herald

Friday 31 October 2014

New hope of debt deal for families in mortgage fire sale

A FIRE sale of mortgage loan books from our banks is raising hopes of a fresh deal for debt-ravaged homeowners.

Householders, many of whom borrowed 100pc mortgages during the boom and are now in negative equity, are more likely to get a write-off deal on their debts if their loans are bought by companies from outside Ireland, say experts.

Bank of Scotland (Ireland) is trying to sell its Irish mortgage book , in a move that could benefit many of its 80,000 mortgage holders. Most of the mortgages are trackers.

"Huge numbers" of the mortgages it issued were for 100pc of the value of homes at the peak of the house boom.

Meanwhile, Permanent TSB has signed a €287m deal to sell its car loans, consumer loans and some business loans, reportedly to a company controlled by Deutsche Bank.

Companies that buy up mortgage and consumer loan books are more likely to agree to write off debts, as they have bought the loan portfolios at a massive discount, financial experts said.

Earlier this year, Australian group Pepper bought the mortgage book of subprime lender, GE Money. It recently did a deal with a family in arrears where €110,000 was written off, on condition the house was sold.

Financial experts said the sale of loan books to new operators offered the best hope for consumers to get debt deals.

Karl Deeter, of Irish Mortgage Brokers, said Bank of Scotland was planning to sell its loan book. The sale of loan books offered one of the best prospects for a banking recovery, he said.







Settlement

Bank of Scotland/Halifax said it has a policy of not commenting on whether it was planning to sell any part of its business.

Michael Dowling, of the Independent Mortgage Advisers Federation, said buyers of bundles of loans from banks here were more business-like when it came to negotiating debt write-downs with customers.

It was "very difficult" to get deals out of domestic lenders but companies that bought distressed loan books would agree a settlement where they could, he said.

Earlier this week, Bank of Scotland/Halifax sold its Irish commercial loan book at one 10th of its original value.

It also emerged that the bank had written to residential mortgage holders telling them they were no longer protected under Central Bank rules here.

It subsequently claimed this was an error and mortgage holders here still had protections under regulatory rules.

mlavery@herald.ie

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