Today FM: The Last Word on mortgages

Matt Cooper from ‘The Last Word’ had Charlie Weston (Irish Independent) on his show along with Karl Deeter to discuss mortgages, loan rates and some of the developments that are starting to happen in the marketplace.

Some of the main points of interest were that switching is available again, rates are likely to lower and that some lenders are coming out with longer term fixed rates.

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Sunday Business Post – Deposits

This story appeared in the print and online edition of the Sunday Business Post on the 9th of June 2013.

Another banking win is how some heralded the  move by the NTMA to drop their savings rates, in some instances these rates reducing by over 40%. The savings products are distributed on an agency basis by An Post, but was it a decision made due to bank pressure and is there anything a saver can do about it?

To start we need to remember that typical deposit rates in normal nations with healthy banks are generally about one percent or less. Our nation is not typical, our banks are still far from healthy, so we have seen elevated rates for the last five years.

At one point in late 2008 early 2009 you could get over 5% on a one year deposit. And although the banks whine about An Post having state backing and great rates they didn’t do this when their members had the best rates during the financial crisis and only existed due to state support, sauce for …

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Banks are lending (while standards tighten)

I often complain that banks are ‘not lending’, they say this isn’t true. The Central Bank then says that lending criteria is tightening (report here). This at first seems to support the first statement, but could it be that they are lending and reining in on underwriting criteria at the same time?

It could be, AIB stated that they wanted to lend €800m this year (that was said at the end of 2011 at an in house conference), they are on track to lend €1,050m which is about 25% higher than previously expected. Bank of Ireland/ICS are saying the same thing, at the same time, the main lenders have jacked up rates and made more conservative estimations of who does or doesn’t get loans.

With the fall out in lending from 06/07′ to now, it means that there are plenty of borrowers of a high quality who are seeking finance, when you raise interest rates the stress-testing gets harder to pass, so that cuts out a lot of borrowers, as …

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Bank rates, onwards and upwards…

Something that is interesting is how people are amazed that banks are jacking up interest rates at a time like this… In fact, it is precisely because of the time we are in that they are doing it, and due to the market environment they face.

Banks have a choice at any time as to where they will put the money they hold, their job is to turn liabilities (deposits, debt, equity finance) into assets and at present there is a golden window of opportunity where any decent (almost any) assets can be lodged with the ECB and the ensuing liquidity recycled.

For the most part this has helped to support the bond market, part of the LTRO was based on this premise, but in Ireland while bond yields are attractive (still above 5%) mortgage rates are not as attractive. Currently the standard variable is less than 5% meaning a person can borrow for cheaper than the nation they live in is able to!

That won’t last, the likelihood is that sovereign rates …

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A handbag of recent thoughts…

In the Irish Times, Isabel Morton echoes some thoughts that I also have, that the property market represents a good opportunity at present, there are considerations though – namely to look for non-apartment second hand properties within the M50.

Last night I got to help launch the ‘Irish Property Buyer’s Handbook 2012‘, the second edition which was written by Carol Tallon [disclosure: the lowlight is my chapter on mortgages]. Minister of State for Housing and Planning Jan O’Sullivan was the guest of honour. It went well, and I think the book will be a success amongst prospective buyers because it really is a great piece of work on the practical aspects of buying property.

Phil Hogan is looking for some new thoughts on how to avoid a repeat of Priory Hall, the idea being ‘compulsory certificates‘ by architects. This seems like a great idea in soundbite format, …

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Should the regulator get involved with mortgage pricing?

We touched on this topic over on MyHome.ie last Friday in our weekly blog contribution to their site.

It is important to look at this from a few perspectives

1. Regulation and the role of the Regulator 2. Past decisions by the Regulator 3. Politics and policy

1. Regulation and the role of the Regulator: The idea of regulation is not for price control, rather it is about prudential control. As galling as it seems to everybody, the Financial Regulator is not (nor should they be) empowered to tell banks what prices they can charge. This is sickening given that we have spent €10,000,000,000 this year alone via the NPRF in supporting our banks (€8.8bn to AIB and €1.2bn to Bank of Ireland).

Readers, if you know of other jurisdictions where regulators set prices please let us know! The idea of a Regulator is that you pay for them …

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