Monday, October 19, 2009

U.K. FSA: "More intrusive and interventionist style of regulation"

by Calculated Risk on 10/19/2009 08:40:00 AM

From the FSA:

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) today sets out proposals for the major reforms required in the UK mortgage market to ensure that it works better for consumers and is sustainable for all market participants.

The proposals, published in the mortgage market review discussion paper, reflect the FSA’s changed approach to a more intrusive and interventionist style of regulation.
...
“The paper sets out the main findings of the FSA’s comprehensive analysis of the mortgage market. It clearly shows a rapid explosion in mortgage products; the emergence of high risk lending strategies which typically focused on higher risk borrowers; relaxed credit standards; and a mutual assumption by too many borrowers and lenders that the good times could not end.

The FSA needs to ensure that firms only lend to people who can afford to pay the money back. The reforms that we have announced today will ensure that the mortgage market works better for consumers and that it is sustainable for firms.”
...
The discussion paper is out for discussion until 30 January 2010 and the FSA will be actively seeking views from consumer groups and industry. A feedback statement will be published in March. Implementation will be phased ...

•Affordability tests: the DP proposes making the lender ultimately responsible in every sale for verifying affordability. It also proposes that in each case a lender should assess the consumer’s ability to repay, i.e. calculate the free disposable income a consumer has to pay for the mortgage.

•Self-certification: the DP proposes requiring verification of income for all mortgage applications;

Toxic combinations: the DP discusses whether a type of product regulation likely to be more effective in protecting consumers would be to prohibit loans to borrowers that exhibit certain multiple high-risk characteristics, such as prohibiting loans to credit-impaired borrowers that are also at high loan-to-income.

• Arrears: the FSA will publish specific proposals in January to toughen up rules on arrears handling as well as banning administration charges where a borrower is adhering to an arrangement to repay arrears; and prohibiting the charging of early redemption charges on arrears fees.

Requiring all mortgage advisers to be personally accountable to the FSA; DP proposes extending the Approved Persons regime to mortgage advisers who deal with consumers and to advisers and/or arrangers who are responsible for overseeing compliance ...
emphasis added
They are going to ban stated income loans, limit risk layering (a key problem), limit arrears charges, hold mortgage lenders personally accountable, and require affordability tests.

This is a good model for the U.S.

For amusement, here is The Times headline: Homebuyers face questions on alcohol spending
Homebuyers could be forced to provide detailed information about the amount of money they spend on alcohol each month to qualify for a new mortgage under a new clampdown on reckless lending. ... It said lenders should delve deeper into homebuyers' personal spending including the amount they spend on alcohol and tobacco.