Every so often you come across an amazing piece of news, something that makes you wonder if people have been asleep at the switch for the last few years. Let’s hear it for the good people at Halifax, who have just woken up and decided that perhaps they would like to have some documentary evidence of people being able to pay back the money they lend to them, as opposed to just being able to pay the interest.
Uh? What part of liar loans did they not get at Halifax? Let’s hear some of the excuses for interest only loans from Melanie Bien, representing
some bunch of charlatans delivering empty promises mortgage brokers:
“High-street lenders have been tightening their interest-only criteria since the downturn because they regard these loans as more risky than repayment deals. If this continues, interest-only mortgages could vanish, or become so limited in scope that they are available to only a handful of borrowers.
Interest-only loans aren’t inherently bad. What about first-time buyers who don’t have a repayment vehicle but are due an inheritance? Or someone with a modest income but sizeable and regular bonuses which can comfortably be used to clear the capital?
‘One size fits all’ does not work when it comes to mortgages. For some borrowers, not all, interest only is the right choice.”
Melanie, my dear, I don’t know if you really were born yesterday or you are thinking of your commission, but you are wrong. The tragedy is that if a borrower needs an interest only loan to be able to afford it, then an interest-only loan is inherently bad for that customer. That is because it is allowing them to live beyond their means, and they are also driving up house prices in general with the other people living beyond their means, achieving a drive-by shooting of many people’s personal finances.
There are some people that know how to use interest only mortgages. They are few and far between, and will have uncommon characteristics, like having large share portfolios and accumulated capital wealth. The sort of punter that needs Melanie’s services is not one of them, so when she says “you can afford this house if you start with an interest-only mortgage” she is always wrong.
There’s no money in it for her to say “you can’t afford that much” but the rule is simple. If you have to ask whether you can afford it, and the answer is “yes, if you go interest-only” then simply replace that statement with “Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?”
Buying a house is a big commitment. It’s hard enough to rely on having a job for 25 years. If you are relying on a bonus regularly then you are playing Russian Roulette with your finances. The whole point about a bonus is that it’s a bonus, so it can’t be relied upon…
It’s really staggering that it has taken getting on for three-and-a-half years for the Halifax to realise that interest-only mortgagees aren’t so much high-risk as they are bad risk.
Let’s face it, if you really want an interest-only mortgage, it’s hardly as if the Halifax are really raising the bar that much. Tell them you will pay off the loan with an ISA, and have the presence of mind to be able to produce evidence of having had that ISA. You can always cash it in after you have secured the loan if you really want to rent your house from the mortgage company. The new rule isn’t so much documentary evidence of having a strategy to repay the capital, more documentary evidence of having had savings for a year. If you really can’t drum up the savings then borrow the money from a credit card and put it in an ISA. You would be absolutely dead-certain certifiably mad to do that, but it would probably work.*
*please, please don’t do this. Halifax may check your total credit score and see the card loan, your ISA may fall in value by the time you want to cash it in to repay the loan, there’s just so much that could go wrong. If it still looks like a good idea, back away slowly from your computer, and seek independent financial advice as soon as possible. Oh and you probably can’t afford the house, BTW…