Mortgages - Get Fixed Up Before The Crashby Diane Newsom
They say trends will always come back around. What was fashionable in the 70s will always seem to pop up on the shelves 30 odd years later. Unfortunately, there are some trends we wish would never show their faces again - the 1980's property crash for one. Yet there has been some warning that we may be heading for another one.
It has been recorded that house prices have been dropping drastically over the last three years. With the effects being disastrous, more and more people are finding themselves in negative equity. The nightmare that happened during the 1980s seems to be resurfacing in the present day.
So what is negative equity? Negative equity is when the value of your house is less than your mortgage. Each month you will be paying interest on a loan that is more than the value of your house. This will make it impossible to sell, as you will owe the building society more money than what the house is worth.
The causes of negative equity can be high house prices or interest rates, or even a mixture of the both. When these variables are high, more people are priced out of the housing market. This causes the demand for housing to drop, which subsequently brings down house prices. Owners who bought at the high end of the market during the peak of the boom will suffer the most.
There is a rule of thumb used to see if houses are overpriced. Prof Oswald says the ratio of average earnings to house prices should be no more than 1:4. In the case of three years ago, when the average earnings were £25,000, the average home should have been around £100,000. This was not the case, where it was reported that the average house price was around £122,000.
As already mentioned, Britain has experienced negative equity before. It happened in the 1980s when there was a similarly strong house price boom. It was caused by the government ending dual tax relief, which enables both parties in a couple to each claim back tax. As the dual tax relief was coming to an end, there was a sudden rush for houses, which caused the prices to rocket. The mortgages themselves also became more and more expensive as interest rates rose through the roof.
Then came the disastrous property crash, which affected around 1.8million homeowners, plunging them into negative equity. It lasted over 4 years, with 1991 being the worst year as over 75,000 houses were repossessed. Interest rates were rising uncontrollably, making houses unaffordable. It became a deadly circle.
One of the main reasons so many people were affected was that very few had fixed rate mortgage. This is where interest rates on your mortgage are fixed for a given period, which doesn't change even though the market interest rates might. This can save you from hitting hard times during periods of high interest rates. However, if the market happens to turn and interest rates fall, you will end up paying more than the going rates.
With the signs there for another property crash, it is a great time to shop around for the best fixed rate mortgage. It's best to get one with a low interest rate and a long term fixed position (2 -3 years). Without one, you are in serious danger of paying high interest rates, causing you to fall behind with payments. If this happens, it could seriously harm your credit rating.
With a bad credit rating, many mortgage lenders will not touch you. The only option is to go to an adverse credit mortgage lender. An adverse credit lender is one that offers mortgages for people with bad credit ratings. This can be costly, as your monthly payments will be quite high with this type of loan.
During these times of high interest rates, many people will look towards debt consolidation to get rid of their debts. This sounds like a great idea to get rid of those sleepless nights from concern about money problems, but is debt consolidation as good as it seems?
The idea of debt consolidation is to give the borrower a loan with a lower interest rate, which can be paid back over a longer time period. This loan is then used to clear up all your existing debts. Even though the interest rates are low, you will still end up paying more money than you would have if you sorted out the individual debts yourself. Also, lots of companies charge service rates, which can become quite costly. You should be aware of the risk before you consider taking up a debt consolidation loan.
We are entering a time where the housing market is at a low. People need to be very careful during this period, and must take precautions so as not to be seriously affected. There are lots of options out there, as well as companies that can advise you on the best course of action. Remember to shop around for the best fixed rate mortgage; lots of companies now do them. If you find yourself in a debt related problem, you can get help from the National Debtline or the Citizen Advice Bureau.
About the Author
Diane Newsom is an author for the UK portal Usewho. Visit them for more information on negative equity.