The Criteria Crunch

We have just been informed that one the lenders we deal with are only getting through applications received by the 4th of March, that is a near 20 day delay on new applications they are considering. Why the backlog? Has the market suddenly recovered? Are they being flooded?

No, rather it is a case that in banks nearly everybody has been enlisted to work in ‘collections’ and the staff were taken from every other department, in particular the ‘new business’ section. The bank we are talking about today merged their direct channel with brokerage so even going via a branch makes no difference, the whole company has only four working underwriters.

So inasmuch as the credit explosion saw too many resources being thrown at lending and the expansion of same, the crunch is doing the exact opposite by overshooting the mark in the reduction of resources. For a publicly quoted bank to be 20 days behind means that the market is facing yet another hurdle in reaching its rational level. Lending hasn’t frozen, people are …

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Banks ARE lending, just not freely or irresponsibly

I have read several articles in this week in our  national papers and in them the authors said ‘banks are not lending’ and in one it was implied that this was somehow wrong. A point of order must be raised, firstly, it’s not wrong and secondly they actually are lending, just not freely or irresponsibly.

The frustrating thing is that even after all of the fallout, all of the crashing property prices, all of the international crisis news, that so many people still don’t get it. Cheap credit and easy lending is what go us here to begin with, we won’t fix the Irish economy with more mortgages being freely available.

Lobbyists take note: While you might strong-arm or influence the Government (I don’t know which method lobbyists use but either way they are effective) into supplying money for mortgages via recapitalisation or Homechoiceloan or any other plan, the fact is that reasonable people will not sign up to it, they will buy when …

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Generic overview of the market 2009: by sector

I was asked by a colleague in the UK to provide an overview of the Irish mortgage market, he has often advised the Bank of England in the past on the UK buy to let market, however this time it is in relation to a talk he was due to give to an international financial services group on the Irish economy. Below are the contents of my correspondence which is a no holds barred view of the mortgage market in 2009.

Remortgage: This area is finally starting to see some life again, the rate drops are filtering through and many of the people on fixed rates taken out in 2005/2006/2007  are shopping around, as always new business attracts better rates than existing customers so there is once again an argument for switching.

However, the many people who took out trackers are basically out of the market in the long term as every single lender has removed tracker mortgages from the market, in fact, if you know of a lender willing …

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Approval in Principle, the flaws.

Our firm [and I am sure many brokerage firms] are witnessing a conundrum in the market which is causing both clients and the broker a huge amount of heartache. It is that of the ‘AIP’ or ‘Approval In Principle’ not being honoured by banks over short periods of time. One lender in particular [we can’t name names] is doing that on so many cases that we no longer consider their approvals as holding any relevance.

What is an approval in principle (A.I.P. is the broker-speak we use to describe them)? It generally means that you have given a bank enough information to make a strong [and yet preliminary] decision on a case, sometimes it is subject to further documentation, or they want to get a valuation report before making a full offer, in any case an AIP is NOT a loan offer but it is as strong an indication as one can get without dealing with solicitors, in the past an AIP was honoured almost exclusively and they were seen as fundamental to …

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Survival of the weakest, only in Ireland.

If the State can’t organise a bailout effectively then what hope have they of running a bank? A simple and yet profound question: if the bankers who run banks for a living (many having survived the 70’s and 80’s) can’t find the answers then what hope have the state who have no track record in doing so?

This is not a simple situation, banks that survived the Great Depression have crashed and burned, given this, is it vital to save every bank? Is a bank going to make it even with a slush fund? Thus far I remain unconvinced.

Anglo Irish Bank was set to get a bailout to the tune of 1.5 billion Euro. This couldn’t be arranged in time to save the bank and they have been nationalised, the speed of their fall from grace tells us at least some basic facts:

Anglo were not the strongest bank in the bunch, I won’t get into balance sheets, loans, impairments or anything else, the mere fact that they fell first …

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The ‘Crunch’ is nearly over, but what lies in its wake?

The Euribor 3 month money is at 2.822% which means the margin on interbank money is now at 0.322% (the current base rate is 2.5%) over the base. The Credit Crunch by definition is a sudden reduction in the general availability of loans (or credit) or a sudden tightening of the conditions required to obtain a loan from the banks. One of the biggest hallmarks of the whole financial crisis was the disjointed relationship of the Euribor from the ECB.

Traditionally the Euribor (we are talking about the 3 month money generally) trailed the ECB at c. 0.1 to 0.2%, so if the ECB base rate was 4% then the Euribor was (approximately) 4.13% or something like that. In July of 2007 this all changed and margins on interbank lending shot through the roof, to such an extent that literally thousands of loans in Ireland alone turned into negative …

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The 'Crunch' is nearly over, but what lies in its wake?

The Euribor 3 month money is at 2.822% which means the margin on interbank money is now at 0.322% (the current base rate is 2.5%) over the base. The Credit Crunch by definition is a sudden reduction in the general availability of loans (or credit) or a sudden tightening of the conditions required to obtain a loan from the banks. One of the biggest hallmarks of the whole financial crisis was the disjointed relationship of the Euribor from the ECB.

Traditionally the Euribor (we are talking about the 3 month money generally) trailed the ECB at c. 0.1 to 0.2%, so if the ECB base rate was 4% then the Euribor was (approximately) 4.13% or something like that. In July of 2007 this all changed and margins on interbank lending shot through the roof, to such an extent that literally thousands of loans in Ireland alone turned into negative …

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Will Specialist or Sub-Prime lenders be better off?

With the news coming out daily about prime lenders facing higher and higher impairment charges it begs the question of who will do better during a downturn, specialist/sub prime lenders or prime high street banks?

Banks stated that they feel impairments of up to 90 basis points were likely, some have revised this figure higher several times with NIB predicting impairment of upwards of 300 basis points. Sub-prime lenders on the other hand start off with predictions of high impairment and they price and gauge the risk accordingly from the outset. Given that starting point, could it be a case that Irish specialist lenders may come out the other side of the liquidity crisis with an overall book that fares proportionately on margins than other prime lenders?

To answer this question we must first consider margins, with many banks typical margin is from 1% to 1.5% on average, however, with many prime lenders this margin is  lower because of low margin trackers that were a point of heavy competition between …

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Less tax and simple bankruptcy could be the best solution

As we await what is being described as a ‘savage’ budget, it is important to remember some of the ideas being thrown about may appeal prima facie. One disappointing suggestion I heard today was a call for tax bands of 50% (this came from an economics professor too!). In this blog we have said for some time that there are only two solutions to the deficit, firstly taxes must go up, secondly we have to stop spending. However, there is a point at which higher taxation actually reduces the tax take (more on this later in the article)

One thing that we need, in light of what will likely be testing times is to consider the impact of tax changes and also the need for a simplified bankruptcy system. There are currently (so we hear) thousands of well to do ‘non-dom’s’ in the UK who are planning to leave because of changes to the tax system. Ireland is a small …

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Irish Mortgage Lenders, who provides mortgages in Ireland

This post is a brief account of the residential mortgage providers in the Irish mortgage market, a brief look at who they are and what kind of lending they are involved in. Many people have no idea who is who, or who owns who so this should help to clarify some of that. Of course, as a broker we can help guide you through the myriad of lenders and options, but even our expertise is not an adequate replacement

The list of lenders in residential mortgages are (in no particular order)

1. IIB Homeloans 2. Haven 3. PTsb 4. First Active 5. EBS 6. Irish Nationwide 7. ACC Bank 8. Bank of Ireland 9. Springboard 10. Start Mortgages 11. Nua Homeloans 12. GE Money 13. Leeds Building Society 14. Bank of Scotland 15. ICS 16. NIB 17. Ulsterbank 18. AIB

Who they are and what kind of lending do they do?

1. IIB Homeloans: This is ‘Irish Intercontinental Bank’ and they were once owned by Irish Life, they then got bought out by

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