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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Bill Gross of Pimco talks about the deficit in the USA

Bill Gross, known as ‘Mr. Bond’ runs the largest bond fund in the world, in this video he talks about many of the issues facing the economy under the new Obama presidency. Bill Gross is a fascinating character who started his careers as a professional gambler I always enjoy listening to his views on the market which he does with an intersting mix of macro/micro/common sense views.

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The tipping point?

Today I am taking out the crystal ball, and asking it if these final weeks of December 2008 and the start of January 09′ are the tipping point of the greatest bear market since the 1930’s. The recession is huge, there has been billions in wealth wiped out, we passed the one trillion mark last month, the total is expected to be over 1.5 trillion USD in total.

The question is, how low will the path of this bear market go? [note: this is about the stock market and not the Irish property market] Central banks around the world are chopping rates, forming bailout packages and doing all possible to get the economy back on track. Today we will consider some of the reasons that we may be actually seeing the start of a tipping point.

I believe the trend will be that we saw what amounted to the greatest financial crash in modern history in nominal terms. The fallout in Q4 only escaped the ‘crash’ moniker (but ‘worldwide financial crisis’ doesn’t exactly have a …

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New trends in underwriting and credit

It is 2009 and one of the things we need to look at (at least from the mortgage market perspective) is the availability of credit. Many associations such as ISME and politicians such as Joan Burton have voiced strong opinion on the need for credit to be extended to small businesses. The same credit contraction is happening in lending for property.

While our firm, and almost everybody involved in the mortgage market accept that we are not at market clearing levels, the unavailability of credit for those who do wish to buy and are capable repaying their loans is going to cause an unnecessary distortion which will drive prices down further than is rational. Without getting too deeply into the reason for the credit contraction/deleveraging process which we have covered many times here before, the point of interest is the new brand of underwriting we are likely to see.

In the past people within the financial industry were looked upon favourably, not only due to the fact that they normally represented a …

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What stimulus is there after a 0% rate?

There are generally two strands to monetary stimulus, firstly there are interest rates, and then there is the actual money supply. We’ll talk about both of them here and what will mean for consumers.

Interest rate drops drive money into an economy in a few different ways, obvious to most is that the cost of borrowing comes down, so if a company has to borrow to hire people they can do so, people need less to service debts which increases their disposable income and that puts more money into circulation. The other thing that happens is that bank deposits look less attractive, interest rates dropping actually cause rate compression, something we discussed here before, and that means money (especially at a 0% interest rate) will not sit on deposit and will instead move to corporate bonds which will thus be a way of extending credit to companies and they can finance projects.

In the past many would ‘fly to quality’ …

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How falling interest rates hurt banks during a liquidity crisis

The falling interest rates are heralded by consumers of Irish mortgage companies as a godsend – well, for the clients of the Irish banks who actually pass on the full rate cuts that is! However, at the same time it creates a rate compression which damages the bank and this is what we will consider in this article.

Banks have two sides to the operation roughly speaking, on one side there is the lending function which we are all aware of, mortgages, car loans, personal loans etc. on the other side is the deposit taking function which provides part of the money they lend out. There is of course the interbank market which supplements (and often surpasses) deposit funds for lending, but to keep things simple we will focus on a world where deposits roughly equal lending.

When

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ECB cuts rates to 2.5% – tracker mortgage interest rates benefit.

Tracker mortgages are a mortgage that is tied to some form of base, be it the ECB base rate or the Euribor, in residential lending it tends to be the ECB in commercial it tends to be the Euribor. Today interest rates were reduced by a further 0.75% giving a new base rate of 2.5%, which is the lowest it has been since March of 2006,the Euribor is now at 3.743% and will see the base rate drop filter through in the coming days.

Commercial loans tend to follow the Euribor, specifically the 3 month money which banks actually tend to use to finance most of their operations. The way that banks operate is to sell long term but finance short term. This is where they create their margin and its based on the yield curve, part of the problem in the last 12 months was a yield curve inversion which made lending difficult and was a …

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Best mortgage interest rates for first time buyers

The current market is heavily weighted in favour of the buyer and for that reason we have seen more first time buyers interested in finding out how much they may qualify for, albeit that they may not plan to buy any time soon, many people still seem to be holding out for the ‘market bottom’, and naturally we don’t know when that time is, will be, or was (because it could have been last week, only time will tell), it is only with hindsight that the actual bottom can ever be accurately identified.

Another reason is that there are expected rate cuts coming, the next will be delivered at the 4th of December meeting of the ECB next Thursday. Many potential buyers are thus going to wait to see what kind of drop is delivered, if Trichet indicates that another may be in the pipeline it will have a strange effect of causing the inverse of what monetary policy is intended for.

The question we are getting recently is ‘what …

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New mortgage trends – Will Irish lending turn American?

Today we received an email from Haven Mortgages about their updated interest rates, we were pleasantly surprised because for the first time in a long time there were some very attractive long fixed rates. Recently banks have had no choice other than to lash on margin in order to pay for the funds they were securing. The new 10 year fixed rate from Haven is 5.66% it is also the cheapest rate they offer.

What does this mean for a borrower? Well, on one hand we have Trichet saying that he doesn’t see inflation coming under control until 2010 and as the ECB’s only job is to control inflation it would therefore stand to reason that we won’t see a rate cut any time soon. Economists and commentators (myself included) have made some bad forecasts and for that reason I would be prone to feel that the rate outlook is uncertain, at best the current climate is guesswork. This means that a borrower would do well to buy some stability, a way of doing this …

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Financial Literacy: What is a Mortgage? How do mortgages work?

Financial Literacy posts are designed to be more than just a simple definition, they are aimed at putting financial concepts into easily understandable terms and to give an example or two to demonstrate the answers.

Today we ask: What is a Mortgage?

By definition a mortgage is pledging a property to a lender as security in return for a mortgage loan. While a mortgage is not an actual debt it is evidence of a debt and is the legal instrument used to transfer an interest in land from an owner to a lender on condition that it will be given back to the owner once the terms of the mortgage have been satisfied.

I am a big fan of pictures so we shall use a few to show what happens.

Let’s take the example of ‘Joe’ who wants to buy a house. He must save up a deposit as loans require ‘equity’ it gives the bank some security in the sense that it means the person is vested in the purchase (they stand to lose …

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