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Shotoflight

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  1. Bank of Scotland unfairly double billed customers says judgehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-28842534 Bank of Scotland has been unfairly double billing customers who fell behind on their mortgages, a High Court judge in Belfast has ruled. In a scathing verdict, Master Ellison said the bank's behaviour had been "unconscionable". He said it had caused borrowers to be "plunged into depression". The bank is a major mortgage lender in Northern Ireland under the Halifax brand, and is ultimately owned by the Lloyds Banking Group. The case focused on the way it added arrears to the original mortgage borrowing. That is a standard practice for tackling arrears and is known as capitalisation. It has the effect of increasing borrowers' monthly repayments. 'Erroneous' The judge ruled that once capitalisation had taken place, the mortgage should no longer be considered as in arrears. However, the bank continued to treat such mortgages as in arrears and used that as the basis for bringing legal cases. The judge said this meant borrowers had been held in fear and were being threatened with repossession on account of an "erroneous and fictional arrears balance". He said the bank's actions had distorted perceptions of affordability for struggling borrowers. That was because they faced increased monthly payments to reflect the capitalised arrears and a demand for the immediate payment of those arrears. The judge said this also distorted the true position in both the minds of those approached for advice and the courts. He said this meant that "many" court decisions concerning suspended repossession orders had been made on "erroneous assumptions". The judgement concerned three separate cases brought with the support of the Housing Rights Service
  2. Not a big player here, I think - but interesting nonetheless. Nationwide profits soar as lending dropsBanking business boosts profits 141% but largest mortgage provider for first-time buyers lending down by a third http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/aug/18/nationwide-profits-soar-mortgage-lending-dives Profits at Nationwide building society soared by 141% in the three months from April to June 2014 despite a one-third drop in lending to homebuyers owing in part to a regulatory crackdown on mortgages. The society said its first-quarter profits jumped from £105m to £253m, boosted by an increase in current account customers switching from other banks, and higher deposits by members. But the rise comes despite a steep fall in lending volumes. During the quarter, the society lent a total of £5.8bn, down from £6.4bn compared with the same quarter last year. Net lending – which paints a truer picture as it strips out the effect of people paying off their loans or simply remortgaging – was down even more, falling from £2.6bn to £1.7bn. Nationwide is the biggest lender to first-time buyers in the UK, accounting for around one in six loans in the sector.
  3. Given the necessity for two incomes to service a mortgage - or the choice to max out the loan on this basis - marital and co-habiting break up, and a poisoned atmosphere, can cause problems in short order. Unemployment/health insurance is presumably a non runner (or buy within your means and save) as many would prefer to spend on the granite worktop, finance a car or get a 48" tv (instant gratification) than do something sensible and long term like protect their largest "asset". Little fish communicated most of my thoughts earlier very clearly. Reposessions are a sign of a properly functioning market in spite of govt efforts to prolong and sustain the zombies - which is the essence of the current "taskforce". The fact that over 40,000 houses sold at over 9 times the average salary at the peak in NI shows that some people need protecting not only from themselves but also the sharks that missell including hare brained government inducements and nudges. Mortgagees take a 25/30 yr gamble on employment/health/relationships. Sh*t happens over that timeframe. A lot. The clue is on the documents signed - "Your house may be reposessed if you don't keep up payments........" That should be the deal. If you can't (or won't) pay we'll take it away. C'est la vie.
  4. London property boom a boon for building firm as turnover hits £26mhttp://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/the-skys-the-limit-for-high-rise-facade-specialists-mcmullen-30510002.html A boom in high-rises in London has helped a Co Down specialist construction firm reach turnover of £26.4m in the 14 months to January 2014. McMullen Facades in Moira had profits before tax of £25,638But it has been some years since it last worked in Northern Ireland, with all its recent contracts relating to projects in England –particularly London. McMullen Facades in Moira –formerly known as McMullen Architectural Systems – has been part of the Lakesmere Group in England since 2012 and employs 140 people. The recently filed accounts mark its first full accounting year since the takeover, which followed financial difficulties for the then family-run Moira firm. The firm worked on landmark residential and office buildings in Belfast such as The Soloist at Lanyon Place, the Obel Building and The Boat. But Mr McMullen said there had been no projects at home since it finished work on The Soloist around three years ago. "Unfortunately because of the decline in the construction industry, we don't currently work on projects in Northern Ireland," he said.
  5. Repossession rate for homes in Northern Ireland is highest in the UKhttp://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/repossession-rate-for-homes-in-northern-ireland-is-highest-in-the-uk-30509521.html Northern Ireland is expected to have the UK's highest rate of home repossession this year, according to mortgage service company HML. Greater London would experience the biggest number of repossessions in the second half of the year, at nearly 1,400.But with 858 repossessions predicted, amounting to a repossession rate of 0.74%, Northern Ireland would have highest incidence of foreclosure. HML's predictions came as the number of households having their homes repossessed fell to its lowest level since 2006 in the first half of this year, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). HML forecast that Greater London and Wales would have the second highest repossession rate at 0.26%, while the south west of England would have the lowest rate at 0.14%. Ursula Toner, advice services manager with Northern Ireland charity the Housing Rights Service, said: "The fact that Northern Ireland remains the area with the highest numbers of projected repossessions is sadly not a surprise for Housing Rights Service – neither will it be for the thousands of local homeowners at crisis point. "High levels of negative equity, increased costs of living and a difficult job market have severely impacted homeowners. We would urge anyone experiencing problems with mortgage or secured loan debt to seek advice." According to the CML, 5,400 properties were taken into possession in the second quarter of this year, marking the lowest number since quarterly records began at the start of 2008. When this is added to the 6,400 repossessions which took place in the first three months of 2014, the half-year total of 11,800 is the lowest six-monthly tally recorded since the second half of 2006, the CML said. The figures are not broken up into UK regions. Rock bottom interest rates have been credited with helping to keep people's repayments affordable, and the CML said that while the latest low repossession figures are "clearly welcome", borrowers should be planning now for how they will cope with rates increasing as the economy improves.
  6. Directors banned for racking up debts of millionshttp://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/directors-banned-for-racking-up-debts-of-millions-30509596.html The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment handed a seven-year disqualification to Stuart Andrew Jackson (34) of Glengall Lane, Ayr in Scotland in respect of his conduct as a director of EASSDA Limited, which was a property development firm based on the Antrim Road in Templepatrick.The company went into administration in November 2009 with estimated total assets of £11.84m, liabilities to secured creditors of £28.69m, liabilities to preferential creditors of £17,833, liabilities to unsecured creditors of £4.24m and an estimated deficiency to creditors of £21.12m. Proceedings are continuing against three other directors. Mr Jackson accepted authorising intercompany payments to EASSDA Ireland Limited, leaving an inter-company debt of £4.9m which cannot be repaid.
  7. Danske shuts two more branches as staff are relocatedhttp://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/danske-shuts-two-more-branches-as-staff-are-relocated-30512602.html Staff in Maghera and Dungiven will be relocated to other roles, the bank added. In June the Danish-owned lender announced it would be closing two branches in Holywood and Shankill Road, west Belfast, in September and moving customers to its Belfast city centre headquarters. Its latest closures will leave Danske Bank with around 48 branches in Northern Ireland, compared to 95 in 2003.
  8. 2 video snippets at link http://www.u.tv/News/Number-of-NI-repossessions-down/1a85528b-d618-4c7a-8974-a3ff47d3b374 However the crisis here remains worse than in other parts of the UK, with the shock wave from the property earthquake still being felt right across NI. Ursula Toner from the Housing Rights Service told UTV there is still cause for concern. "We are pleased to see the decrease in cases being brought to court but, to sound a note of caution, we are still the highest in the whole of the UK for repossessions," she explained. "We are expecting an interest rate rise and that will seriously affect local borrowers here." When people have their homes repossessed the pain doesn't end with the eviction - unless they go bankrupt, they still have to pay back the mortgage shortfall. It is therefore critical how good a price a repossessed home makes on the open market. New figures show that in NI such properties secure the worst value for money in the UK, with a home typically only selling for 42% of what it is really worth. That compares with between 60% and 70% in England, Scotland and Wales. Estate agent Colin Barkley said this can be for a number of reasons, including the condition of the property and the vendor reducing the price if it doesn't sell quickly. He said: "A lot of them are vacant properties. They maybe haven't been left in the pristine order a caring owner occupier might have left them in, so that can be one of the reasons. "I think you've also got a very motivated vendor when you're talking about the asset management companies, they're not prepared to let the property sit on the market for three or four months. "This might be normal in a private sale, but if it's not sold within the month they'll reduce it again, so that can be why the figures aren't good." The advice being given to home owners at risk of default is to consider selling their house before it is taken off them, as this means they are likely to get a better price than their mortgage company.
  9. Boom Boom http://www.insidermedia.com/insider/ireland/121250-northern-ireland-property-prices-offering-excellent-value/ Northern Ireland's property prices are offering "excellent value for money" as the market continues to boom during the economic recovery, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The organisation has predicted that house prices will rise by 4 per cent in 2014, providing investors with "strong potential" to grow their capital through the country's property sector. Ray Withers, chief executive of property investment company Property Frontiers, believes investors should focus on Belfast, which has averaged a rise of 8.7 per cent in property prices over the past 12 months. "There has rarely been a more encouraging set of circumstances, so far as buy-to-let investment has been concerned," said Withers. Samuel Dickey, spokesman for RICS, added: "The trajectory of house prices in Northern Ireland is continuing to broadly align with the wider economic picture, as a range of indicators are pointing to positive growth. "The evidence is that overall transaction levels are also picking up, something that we expect to see continuing into the spring and summer months, when the market is traditionally busier." Capitalising on the state of the market, Property Frontiers has just launched a set of buy-to-let apartments close to Belfast's popular Titanic Quarter, available at 16 per cent below RICS valuation.
  10. Pharmaceutical firm Almac creates 348 jobshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-28787510 The development is being supported with Invest NI grants of £5.5m.
  11. House prices in Northern Ireland rise for 14th monthhttp://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/house-prices-in-northern-ireland-rise-for-14th-month-30507388.html In the latest research by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and Ulster Bank, 38% of surveyors and estate agents also reported a rise in sales. 58% claim prices up http://www.rics.org/Global/7.%20WEB_%20July%202014%20RICS%20UK%20Residential%20Market%20Survey.pdf
  12. What I would welcome is an increase in my standard of living, not a reduction, going forward. Selfish, I know, but hardly too much to ask for in the midst of a 'recovery', eh?.
  13. http://boini.bankofireland.com/fs/doc/publications/hpi-q2-2014.pdf Mid & South Down "The strongest performance is for detached houses (£210,015) with the average price soaring by 28.9% over the year". Reports the survey
  14. First fall in UK wages since 2009 – what the economists sayEconomists remain puzzled over the new figures which show both unemployment and wages falling http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/aug/13/fall-in-uk-wages-what-economists-say "The combination of rising employment and falling pay growth suggests the economy is very good at creating low-paid jobs, but struggling to create the better-paid work we need for a fair and sustainable recovery. Self-employment has been responsible for almost half of the rise in employment over the last year. The fact that self-employed workers generally earn less than employees means our pay crisis is even deeper than previously thought, as their pay is not recorded in official figures.
  15. DVA closure: Redundancy scheme for Northern Ireland motor tax staffhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-28765212 The Department of Environment (DoE) has said 150 of those 260 have been found permanent work. A further 110 staff in Coleraine are doing temporary work for the Department for Social Development. This is due to end in December.
  16. Iris Robinson-linked developer Ken Campbell in debt dealhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-28689091 Businesses owed money by a property developer who lent Iris Robinson £25,000 to help her lover set up a cafe have received just 8p for every £1. Ken Campbell, who is from Saintfield, County Down, traded as J&K Campbell. He began insolvency proceedings against bankruptcy in 2011, applying for an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA). An IVA is a deal between a debtor and their creditors, by which part of the debt is written off and the outstanding money repaid over five years. A letter sent on Mr Campbell's behalf last week has been seen by the BBC. It said Ken Campbell's debts totalled £1.7m. The letter also revealed that the company that supervised the IVA was paid almost £50,000 for its work. It also stated that this company was now "pleased to be in a position to pay a dividend of 8p in the pound to creditors whose claims are neither secured nor preferential". Because J&K Campbell was held personally rather than incorporated as a limited company, Mr Campbell was liable for its debts.
  17. Some interesting commentary http://www.nihe.gov.uk/index/sp_home/research-2/housing_market_review.htm
  18. Have banks been let off too lightly in aftermath of the property crash?http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/opinion/john-simpson/have-banks-been-let-off-too-lightly-in-aftermath-of-the-property-crash-30481336.html Nevertheless, there have been casualties. Bank forbearance (in the interest of the bank and the borrower) has allowed trading to continue for some businesses with negative shareholder value. A small number of high profile business failures has tended to deflect attention from the wounded survival of others. With hindsight, many property developers and house buyers borrowed too heavily against the security of property that with hindsight was overvalued. For many years, until about 2007, this level of borrowing served the borrower well as rising property prices reduced the real cost of borrowing. It also served the bank, as lender, well. Banks which stretched their lending beyond prudential levels did so to supplement their profitability. On the island of Ireland, with hindsight, prudential lending rules were too lax and were honoured in the breach. Owners of many of the business casualties of the last six years feel aggrieved. Did they deserve to be caught in the largest property crash and business downturn of the last 70+ years? There is an understandable (if fruitless) search for someone to blame. Was it really the fault of people who asked for and were allowed to borrow too much with the inadequate security of improving estimated property values? Equally, was the fault more specifically with bankers and lenders whose search for expected profits was excessive?
  19. UK consumer confidence falls in July for first time in six monthsGfK survey is the latest sign that Britons are feeling less upbeat about the economic recovery http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jul/31/uk-consumer-confidence-fallsGfK NOP's headline consumer confidence index fell to -2 in July from 1 in June, which had been the first positive reading in the survey in nearly 10 years. Another consumer confidence index, compiled by Lloyds and released last week, fell for the first time this year in June and other surveys have shown that pessimism about household finances is growing.
  20. The average working person is getting poorer. 80% in this survey see things staying the same or getting worse. Presented as good news! Confidence grows by 16% as economic recovery takes holdhttp://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/confidence-grows-by-16-as-economic-recovery-takes-hold-30465463.html The survey found that the majority of respondents (60%) believed their personal finances would stay the same over the next 12 months but that one in five were hopeful of an improvement during the same period. Danske Bank also said the number of households believing their finances would deteriorate in the next year had fallen back to 18%.
  21. The bigger picture Are we on the verge of a new credit crunch?No one will thank you for talking about it, but in the world's QE-happy stock markets, indicators are flashing red http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9271191/back-to-the-brink/
  22. A senior economist has said political stalemate and lack of worker productivity is hampering the Northern Ireland economy's recovery.http://www.u.tv/News/Political-stalemate-bad-for-business/5b762e88-5900-41f4-bf25-b919b60b4688 "The problem in Northern Ireland is we had such a big decline after 2008 that we are still probably 10% or so under that level. "As many people will know, we are still in a world where wage levels and living standards are very depressed relative to what they were and it will take a number of years to recover that ground unfortunately." He added: "Part of the reason is that prices are increasing more rapidly than elsewhere and wages were lower to start off with and there seems to be an underlying challenge in the economy of achieving a higher level of productivity or output per worker. "There is a limit to what government can do so there needs to be a partnership with the private sector. "However, the Executive has said the economy is their top priority, but that is not so clear on the evidence of their decision making.
  23. http://www.hml.co.uk/latest-thinking/2013/11/partner-guest-blog-mary-frances-kearney-mcmanus-kearney-solicitors/ Today, if you simply Google the term “negative equity” you will be inundated with consumer debt organisations offering advice and guidance for the many homeowners that find themselves merely adding to the sizeable debt statistics. What then, can second charge lenders do when they find themselves in this market with defaulting customers? According to recent judgments by the Chancery Master in Northern Ireland, the answer is, not a lot. Adopting a basic proportionality test, it is clear that selling a property in total negative equity on foot of a second charge possession order would not bring any relief to the second charge lender as the full selling price would not discharge the mortgage debt. On the other hand, granting the possession order and selling the property would cause a disproportionate amount of harm to the borrower who would end up homeless as a result of the action. 39 new jobs at HML (2012) http://www.derryjournal.com/news/business/39-new-jobs-at-hml-1-3396132
  24. 97 pc of NI repossession sales result in mortgage shortfall(subliminal message - let people stay in houses they can't afford or overpaid for) http://www.wilson-nesbitt.com/news-updates/general/7630/97-pc-of-NI-repossession-sales-result-in-mortgage-shortfall Almost all sales (97 per cent) of repossessed properties in Northern Ireland resulted in a shortfall which is still owed by the mortgage borrower to the lender even though they have lost their home. The research by HML suggests that many people in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK are not aware that their mortgage liabilities don't necessarily end after repossession, and if the property sells for less than the mortgage amount, the lender can chase them for repayment of the shortfall amount. In the whole of the UK 83 per cent of sales of repossessed property resulted in a shortfall, with an average amount of £43,000 still owed by the mortgage borrower despite having lost their property. The figure is understandably higher in Northern Ireland because of the large negative equity problem caused by the fall out from the property boom which peaked in 2007. The shortfall does not lapse after a certain time providing the lender indicates their intent to recover the debt within 6 years, though HML considers that lenders should not chase all borrowers who have a shortfall after repossession. It suggests that mortgage lenders should look at the circumstances of each case and take a targeted approach to debt recovery. Damian Riley of HML believes a blanket approach is not in the "lender’s best interests and may be frowned upon by the regulator.”
  25. 90% mortgage approvals drive Danske £45m profits http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/90-mortgage-approvals-drive-danske-45m-profits-30458031.html Home loan lending was up 38% compared to the same period last year, which Danske's head of business and corporate banking Kevin Kingston said supports an overall rise in confidence across all sectors of the Northern Ireland economy. "The 38% increase in mortgage approvals reflects what we are seeing in terms of greater activity in the housing market," he said. But he added that he was not expected a swift return to the boom in house prices experienced in the years up to 2007. Since that peak in the market, prices have fallen by around 50%. Mr Kingston said: "It will be a long time before we see a housing bubble in Northern Ireland.
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