View more on these topics

Weighing up the options on lending calculations

Income calculations are hardly the stuff that columnists’ dreams are made of but stick with me on this one, as I reckon there is a real need to blow away some of the hype surrounding the treatment of income. Some important points about lending calculation are not getting the exposure they deserve.

So, income multiples or affordability calculations – which way to go? I doubt many will disagree when I say there are problems with income multiples. They are open to obvious criticisms. Some people think they are inflexible while others say they contribute to a tendency toward non-compliant mortgage sales.

If you are a betting person the odds on the income multiples nag don’t look too good in the lending calculation stakes. But there are a few compensating arguments in their favour. Primarily, they are tried and tested, and they are easily understood. And that, in many respects, is the essential saving grace of the income multiple. From the intermediary’s point of view the calculation is straightforward. In a mortgage interview you can give your client a pretty accurate idea of what can be borrowed. Sourcing systems will do similar calculations.

Consider then, the alternative of using affordability calculations. If you as an intermediary have transacted with the lender, fine, but if you haven’t the process is complicated.

You will have to download and install software. You might even have to obtain a CD. When you have the software you can input information into the system and, lo and behold, you can tell the client what they might be able to borrow. That, in a nutshell is the problem with affordability calculation. It removes intermediary skill – and that I see as a problem.

This represents yet another example of the process flowing backwards from the lender to the intermediary.

And remember that intermediaries will be making their own affordability calculations anyway.

I acknowledge that income multiples need an overhaul. The multiples on offer have not shifted dramatically since interest rates were in double figures in the early 1990s. The industry must urgently review these levels.

Some lenders appear to be confusing two processes. In the past the process of the affordability calculation was, within many lenders, the preserve of the underwriter. The case was presented to the lender by the intermediary using income multiples. As a back-up and justification for the mortgage amount requested, the affordability calculations were then made by the lender. Occasionally cases were marked down when there was evidence of high indebtedness, but only occasionally.

The picture beginning to emerge now is of a far more complex and less certain process being pushed back onto the intermediary. What next?

Will affordability calculators offer a durable solution to lending calculations? They are no panacea. There are benefits to both systems. But I reckon the two should be used in tandem, not exclusively. Subject to lenders adjusting their income multiples there is still plenty of mileage in the established principles of income multiples and underwriting working together.


EU ministers convene in Bristol for sustainable communities talks

Ministers from 29 European countries arrive in Bristol today with the common goal of improving quality of life for 450 million citizens across Europe by creating more sustainable communities where people want to live and work.Deputy prime minister John Prescott is hosting the two-day meeting of EU ministers, with Danuta Hubner, the European commissioner for […]

Halifax joins data sharing initiative

Halifax has joined the recently announced initiative to extend the amount of data credit providers share. It says any improvement in the data made available by lenders to each other is a positive move for lenders and consumers alike.For a number of years, it has provided both positive and negative credit data across all its […]

Pension crisis bolsters B2L

The pensions crisis is bolstering the buy-to-let market as investors choose to hold on to properties, says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

A&L welcome plans to abolish residential property from SIPPs

Alliance & Leicester has welcomed Browns plans to cut residential property from Self Invested Pension Plans.Brown announced plans at todays pre-Budget report to remove residential properties from the upcoming changes to pension rules.SIPPs and all other forms of self-directed pensions will be prohibited from obtaining tax advantages when investing in residential property and certain other […]


Case study: administration — implementing a management log

Our client is a leading video game and publishing company best known for its console role-playing game franchises. The client provides a number of benefits, at varying levels and cost that attract a P11d liability. With the absence of a management log to track data for benefit movements, enormous administrative and therefore cost implications were occurring each year just to comply with P11d reporting requirements.


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up