Credit Crunch, What Credit Crunch?

Credit Crunch, What Credit Crunch?

Nationwide, Britain’s biggest building society, has announced a new 125%
loan-to-value (LTV) mortgage deal for customers in negative equity.  The deal
means Nationwide customers can borrow up to 95% on a new property and carry over
up to 25% of the loss incurred on their existing property.

The Bank of England estimates that negative equity currently affects between
700,000 and 1.1 million households in the UK.  But, some commentators have
questioned whether the resurrection of 125% mortgages makes sense, particularly
given the mountain of toxic debt that still looms large over the global economy.

Jonathan Davis, a Chartered Financial Planner and Managing Director of Armstrong
Davis, believes the to 125% LTV lending is a “joke,” which will cause
Nationwide further losses if house prices fall.

“You are taking people in negative equity,
pushing more money down their throats to back an asset that is still going down
in value,” he said.  “All the banks and building societies thought they were
going to get their money back when they lent gargantuan sums in the run-up to
2007 – they were clearly wrong then and they are wrong again,” he added.

David Prosser at The Independent
disagrees and welcomes the move:  “Without such deals, almost everyone living in
a home worth less than the outstanding mortgage debt would be stuck there.  No
chance of moving to a bigger place when a child arrives and no hope of moving if
a better paid job comes up elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, Ray Boulger at mortgage broker John Charcol thinks Nationwide
has made a “really consumer-friendly move.”  He notes: “Two other lenders are
considering doing something similar and by the end of the year we will have more
lenders offering this facility.”

Unless the FSA acts first, of course.  FSA chairman Lord Turner intends to
publish a discussion paper on mortgage
market regulatory reform in September.  The FSA could conceivably impose a cap
on mortgage lending at 100% LTV or below, which would have wide-ranging
implications for both mortgage lenders and borrowers, so watch this space…

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