We made an appearance on Primetime last night to comment on the property market and the issue of negative equity in ireland.
This is a video on the fall of Bear Stearns, it is based upon the book ‘House of Cards’ by William Cohan, it is a six part interview so rather than post them all on our blog, if you want to watch the rest go here. Minyanville is also a site worth bookmarking!
That banking in Ireland is a little irrational at present is a given, however, there are occurrences in the market which will change pricing structures in the near future, interestingly, by trying not to compete for business, several banks will ultimately make the market more profitable for all of the banks, achieving almost the opposite of what they had hoped to do.
I’ll explain, at the moment we have seen widespread Sovereign Credit Retrenchment, that’s a fancy way of saying that banks who are bailed out by certain countries are only really focusing on their indigenous markets because it is those markets that bailed them out. Irish banks have done this, Irish owned UK operations are closed. Equally, UK banks here are doing this by making their existing business rates higher and their new business rates exceptionally high.
Bank of Scotland’s new business variable rate is 6.19%, a whopping 5.19% over the ECB, they are doing this to avoid lending, and they are also paring back LTVs so that you have to have greater equity in the deal to borrow, …
The most popular question I am asked as of late is whether or not we are at the bottom of the housing market, and the answer is ‘no…. but perhaps closer than we think’. Today we will consider a few of the things we will need to see in order for ‘recovery’ to occur.
First of all we need to see a reduction in the massive overhang of housing stock, even if the number reduces, they all need to be sold and a degree of scarcity will need to develop in order to make prices go up again, currently supply is swamping demand and that dynamic will leave uncertainty in its wake.
However (and here is part of the ‘perhaps closer’ bit), NAMA will likely take a lot of housing off the market, in particular it will take it off the market and drip feed it back in, if this happens then it will avoid devastating fire sales, it might also lead to stagnation …
A part of me feels bad about not having any pity for some of the people who recently had their homes repossessed. Note: I said some not ‘all’, the reality is that I agree with repossessions for people who bury their head in the sand. In many cases the person had made no payment in three or four years and avoided any contact from the lender.
How do you negotiate with a person who won’t even come to the table? Or worse yet, who refuses to acknowledge there is an issue to come to the table for! The IBF recently decided to start working with MABS on a new protocol for people in financial difficulty, we fully support such a move, and for people in mortgage arrears, or indeed any financial arrears we even wrote a guide for …
Joe Saluzzi of Themis Trading (I mistakenly read the link initially as ‘the mistrading’!) have recently published a paper which accuses traders of intentionally trading huge volumes where they buy and sell for the same price and in the process make a half a cent per share. The volume of trading is fictitious ‘high frequency traders’, what they do is buy and sell and collect liquidity rebates from the exchange (note: 50 milliseconds is a huge amount of time) in this game. Do it 8 billion times and it really starts to add up.
This is just depressing, actual investors don’t get to join in because the firms engaged in this are doing it within the actual exchanges using the fastest computer technology available. They also have an unfair advantage in how they trade because they use rules intended to match buyers and sellers to their advantage, they find hidden liquidity and in essence remove it from the market as profit.
The most powerful deterrent would be to make a rule …
Ronan Lyons gave a talk to CFA Ireland on the 9th of July on the topic ‘Supply, Demand, & Prices in Irish Property’.
Ronan is one of the most respected voices on the property commentary circuit in Ireland due to his careful analysis and long term association with the nations largest property website daft.ie (from which he gathers his datasets).
This video (click here to go and watch the full play-list) is required viewing for anybody with an interest in the Irish property market.
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.
I have been quite public about my belief in property tax (caveat being we should have far less income tax/levies etc. perhaps a ‘flat tax’ would be best), and if there is one book that has really helped to shape that opinion quite succinctly it is Fred Harrison’s masterpiece on the topic, and the subject of this review ‘Boom Bust‘.
Fred Harrison saw the property crash in the UK of 1989/90 in 1980, and furthermore, he named a date, he also named a date of specifically 2010 (as a bottom, not as the ‘start’ of a crash) in the mid 90’s. How? It is due to his analysis which goes back to the 1500’s of property cycles, and while I am still sceptical about his ’18 year’ cycle, the one thing that fully convinced me was the basis and need for a more rational and working approach to property and taxation of same, or the ‘democratisation …
Trackers are dead and gone, there is one on the market but it’s at a margin so high that it is effectively worse than a bad variable rate. Evidence from the UK indicates that Co-Operative Bank’s tracker offering which is 2.39% tracker mortgage.
Will Irish banks follow suit? Probably not in the short term, when the market turns there will be some bank who have accumulated more than capital required and they will then turn this into lending, having said that, it will likely be a self underwriting product, one where the LTV is <= 50%, minimum of €200k borrowed but no more than €450/500k, and a qualifying income of €90k combined needed (stripped of overtime/bonus etc.).
If trackers come back I would be totally satisfied that they will operate as a client cherry picking operation more than anything, having said that, with time a competitor might follow suit!