Drivetime RTE: Karl Deeter on pan-European Mortgages

In this piece on RTE’s flagship evening show ‘Drivetime’ Karl spoke about how mortgages being ‘cross boarder’ may not result in better prices for Irish consumers any time soon.

Obviously it would be great for the broker industry who are the natural distributors of such products, but there are many other factors at play including the largely under utilized Insurance Mediation Directive.

The piece finishes with some thoughts on rent control (or ‘certainty’) which are being suggested by Alan Kelly.

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Are banks lending?

A highly debated element of the recapitalisations to date and the NAMA debate have to do with credit flow, that if banks are given money that they will start to lend it out, the problem being that we currently have a rapid credit contraction.

The new Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield made his first public appearance since arriving nearly three months ago, and he said “A robust recapitalisation exercise will ensure that Ireland’s banks start this process in a stronger position and with a better funding outlook”. He is alluding to the thing that many people are forgetting, that when a bank has as high loan to deposit ratio they naturally hoard credit during times of widespread credit deterioration in order to ensure they have sufficient capital to face the impairments.

NAMA won’t ‘force lending out’, this is the aspect of fiscal policy not being able to ‘push on a string’, fiscal and monetary policy can pull a string and reign credit …

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Brokers back on a level playing field, five floors down.

Recently brokers have been accused of having a financial incentive to place loans with certain banks, we cannot deny that he playing field was far from level, at one end some banks were paying 1% and others were paying 0.5%, the scene was set for commission based decisions, that isn’t to say they occurred – but having such income disparity certainly put the odds in favour of best advice being at risk.

So it is with depressed joy that we can say this situation no longer exists. Depressed because getting to this point has meant a 50% decrease in our gross income (while VAT has risen which hurts a zero VAT business like brokerage, and transactions as well as acquisition costs have risen, along with increased lead times and processing hours in order to get cases approved), but joy because the air has been officially cleared surrounding intermediaries, we are essentially back to a level playing field on the commissions front.

At or near the 50 basis point procurement fee is where all of the major lenders who deal with …

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Round 2

With the Dow back above 10,000, the message from many on Wall Street is: Hurry! The recovery train is leaving the station! Don’t miss out on the next phase of the bull market!

Not so fast, says Robert Prechter, president of Elliott Wave International and author of Conquer the Crash.

“Everybody who’s saying ‘buy stocks’ today or ‘buy real estate’ is, I think, setting up people to get really hurt,” says Prechter, who believes the bear market rally is reaching a major top.

“We had a great opportunity at [S&P] 667 – that was the big opportunity,” says Prechter, who did make a bullish call last February. “The market is up 60% [from the March lows]. There’s no way the S&P is going up 60% from here.”

Prechter’s advice for most investors, as described in the recently released second edition of his book, is fairly simple:

Play it Safe: Keep as much of your assets as possible in cash and cash equivalents, Prechter recommends, stressing not all money market funds and bank CDs …

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‘Fix or forever hold your tongue!’, A floor on Rates (with a rise likely!)

Rates likely to rise as per AIB’s statement, and PTsbs actions, what we are trying to tell everybody, in clear English is this: ‘If you don’t have a price guarantee on your mortgage via a tracker or fixed rate agreement then you will be paying greater margin over ECB in the near future than you are now’. If you don’t act upon that information then it is your own decision but you can’t say you weren’t forewarned.

Forewarning doesn’t stop disaster, the historical evidence on that is overwhelming, in particular in the military arena, today however, we will look at some of the potential changes we might see in the market.

Floor Rate: This would be a variable agreement whereby the rate will never dip below a certain level. For instance, a bank might say that in a low rate environment it will (in the future) never allow its variable rate to drop below 4%, …

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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 errors of compensation

One of the most pointed arguments that we hear about is that of bankers pay, some people have even started to refer to them as ‘banksters’ instead of ‘gangsters’. The reality is that both the industry and the shareholders and everybody else got it terribly wrong, even the corporations with their internal and agent remuneration models got it wrong. We were rewarding short termism in a long term game, something akin to having a footballer who has to play the full 90 mins but we base all their pay on the first five minutes.

On one hand the general mass of decision makers didn’t see the financial crisis coming, granted, there were some who were shouting it from rooftops, in some cases those same people have predicted 15 of the last 2 market meltdowns (our most well known one began calling it from late 1999), with others they were just plain ignored. The best analogy I have heard so far came compliments of a very respected colleague with over 40 years of banking experience …

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The numbness of the bottom

When bad news stops having an effect then it is a sign that we may be approaching the bottom, if that bottom is an L shape or a U shape is down to how the crisis continues to pan out. However, the acceleration of the decline has been so rapid that unlike the depression, we are seeing wealth wiped out much faster, in the late 20’s early 30’s the drop in the Dow went from 343 to 71 over the course of three years, today the Dow went from 14,000 to 6,900 in just over a year. That same 50% drop took more than a year and a half from 29′ to 31′ (the crisis accelerated after that). However, an important difference between now and then is that the state sponsored institutions didn’t exist, such as state supported medical care and social welfare.

Bearing this in mind what can we determine of the near term future? For a start, bad news is no longer effecting share prices the way they normally would, a …

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Some past market performance figures

Naturally past economic cycles don’t tell us exactly what will happen in the future, but as Mark Twain once said ‘history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme’. And for that reason it is worth looking at some key figures from the past, showing that often the gains in bull markets are all found at the cusp of a bear market.

The stock market generally reacts before consumers and the real economy do and equally it will generally see recovery before them as well. Taking a view of the 20th century markets we can see the following:

In the recession of 1926 to 1927 the market increased by 41%. The years of 1933 to 1937 saw some of the most impressive gains ever in the S&P 500. The eight month recession of 1945 saw markets rise 19.5%, the eleven month recession of 1948-49 saw the markets go up 15.2%. Again in 1953-1954 the ten month recession ended with a market that rose 24.2%.

Any reader will note that much of these ‘gains’ did …

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Average loan life set to rise as we witness the death of the ‘Switcher’ mortgage.

For almost the last decade we saw a market develop where customers were king, and where banks competed for their business, this was an era where ‘refinancing’, ‘switching’, and ‘re-mortgaging’ became a common occurrence, in the 1990’s the re-mortgage market was very small in comparison to where it went from 2000 onwards. The reason for the upsurge was that loyalty doesn’t pay when it comes to the Irish banks, they were giving new borrowers better rates and charging existing borrowers more, the choice of fixed rates for an existing borrower were always more expensive than for the person who had jumped ship elsewhere and come to a bank as a fresh client.

Today we are seeing something that has long been unfamiliar, banks are intentionally being uncompetitive, pushing rates to the point where they are not doing any marginal lending and where their average loan is reaching higher and higher above the ECB currently several banks have broken the 6% mark meaning that rates are now at the highest they have been in almost a decade.

This means that lenders …

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