Tougher checks for borrowers

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) have today released mortgage reform proposals which are designed to regulate mortgage lenders and help prevent a repeat of the house price bubble that burst at the end of 2007. The approach they have set out is to prevent “reckless” lending to borrowers who can’t afford to repay the loan, which leads to foreclosures and repossessions and ultimately declines in the housing market.

The proposals seem to be designed to protect the borrower, by making it the responsibility of lenders and mortgage advisers to check that the mortgage is indeed affordable. There are proposals to prevent lenders charging the borrower for being in arrears, as long as the borrower is trying to reduce those arrears. However, as the BBC are reporting, there are fears that these measures would make it even harder for people to get a mortgage as lenders (who are already limiting the mortgage options available and the ease with which they can be taken) will insist of tough checks to make sure that the applicants really can afford the repayments.

Some commentators think that this might hurt the housing market, which currently needs all the help it can get, because it will mean fewer people buying houses. However, we should bear in mind that at this stage they are only proposals by the FSA, they may be modified or relaxed before they are introduced, and they are unlikely to take effect for 12 months or more. We may find, therefore, that a number of borrowers will try to take mortgages out before the new rules come in and lenders may be tempted to take advantage of this crowd by offering more and better deals. It’s not all bad news for those looking for a new mortgage, and we may see that this helps (in the short term) both house prices and the mortgage market. Long term, the reason behind the proposals is to make house prices and the market in general more stable, instead of the boom and bust that we have seen in recent years. This will mean house prices are unlikely to increase at the rate they did in the mid-2000s, but should manage a steady climb that is more reassuring for borrowers and lenders alike.

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Monday, October 19th, 2009 Mortgages No Comments

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The U.S. economy as one to watch

I’m in the United States at the moment, and the news here is of an economy that is still unstable. A recent report shows that not only are employers still cutting jobs, but that the number of jobs lost in June was more than were lost in May. Despite this, Barack Obama is confident that things are stabilising.

Why is the US economy important to us in the UK? The United States has the largest economy in the world and affects the economies of most of the rest of the world, including the UK. There are a range of ways economies affect one another – for example, if the US suffers from a poor economy there will be less demand in the US for British goods and services, as money is tight. Also, our financial institutions work very closely with those in the US – the bad debt created with the sub-prime loans in the US affected banks worldwide, and our own banks had been making sub-prime loans of their own.

It will be possible for the UK economy to recover before that of the USA – and in fact it might happen that way – UK industry does not seem to be suffering as badly as in the US, and we have a smaller economy to turn around. However, it is most likely that the global recovery will begin only once the US itself is in recovery – and the news over here suggests that’s some way off, at least for the moment.

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Saturday, July 4th, 2009 Economy 1 Comment

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