The Criteria Crunch

We have just been informed that one the lenders we deal with are only getting through applications received by the 4th of March, that is a near 20 day delay on new applications they are considering. Why the backlog? Has the market suddenly recovered? Are they being flooded?

No, rather it is a case that in banks nearly everybody has been enlisted to work in ‘collections’ and the staff were taken from every other department, in particular the ‘new business’ section. The bank we are talking about today merged their direct channel with brokerage so even going via a branch makes no difference, the whole company has only four working underwriters.

So inasmuch as the credit explosion saw too many resources being thrown at lending and the expansion of same, the crunch is doing the exact opposite by overshooting the mark in the reduction of resources. For a publicly quoted bank to be 20 days behind means that the market is facing yet another hurdle in reaching its rational level. Lending hasn’t frozen, people are …

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Valuations in property are currently meaningless

Free markets, or indeed markets in general, have a tendency to set prices, not through control, not by one person holding up a placard and shouting from the rooftops, but rather through the process of prices reaching a point at where they occur, where demand and supply are reacting with each other.

So if you look for €3 million for a three bed semi in Donnycarney your property will not sell, no matter how much you want it to. At the same time, if you were to list a property there for €50,000 it would sell overnight, and both of these extremes demonstrate a pricing being totally out of balance with the market. The interesting point now though is this: The market itself doesn’t know what is happening, so valuations are currently meaningless. By that I mean the people who go out and value property are not able to make accurate assumptions about property prices in this market, we are seeing this daily, and then dealing with the end result which is …

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House prices in the near term: Robert Schiller

Economist Robert Schiller of ‘Case Schiller’ report fame says that he believes the housing market will fall further, confidence is everything in the property market and he says that confidence is at a record low and that is one of the primary reasons for his feelings on future prices. This makes for some interesting viewing, his book ‘The subprime solution’ and another called ‘Irrational exuberance’ are both excellent reads if you want to get a view on the current situation from a man who saw this coming. A vital point he makes is that avoiding additional supply is part of the solution.

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Will Specialist or Sub-Prime lenders be better off?

With the news coming out daily about prime lenders facing higher and higher impairment charges it begs the question of who will do better during a downturn, specialist/sub prime lenders or prime high street banks?

Banks stated that they feel impairments of up to 90 basis points were likely, some have revised this figure higher several times with NIB predicting impairment of upwards of 300 basis points. Sub-prime lenders on the other hand start off with predictions of high impairment and they price and gauge the risk accordingly from the outset. Given that starting point, could it be a case that Irish specialist lenders may come out the other side of the liquidity crisis with an overall book that fares proportionately on margins than other prime lenders?

To answer this question we must first consider margins, with many banks typical margin is from 1% to 1.5% on average, however, with many prime lenders this margin is  lower because of low margin trackers that were a point of heavy competition between …

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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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ECB announce €200 Billion injection

The ECB have just announced a €200 billion plan designed to stimulate eurozone economies, it is unlikely though that Ireland will take part in any of the plan. It was unveiled earlier today by Jose Manuel Barroso, €170 billion will come from member states and the remainder will come from the European Budget and the European Investment Bank.

Ireland has no room for further fiscal stimulus at present according to the Department of Finance, the foremost issue with Ireland is (according to Europe and our own government) is to get our spiralling deficit under control. One aspect of the stimulus is that €5 Billion will be going towards building greener cars (maybe this is the big break the AirCar has needed!).

The EU are taking these measures to avoid further downturn and to do so with coordinated policy responses. In the USA they announced an $800 billion Dollar stimulus plan. Both LIBOR and Euribor rates fell which will …

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House prices: movements and trends in Ireland 2008

We have said for some time that house prices will fall throughout 2008, we saw a recent article in the Sunday Tribune saying that house prices would fall a further 10% in 2009. Our belief has been for some time that we will see the most dramatic drops in Q1 & 2 of 2009 and that after that the speed of decent would slow down considerably, coming to a ‘no growth’ landing some time in late 2009. There are reasons for this which we will explain below.

Firstly we have to see the market accept the rationalisation that is upon it, sites like Irishpropertywatch.com are tracking the fall in prices, yet there are still well publicised people in the construction and business communities calling for government intervention. This must be resisted as must all irrational request on the government. They hold the purse strings but that doesn’t mean they have to spend until lobbyists or special interest groups are satisfied, they must instead …

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