This week we looked at the method we believe people with mortgage problems may end up using more often than personal insolvency to solve their financial problems.
A new low has been set in how ridiculous the area of debt mediation can be when dealing with banks. The most recent one is where re-arranged a clients finances to the point where they could make full repayments.
You would think such a proposal would be immediately accepted? Think again, Ulsterbank rejected this proposal for a client of ours. While we cannot reveal specifics what we can say was that the client merely needed some arrears re-capitalised and for a tiny proportion of arrears interest to be waived because there were delays caused by Ulsterbank not returning proposal letters our client sent them (which separately has CPC, CCMA and MARP implications), and was only requested as a way of accepting that both sides had short comings.
They could have said no to that part, as they ‘don’t do debt forgiveness’ (even when they create the problem), but instead they even refused to capitalise arrears which would be repaid in full as per the terms of the existing loan.
It isn’t often that our jaws drop, but when they do …
Moratorium: The lender agrees to freeze the repayments on the mortgage account for a specified period, normally 3-6 months. The borrower, with the consent of the Lender, makes no mortgage repayments during this period. This is most suited to a borrower who believes that their current financial issues are short term and their situation will improve in the coming months. What happens is that the borrower makes no payments to the lender on their loan however the interest that falls due is capitalised added to the loan, so the overall debt increases.
Extension of Term: The lender agrees to increase the term from 20 years to 30 years, this reduction in the monthly capital portion of the mortgage means the borrower will pay a reduced monthly premium. however the loan will take longer to repay, resulting in a massive increase in the total cost of credit.
Interest only Facility: The lender agrees to accept interest only payments for a limited period of time. This suits a borrower who is struggling to meet their current monthly repayments but are able to …
The US model of ‘short sales’ has a hidden sting in it that often gets lost in the noise, namely that the reduction of your debt is often considered a gain and it needs to be reported on your IRS Form 1099 (as opposed to a W2 or 1040) which covers income outside of wages/salaries/gratuities.
Which means that if you sold your property (we’re assuming it is in negative equity) for a €50,000 loss and the bank write that off, that in effect you have a non deductible loss which you didn’t pay and therefore you pay the tax on it (their equivalent of capital gains).
Like the US, Irish investors can offset capital losses against capital gains, in the case of your own home this doesn’t apply. In the American example a write-down creates a tax liability, although not in every state (my home-state of California being an example). This was becoming such a problem that the IRS brought out two special tax codes called ‘The mortgage forgiveness debt relief act …
The EBS is on the block and there have been countless headlines regarding the idea that debts might get written down by Wilbur Ross if the Cardinal Capital group (who he is backing) are the successful bidder. I have said that I doubt this will happen and will set out why in this post.
EBS carried out a PCAR (prudential capital assessment requirement) test in March 2010, it showed that they required €875 million in funding to come up to scratch. Thus far they received €100m in cash from the state and a further €250m in a promissory note leaving a gap of €525m to fill. The bids being touted are in the region of €550m meaning that whoever buys in is effectively bridging the gap and paying a small premium as well.
Take a look at a balance sheet and you’ll see that no matter what happens, that in the end assets=liabilities. That is an accounting identity, in our example we have a hypothetical bank which has assets and liabilities worth (for example sake) €100 million Euro.
Financial services (such as brokering) are a zero VAT business, we cannot charge VAT for our activities, we do however, pay VAT on all of our supplies and in one respect that makes financial services good for the Revenue Commissioners, it’s a one way street.
Equally, it makes everything more expensive for a financial services company, but we won’t be expecting any sympathy on that!
However, what happens when that financial service is for a person in difficulty? A guideline given by the Revenue Commissioners to a debt management company in Dublin has lead to the interpretation that ‘Debt Management’ is subject to VAT.
What that means is this:- If you get into trouble servicing your debt and you hire a professional service to help you negotiate with lenders and to arrive at settlements on interest and principle amounts due then you will have to pay VAT on the fee applicable by the company that is helping you to get out of trouble. Thus the service becomes 21.5% more …
There are two types of debt, good and bad. It really is that simple, broadly speaking there is personal debt and investment debt. Personal debt would be anything that is spent on assets likely to depreciate rapidly (some would argue housing belongs in there recently!) or that has no ongoing inherent wealth creation once used. If you were to say that with the two debt types they can be either good or bad then personal debt would lean to the ‘bad debt’ side, although it doesn’t mean it’s an actual bad debt in the sense that payments are being missed.
An example of this would be money spent on a car, clothes, furniture etc. with personal debt you should always try to ensure you have a good reason for incurring it in the first place, not simply out of ‘ease of use’. If your car broke down a new (new can also be second hand!) car may be warranted, a new car for the craic may be affordable but from a debt perspective its deplorable.
Then we get onto what …
A question we are sometimes asked is ‘what do we do if rates rise and we find it hard to make payments?’. The root of the answer lies in not getting into debt you may not be able to service in the first place, having said that the home of your dreams is not always going to be sold at a dream price and many people are feeling an increasing debt burden in 2008. This is down to a slowing economy, redundancies, increased margins on loans, and ECB rate increases.
Today’s post will have some simple tips about money management and ways to avoid bad debt. For a start you need to get a piece of paper and write down guaranteed outgoings, such as mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, groceries etc. If there is a hierarchy in what requires priority food comes first then further down the line debts, for debts (if you ever have to make that choice of which one not to pay) make sure you pay your mortgage first, and personal loans further down the line.