Forensic Underwriting, when is it 'too much'?

Lenders will underwrite loans. That is part of the process, it is a natural and normal occurrence in finance, to underwrite, to ensure that you are researching the proposed deal to the extent that you can be sure that you are not taking a pointless risk, but when is it ‘too much’?

Traditionally an employee would be asked to give several forms of documentation as evidence of their position so that they could be considered for a loan. Normally this would have been a straight forward process, and one that generally works.

However, as of late we are seeing ‘forensic underwriting’ becoming more prevalent. The degree to which a lender wants to delve into a persons situation is rising beyond the traditional norms and in some cases we believe it is going well beyond the call of duty.

Let’s be frank, we need banks, who else will lend money to a stranger to buy an asset? Without banks it would only occur between people who have a lot of money personally …

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Forensic Underwriting, when is it ‘too much’?

Lenders will underwrite loans. That is part of the process, it is a natural and normal occurrence in finance, to underwrite, to ensure that you are researching the proposed deal to the extent that you can be sure that you are not taking a pointless risk, but when is it ‘too much’?

Traditionally an employee would be asked to give several forms of documentation as evidence of their position so that they could be considered for a loan. Normally this would have been a straight forward process, and one that generally works.

However, as of late we are seeing ‘forensic underwriting’ becoming more prevalent. The degree to which a lender wants to delve into a persons situation is rising beyond the traditional norms and in some cases we believe it is going well beyond the call of duty.

Let’s be frank, we need banks, who else will lend money to a stranger to buy an asset? Without banks it would only occur between people who have a lot of money personally …

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Deflation, the low paid, and expansion of the tax base

Here are some statistics (taken from the SBP) showing that contrary to assertions that the ‘rich don’t pay enough tax’ that in fact they pay more than anybody else. Half of all tax income is paid by the top 6.5% of workers. So about 1/15th contribute 50%. One third of all tax collected comes from the top 2.5% of workers, thus 1/40th are paying 33%. It means that things such as the new 2% levy are merely punishing those who already contribute the most! I wrote about this before when talking about the Laffer Curve and how Ireland may be driving high earners out of its jurisdiction.

Sources have said that the Irish tax base is too dependent on a small number of people, so what would happen if we were to drive them out? The implications are severe.

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Irish Government bonds, what is happening?

Governments often have to raise money to achieve their objectives over the short and medium term, in Ireland we do this by raising bonds which is basically where a buyer (private or institutional) acts as the ‘bank’ for the state. The creditworthiness of our nation is currently the lowest in the Eurozone, below that of countries like Greece and Portugal. This means that we have to pay more interest to attract a buyer.

Today Moody’s (a rating agency) has put Ireland on watch for a debt rating downgrade (it means our debt will be considered less secure), and that means that we will have to pay even more in order to attract new investors for bonds. How this trickles down to the person on the street is simple, we’ll have to foot the bill eventually because the ultimate guarantor of state borrowing are the people in that country. The tools to achieve this with are higher taxes and less public spending, both equally unpopular.

For now we …

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Beware the Contract/Valuation trap

Our firm has seen a rise in what we describe as the Contract/Valuation trap, so we will tell you what it is and how to avoid it as well as steps you can take should you find yourself in this position. The contract-valuation trap is one that occurs when the price of a property being purchased drops significantly between the time the contract is signed and the property is closed. All lending is generally based on LTV (loan to value – see our jargon page for a description of that), however, a valuation which sets the market price in the banks eyes is what the loan is based on, it is not based on what a person was willing to pay for it and this helps to give an independent opinion of the worth of a property.

Another issue is that in a falling market sellers become more ‘motivated’ and by that we mean that they will more readily accept a lower than asking price offer, …

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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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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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The stage is set for Euribor Trackers now that ECB ones are gone.

The market recently witnessed the death knell of the last tracker available, it was Leeds Building Societies high margin ECB + 2.2% offering. Previous to this we heard announcements from Bank of Scotland, AIB, BOI, ICS, Haven, Ulsterbank, First Active, IIB, PermanentTSB and every other lender that trackers were being withdrawn.

So now we have moved from a market where trackers were a key point of competition and value to one where they don’t even exist. This has had a key effect of removing transparency from rates, for instance, how is a Variable Rate determined? The future landscape of mortgages is likely to be some mish-mash of “fixed-variable-another fixed-fixed again-back to variable” it will be a non-transparent massacre of rates where the concept of ‘customer inertia’ will become only stronger.

If people find themselves in a market where they don’t understand long term value then there can be no responsible long term value decisions made. To put that in perspective: If you are getting a …

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Mortgages Online: Online or Internet Mortgages explained.

I heard countless anecdotes about online mortgages over the past few years and to be fair I felt that people were fundamentally right about things, that the mortgage market would go to the web to a large degree the way so many other things have.

Dunnes Stores strongest growth area is Internet shopping and I think Tesco would likely say its a big growth area as well, no need for retail space, people can browse as they see fit etc. so surely the same thing would happen across countless sectors? Right? Even finance?

Wrong… Well, not fully right anyways. If you look for an online-mortgage the likelihood is that you will be asked to fill in some information and ultimately a human being will still contact you and you will then send in documentation to them etc. it won’t be ‘online’ in the sense that buying a plane ticket is ‘online’ (i.e.: zero requirement for human interaction/intervention), however in this article I will outline the possibility for mortgages online and how I think the successful players will approach it.

Firstly …

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