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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How much of a deposit do I need?

When making a mortgage application this is a question that many first time buyers want to know, how much money do I must I have for a deposit? Well, that kind of depends on which bank provides the mortgage finance!

Lending criteria is different for every bank/building society/lender, this goes for rates, the general underwriting criteria as well as the ‘loan to value‘, the deposit you need is 100% minus the Maximum LTV and that will give you the deposit amount you require. For instance, ICS have a maximum LTV of 92% so the deposit you need – if you are obtaining finance through them – is 100% – 92% = 8%.

What is interesting in that example is that when you go ‘sale agreed’ on a property the estate agent will ask for a security deposit and the balance of 10% at the signing of contracts, this is an example …

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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 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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How To: Get a better rate from your bank

Banks are not lending as freely as they used to and for many borrowers obtaining credit is harder than ever, the people who already have mortgages are also feeling the pinch as lenders raise the margins on variable rates – which they have every right to do!

Tracker mortgages are now gone from the market and we are left instead with a confounding maze of LTV based Standard Variable Rates. This means you get a rate with no guarantee, set by the bank, and its based on the loan to value of your property. This may leave many feeling that they have no option and if you have a defeatist attitude one could argue that it has been imposed rather than earned!

However, last week a member of our team decided they would do something about the rate they were getting and they called the bank and tried to negotiate a better rate, they were rebuffed several times and eventually they got past the business prevention unit and were …

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