“Bank of Mum & Dad,” Huge Prop under UK Housing Bubble, is Running Out of Liquidity

“Mum & dad are lending money to their kids so their kids can afford to pay the prices demanded by mum & dad & their friends. It’s like a giant Ponzi scheme but where the victims are your children.”

As the economic growth in the UK stutters — for the first quarter, the UK posted the worst GDP figures in five years on weak business investment and household spending — the country’s all-important housing market is beginning to show signs of strain. In April house sales were down 9.4% on the previous year. In the UK’s most valuable market, London, house prices had their worst month since 2009, slipping 0.7%, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

As credit demand slips, some banks have decided to bring back a financial relic that should never have seen the light of day in the first place: the 100% mortgage. Both Barclays Bank and the recently privatized Post Office have recently unveiled 100% mortgage deals.

A high-risk loan instrument that helped fuel madcap property booms in countries like Spain and the UK, the 100% mortgage allows property buyers to borrow the entire amount of the purchase price. During the heady days of the UK’s pre-2008 property boom, some banks even offered loans that were 20% more than the property value. They included Northern Rock, one of the first lenders to collapse in the Global Financial Crisis.

Mortgages for 100% (or above) of the purchase price not only help fuel high-octane housing bubbles, they also make them a lot riskier when home priced decline, and when more and more borrowers end up with negative equity – where someone’s home is worth less than their debt. That, in turn, significantly raises the likelihood of borrowers defaulting on their loans. And that’s why these 100% mortgages are risky for banks

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