Mortgage market must ensure it deals in Project Clarity

21 Sep 2018

Warnings about potentially catastrophic implications for the UK economy as a whole and within certain industries and sectors have come thick and fast in recent months.

However, until recently they have not tended to focus on the housing and mortgage market.

That changed this month with reports suggesting the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, had delivered a stark presentation to the Cabinet suggesting that house prices would fall by 35% over the next three years in the worst case scenario under a no-deal Brexit.

Understandably, given the UK’s obsession with house price levels, this caused a great deal of consternation.

This was especially so when the reports also suggested Carney believed the bank would have little leeway to act to stop this.

Media reports talked of increases in inflation and mortgage rates plus a significant drop in the value of sterling.

 

Lost in the headlines

Such a fall in house prices, coupled with rate rises, would leave many borrowers in negative equity and increased mortgage costs.

So to suggest this is definitely on the cards clearly leaves many homeowners with a worrying future to ponder.

However, in this case, we are now led to believe that the reality of that Cabinet presentation and the reporting of it, are somewhat muddled.

Because, as Carney clarified the next day, what the Bank of England had actually done was to model a 35% drop in house prices based on a no-deal, not suggest it was definitely going to happen.

Unfortunately, for many homeowners and borrowers, that clarity was lost among the headlines.

I read on Twitter recently that some advisers were already getting calls and emails from clients asking if they should sell their homes now and buy back into the market when prices had dropped by 35%.

 

More to come

This is clearly worrying in the extreme and suggests the spread of mis-information – especially in the current environment – could well lead to people making their own catastrophic errors when seeking to pre-empt what may (or may not) happen.

Advisers clearly have a huge role to play in countering this and these headlines give everyone a significant excuse to contact their entire client database to outline what has actually happened, and how it might significantly differ from the headlines.

This is not Project Fear but a quest for Project Clarity or Project Common Sense. Alternatively, you might file it under Project Don’t Do Anything.

One suspects there will be much more of this over the coming months, so it’s vitally important you ask your clients to contact you before they do anything based on hearsay.

At the end of the day the future is by no means certain and anyone who thinks it is, undoubtedly needs your advice.

Bob Hunt

Blog Archive

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