Are you getting your full tax relief?

There was an article in one of Ireland’s national newspapers last week describing the major issues surrounding the rescinding and subsequent re instatement of mortgage Interest relief. For those who are uninformed about this subject, mortgage interest relief (or TRS) was suspended pending the requirement for every person that previously claimed relief to re-apply for it. This was not a move intended to deprive anyone of their entitlements, more a housekeeping exercise to make sure that things are as they should be.

Thousands of Irish home owners had their tax relief temporarily suspended so that a general process of reassessment could take place whereby people would ascertain that whatever they were receiving in tax relief was correct. The Government spends millions every year on the TRS scheme, and with the exchequer being frightfully strained like Mary Hearney doing a triathlon, it was a necessary to ensure that the recipients of tax relief at source were indeed fully entitled to it.

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What do banks want when you apply for a mortgage?

Sometimes I ask the folks in the office about the questions they are asked by clients they are dealing with at the time, often it will result in comments like ‘the usual’… ‘How much can I borrow? What’s the best rate etc.’ and while that is true, another question often asked is one that is implied but not directly a question.

‘What do banks want from me when I am making a mortgage application?’

The answer, in the sense of principles, is that that they are looking for a way of determining your ability to repay a debt, some mathematics is used, some gut instinct often plays a part too, qualitative is mixed with quantitative.

Banks use different general mortgage calculators and these use your financial information to give different brackets of lending outcomes. In looking at your p60 they try to establish a year on year figure for your earnings, if you got a raise in the interim (if you did recently you are a rarity!) then …

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The Regulator is good for business… In particular State owned business

In browsing the site itsyourmoney.ie today I noticed something interesting. First of all there is a section for ‘savings & deposit accounts’ then a separate one for ‘state savings schemes’ (note SSIA’s are long gone), but the ‘savings schemes‘ are all really just deposits! Check out their rates too! lol.

If you go to ‘compare costs and benefits’ on deposit accounts you get a list, but in with the banks who shows up? An Post, so they are either a ‘state plan’ or they are not? Indeed it seems both apply, they have their own section, and they are also in with the rest of the financial institutions.

If you go to compare products and click on a high street bank name, it takes you to a page where it shows the product details of whatever that bank has on offer, however, if you click on the name …

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Rent to buy: The pitfalls in practice

Rent to buy is not a ‘new idea’, one of my mentors is a man who built over 10,000 homes in Dublin (he retired in the 70’s having started his business in the late 40’s), but in talking to him he spoke of almost exclusively selling houses in staged payments and renting them out to prospective buyers as a way of paying for the property.

The resurfacing of rent to buy is not evidence of the wheel being reinvented but purely of the prevailing economic environment, however, unlike the way it operated over thirty years ago, today renting to buy is having obligations stitched into the contract that may not be possible to meet in the future and therefore it leaves the renter/purchaser in some slight uncertainty.

One of the primary issues is that of ‘loan offers secured’. When you rent to buy you are essentially (in most cases) saying you will buy the property at a point in the future for the market value at the time of completion of …

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Why aren't mortgages MORE expensive?

In looking at any product or service you will often hear people mention ‘supply and demand’, it is one of the foundations of Microeconomics.

Generally if supply increases prices drop, if it decreases prices rise. By how much is a question of how elastic the demand is versus supply.

We know from our day to day experience that there is still a high level of demand for mortgage finance, charting our figures back to 2005 has shown us that if we take out ‘noise’ of m/o/m figures that demand is still at relatively high levels.

However, we also know, from our daily interactions with banks that criteria is getting harder, conditions more restrictive, underwriting is more forensic, the supply of mortgages is decreasing rapidly.

Using a simple chart you would get something along the lines the one below, the blue supply and demand lines show  the situation at a certain point in time, we’ll say that is a year ago, the green line of supply shows the current situation – it has moved to the left because of the decrease.

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Why aren’t mortgages MORE expensive?

In looking at any product or service you will often hear people mention ‘supply and demand’, it is one of the foundations of Microeconomics.

Generally if supply increases prices drop, if it decreases prices rise. By how much is a question of how elastic the demand is versus supply.

We know from our day to day experience that there is still a high level of demand for mortgage finance, charting our figures back to 2005 has shown us that if we take out ‘noise’ of m/o/m figures that demand is still at relatively high levels.

However, we also know, from our daily interactions with banks that criteria is getting harder, conditions more restrictive, underwriting is more forensic, the supply of mortgages is decreasing rapidly.

Using a simple chart you would get something along the lines the one below, the blue supply and demand lines show  the situation at a certain point in time, we’ll say that is a year ago, the green line of supply shows the current situation – it has moved to the left because of the decrease.

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Rent or Buy the 5 year outlook

Today we are going to look at a comparison of renting vs buying with a five year outlook given the current interest rates, the yield outlook and lastly the cost of renting.

The following figures factor in real life examples taken from existing lending rates/rental prices and the forward estimation on rates is taken from presumptions in the current yield curve (chart is below). The terms applied in each example are 30 years, and the purchase is assumed to be a couple buying together, we can examine the impact for a single person in a separate post.

If you were to take a price of €313,000 for a two bed property (current average taken as a mean of prices in todays daft report – this figure is the Dublin average price across all geographic areas, the figures can be determined for any county the same way) and do the following.

1. Compare the total cost of ownership (we are not factoring in house insurance, bin …

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Good news: Rate drops and recovery indicators

Doom is the only thing selling lately, but today we will bring you some of the Sunny statistics that are being largely overlooked. This doesn’t mean we are well down the road to recovery but there is the distinct possibility that 2009 will be a turn around year for the global economy, that turn around might be a turn for the worse too though! However, the statistics we will show you now are all positive economic indicators.

1: The end of March saw the housing figures compiled for the previous month [USA]. In February the US Housing sales jumped , existing homes up 5.1% and new build was up 4.7% as buyers took foreclosure properties and others that were thought to be at ‘bargain basement’ pricing opportunities. This could be a hiccup or it could be the start of a trend, it is important to note however, that it took spectacular price drops for the renewed activity to occur. The economic stimulus package also provides tax relief to eligible first time …

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Geithner plan, re-explained by Khan Academy

Another video from the Khan Academy, talking about the working reality of the Geithner Plan. Really it seems that the plans sole purpose is to allow investors to use taxpayer money to buy assets with all upside and little or no downside by using a credit default swap to insure the deal. Even a zero return isn’t to be balked at when investing during a period of deflation, the way it’s described here puts it out in plain english.

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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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