Archive for June 11th, 2010

With an estimated €22bn of property-backed loans being acquired by NAMA reckoned to be located in the UK (€17bn in Britain and €5bn in the North), NAMA is being regarded as a potential major vendor. Delegates at Savill’s annual Property Financing conference in London heard that Lloyds, RBS and NAMA account for more than half of all UK real estate debt (although not specified I think they’re talking about debt due in the next 2 years). William Newson, UK head of valuation at Savills is reported to have said “that NAMA’s problems “were so big” that it may decide to focus on managing assets within its domestic market and seek to offload UK properties first”

The same conference heard that a problem facing NAMA and other sellers will be the unwinding of interest rate swaps – financial devices purchased by borrowers whereby they contracted to swap their interest payment commitments (usually floating in Ireland – ECB + 2% seems to have been about the average) with other borrowers who had fixed rate interest commitments – unwinding a 5-year swap put in place in 2007 would cost 12% of the original loan value.

The conference also heard that there was finance available but that historically low loan to value rates coupled with “low lending ambitions” on the part of banks created a difficult environment. German banks are seen as the best providers of loan finance at present.

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Optimism about the stabilisation of the property market. In its semi-annual survey of mortgage brokers, KBC reports that of the 172 brokers who responded to the survey, 62% said declines in Q1, 2010 had continued but at a more modest level than before, 4% said prices had declined at an accelerating level and 34% said prices had stabilised. Oddly enough 2/3rds of respondents felt NAMA would have no impact on prices whilst 1/3rd thought that NAMA would contribute to a stabilisation of prices – no worries then of NAMA flooding the market with cheap properties! The other conclusions of the report are:

Property is 40% off peak (this compares with the State’s only hedonic price index, the Permanent TSB/ESRI index which at the end of March 2010 indicated we were 35% off peak).

Declines in price are moderating and in some instances there is evidence of prices “starting to stabilise”

Activity levels are low but brokers are optimistic for the summer months

Any rebound is likely to be “modest and uneven”

To what extent is the survey credible? There are no suggestions that it wasn’t properly carried out but here – take a look at the survey for the same period in 2009. The conclusions then:

The property market was weakening still but “the pace of decline significantly eases”

There was “greater optimism about activity in coming quarter [with] hints that the mortgage market may be bottoming out but no major improvement is envisaged for some time.”

Given the carnage that was the property market in Ireland in the second half of 2009, when according to the Permanent TSB/ESRI, the average property fell 12% in six months alone from an average of €243,770 to €215,184, you’d have to ask if the survey forecasts have much value.

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