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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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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Drop rates so banks can lend more…

In the ongoing variable rates pricing fracas there are many points being overlooked. The first is why our mortgage rates are higher than other European countries, but we should just ignore that – at least to stay popular.

We’ll say that the government/Central Bank pressure works and banks drop their rates, what next?

We might get around to the greater number of people under price pressure for housing (the renters), but that’s unlikely, instead we’ll inadvertently drive up house prices a little more by making credit more easily available.

Because the lower the variable rate the lower the stress test. Lower rates equals more credit, it’s a fact of life in lending.

You heard it here first. The lower variable rates go the more it frees up a persons lending capability. We have covered the way the Central Bank lending rules won’t work to the point of being annoying (and we weren’t alone, the ESRI and …

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Property Conference, Thursday 30th of April 2015

We’ll be one of the speakers at a property conference being held in UCD tomorrow which is expected to have about 700 attendees.

Our talk is titled ‘Mortgages, Property & why we can’t have nice things’. It’s a look at intertwined aspects of the financial and property markets as well as why some of these issues occur and will continue to occur.

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RTE Drivetime: ‘Talking Money’ on mortgage rates, 20th April 2015

On talking money we looked at mortgage rates, where they are, where they are headed and what the best choice might be for people who are trying to decide what is best for their personal situation.

It’s a tricky question, rates can and do go up and down, but we believe the long term trend is for rates to go lower, in fact, that trend has already been occurring and there isn’t anything that seems in a position to stop it from happening. This is good news for borrowers (not so good for deposit savers!).

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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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Can Noonan or Honohan actually do anything on variable rates? (no)

The calls to lower rates by opposition politicians such as Michael McGrath on Primetime this week is making daily headlines. Charlie Weston doing a cracking job as always bringing personal finance to the front of the paper has ensured it lead for the last two days.

This has gone from the line that ‘it’s not our place to set prices to the news broken by Martina Fitzgerald that ‘Noonan and Honohan are going to pow-wow about it’.

Don’t expect much. The official responses from both the Department of Finance and the Central Bank are below. Note in particular that Honohan makes the case for non-intervention very clear.

The email sent to both was the same:

Question: Is there any explicit power the Central Bank/Department of Finance has to compel banks to change or lower their standard variable rates? If there is can you indicate which part of any Act that the power to do …

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The ESRI and the Central Bank butt heads.

This headline appeared in the Indo today. We agree with the idea of a safer market, but also agree with the ESRI on this, that it was badly timed, inappropriate and will actually cause more problems than it fixes due to being badly timed.

We would agree, our submission on the subject was one of the few that articulated the problems, why the moves wouldn’t prevent boom-bust and gave empirical evidence supporting same. Meanwhile many others were falling over themselves to commend Patrick Honohan and the Central Bank for being such good regulators.

They may have insulated the banks, but it’s at the expense of a market that will not provide for all of the people that need housing, in doing this it also helps to encourage speculation as one by-product is higher yields which re-attract investors into a market.

The ESRI have articulated this better than we did, and we support their findings. Oddly, the person behind the statements was the best economist the Central …

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What is happening with fixed rates?

We have been asked a few times about fixed mortgage rates and why they are lower than standard variable rates at the moment.

This has been going on for a few months in the mortgage market and the reason is fairly simple, lending rates are going to drop over time.

The one year fixed rate has traditionally been one that is used to attract business to a bank or building society. They are often a loss leading rate and after availing of it the person goes onto a higher rate or another fixed rate so we have to strip them out.

But from the 2yr rate onwards you normally paid a premium over and above the standard variable rate. So what is happening?

Lower fixed rates mean that banks are going to capture a margin that is likely to decline in the near future. The Euro yield curve is below.

What you see is that it is negative (below zero) for many years into the future, in fact, it’s only hitting …

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