are hogtied because they have given the limit of exemptions (c. 15%-20% of lending) already in loan offers and they have to estimate both the annual and quarterly …

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Talking Money – Switch your mortgage to save

This week on ‘Talking Money’ Karl Deeter and Jill Kerby were discussing ‘switching’ with Cormac on RTE’s Drivetime. It was coincidental that many of the points we made were reinforced by the Central Bank findings this week on mortgage switching on points such as assertive customer behaviour being important and not allowing inertia to hold people back.

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The sums behind ‘taxing’ the banks into a rate cut

Yesterday we were on the Sean O’Rourke show discussing variable rates on RTE Radio. We mentioned how doubling the ‘tax’ on banks won’t actually change anything. The mechanisms were briefly covered and we got a few emails asking for clarification so here it is.

The ‘levy’ was part of the Finance Act 2014 which imposed a new annual levy on financial institutions aiming to raise €150 million per annum for 3 years.

This sum is payable on October the 20th in each year (2014-2016) and it applies to a financial institution that is the holder of an Irish (or equivalent EU) banking licence or is an Irish (or equiv EU) building society that was obliged to pay DIRT – unless the amount required to pay in 2011 was not more than 100k.

The main outcry is centred on variable rates for primary home dwellers in particular. So how much of that debt is out there?

We know there are about 300,000 ‘loans’ but the quantum of debt is €39.638m which is about €3bn …

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Mortgage rates set to drop and competition to increase in 2015

We have commented several times since last year that the trend for mortgage rates in 2015 will be to see them drop. With spreads of c. 300bp’s on lending it makes it one of the reliably profitable sectors of banking given the stringent underwriting being applied.

With the Central Bank looking to curtail first time buyers but doing nothing about incumbent borrowers getting restricted it means that they have directed the market towards refinancing.

This is because one of the niches left on the table is that of existing variable rate holders, which banks will now try to tempt away from one another in an effort to grow market share.

There are many who cannot take part and below is a list of the mortgage holders who won’t benefit.

Those in negative equity, they are going to be stuck when it comes to refinance, they can trade up with a negative equity mortgage but they won’t be able to ‘switch’. Those on fixed rates which accounts for in the region of 50,000 mortgage accounts, they face break penalties, and only …

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KBC launch a ‘quick approval’ process

For a while we have seen competition starting to heat up a little in the mortgage market. Several moves recently have started to demonstrate this further, Bank of Ireland have their ‘pay you to borrow from us’ campaign, KBC had a ‘pay you to switch’ along with rates that beat everybody else.

Now they (KBC) have launched a quick approval process which aims to cut down the time it takes to get approved which at it’s worst was taking up to four weeks with some banks. This is only for an approval in principle, which isn’t worth much (not like a loan offer is) but it is the first step in the mortgage process in terms of getting meaningful feedback from a lender.

They have a first time buyer 1yr fixed rate of 3.5%, short term fixed rates are where banks tend to go to attract business as the first year costs are what many buyers are fixated on rightly or wrongly.

There is one bank rumoured to be considering a return to brokerage, another who shut operations considering re-opening …

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KBC reactivate the switching market

There has been an absence of competition in the switching market for some time. AIB don’t even do them while others try to avoid switcher loans. PTsb have been in that space for some time but were largely unchallenged except by (to a lesser extent) Ulsterbank.

Which is why it’s nice to see KBC come out with a product for people who want to switch to them. Naturally the best prices are at low loan to values, these types of loans have obvious advantages to banks in terms of the condition of their loan book, but it’s good to see this as moderating credit conditions have to start somewhere.

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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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