Property | International

No easy homes for UK homeowners after next year

Effective April 2014, they need to get professional advice on whether they can meet commitments

  • Reuters
  • Published: 13:06 November 1, 2012
  • Gulf News

London : Most Britons seeking a home loan after next year will be required to get professional advice to establish whether they can afford the repayments, the Financial Services Authority has said. Only people who earn £300,000 (Dh1.7 million) a year, have assets worth three million pounds or only want minor changes to an existing loan will be exempt from a consultation.

The aim of the new rules which come into force on April 26, 2014 is to test affordability and end so-called “liar loans” where the borrower has not been required to give proof of income.

The changes seek to end Britain’s history of housing booms and busts due to the country’s love affair with home ownership, creating rollercoaster rides for the economy.

The home loans market has already cooled sharply compared with the run up to the 2007-09 financial crisis as lenders are far stricter, forcing borrowers to stump up much bigger deposits while turning down others.

“We recognise that many lenders are now using a far more sensible set of lending criteria than before, but it is important that these common sense principles are hard-wired into the system to protect borrowers,” FSA managing director Martin Wheatley said in a statement.

“At the heart of the new measures is an affordability test to check borrowers can meet the repayments of the mortgage they want.”

Helping prisoners

Interest-only mortgages can be offered to anybody who shows they have a credible repayment strategy, the FSA said. There are no fixed caps on how much a bank can lend to a first time buyer, or limits on lending to older people.

Wheatley said one rule will be introduced immediately to deal with so-called “mortgage prisoners”, who find it difficult to remortgage because the value of their home has fallen.

The FSA estimates that 55 per cent of former first-time buyers who obtained a loan in 2005-2011 could be “prisoners”.

Over a fifth of former first-time buyers could also be in negative equity, meaning the value of their home is less than their outstanding loan.

Lenders would be allowed to make exceptions to the responsible lending rules for such customers seeking to remortgage, providing there is no increase in the outstanding sum to be repaid.

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