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Charity calls for exams for first-time buyers

Malcolm Hurlston, chairman of national debt charity Consumer Credit Counselling Service says mortgages for first-time buyers should be sold like driving licences and people should have to sit exams.

In a speech today at the CCCS Annual Convention Hurlston called for the Financial Services Authority to issue home ownership certificates to anybody buying a first home

He said that pre-mortgage counselling had already been launched in the United States by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and that the UK should follow its lead.

He said that those most likely to have a debt problem in Britain are those on low incomes who have wrongly, or too soon, embarked on home ownership:

He says: “Home ownership is a lifestyle choice but a trap for many.

“First-time mortgages should be sold not with pretty ribbons and tax breaks but with health warnings.

“They should be sold like driving licences, after study and an exam.”




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  • Remi Keeble 30th April 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Interesting suggestion.

    I whole heartedly agree with exams as they set a benchmark for others to see. This should therefore engender a sense of confidence in the exam holder when dealing within the field of the exam qualifications they hold.

    Would someone therefore please tell me why this gentleman is inferring that MY qualifications are now no longer sufficient to offer advise and guidance to first time buyers?

    Sadly we are not dealing with anything close to real world thinking here. I feel this statement is clearly prejudicial to certain classes within this country who are always the first to end up in the scrap heap of life because goalposts are constantly being moved and made more unobtainable.

  • John N Crisp 29th April 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Someone phone the Drug Squad, this man is wired up to a sausage roll

  • J Alan Campbell 29th April 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Malcolm Hurleston has come up with a pathetic and out of touch with reality suggestion. From my experience the problem has been across the board with home owners remortgaging to clear too easily obtained credit cards etc. By his reasoning anybody requiring a mortgage at all should also sit an exam or a refresher! I am having home improvements carried out at the moment, should I have taken an exam to understand the implications of this. Lets face it there are more problems caused by cowboy builders than IFAs but there is no regulation for them or their clients. Please return to the real world as soon as possible.

  • Katie Tucker 29th April 2010 at 10:54 am

    What we’re missing is decent education at schools.
    A good grasp of maths is all that is required to manage debt and income.
    There are changes afoot in the curriculum to teach credit knowledge as part of the ‘social studies/ home economics’ course for teens.

  • Ken Crawley 29th April 2010 at 9:46 am

    I had to look at the date again to see whether it was April the 1st.
    What a ludicrous idea to even think it, let alone say it!!

  • Iain. 29th April 2010 at 9:44 am

    I wonder what happens if you fail your home ownership test? Can you keep on re-taking it until you pass, or do you have to live under canvas for the rest or your existence? And…what happens if you fail to own a home with due care and attention. Is your ownership license removed and you have to move out?
    Will there be a points system for ownership offences….failing to put out rthe rubbish, failing to keep the windows clean, etc, and can you be sent to prison for being drunk in charge of a semi-detached bungalow? (I haveconmmitted this offence…frequently!).
    But finally here’s a good test for this scheme……could you get any politician to stand for election next week on a platform of ‘Tests for Home Owners’…no , I thought not. (Sorry Gordon…too late!)

  • Jonathan Burridge 29th April 2010 at 9:35 am

    I think in this day and age of hidden dangers these sorts of initiatives should be supported thoroughly, might I also offer some other suitably sensible and well thought out suggestions; a theoretical sexual activity exam and a ban on practical unless the prospective partipants are able to produce their completion certificate. Walking also carries many hazzards, so might I suggest a similar style exam and the issuance of “foot discs” to be worn by all when using the public footpaths with heavy penalties for those walking without qualification or displaying their valid disc. It has been know for people to suffer injury whilst eating, even death, so a “Cutlury Certificate” and “Consumption Certificate” could reduce these dangers. I also think we have come quite rude and disrespectful, especailly when we Brits are abroad, and a “polite and nice” qualification should be earned before passports are issued.

  • James Briggs 29th April 2010 at 9:25 am

    It’s true that there needs to be more education about how young people should manage their finances.
    However, the suggestion that FTB’s should be sold a licence is madness, and sounds like somthing from a dictatorship.

  • Roger Paintin 29th April 2010 at 8:31 am

    Is this guy for real!!

  • Ian Batchelor 28th April 2010 at 8:21 pm

    He is absolutely right. No homebuyer should enter into the concept of buying a home if they do not understand what they are getting into: the best people to do the educating are qualified, principled financial advisers!!!

    The pass certificate would be the mortgage offer – or no mortagge offer.

    This is the best arguement for a strong IFA profession I have heard for a long, long time.

  • Dan McGeehan 28th April 2010 at 7:33 pm

    The vast majority of people have got into trouble by the freely available unsecured credit that was given out carte blanche by the banks and other financial institutions. Very few people have got into trouble soley as a result of getting on the property ladder and certainly not as a result of advice from brokers. The idea of an exam that stop certain segments of the population getting a mortgage is amongst dumbest idea I have heard.

  • Tom IFA 28th April 2010 at 6:09 pm

    What a NUTTER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    He will probably soon be where the other quango running barkers end up The House of Lords!

  • David 28th April 2010 at 6:03 pm

    I just checked the calender to see if it was the 1st of April!

    Tell this guy to get a life, as if there are not enough problems this brain donor wants to add another tier of beurocracy. I’ll do him a deal, I won’t try and run a Charity if he promises not to pontificate on Financial Services

  • Ian Morgan 28th April 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I read this article and thought it was so stupid I would have to comment, but the previous people have said it all. People make choices and if they feel they need more information then they look for it. Isn’t that better than a self appointed group or QUANGO, telling us they know better.

  • Dermot Brannigan 28th April 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Is this guy Nick Clegg is disguise? Just let the market decide. Home ownership is not a right. Tenants build up debts too and people have to take responsibility for themselves.
    So what will the penalty be if you pass this exam, buy your own home and still get into trouble with your debts?
    Still, its a great way of creating more civil service jobs to monitor it all. Just what we need right now!

  • Roland Millward 28th April 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Oh what a Nanny world we live in. Yes. IT IS ALWAYS SOMEBODY ELSE’S FAULT!
    To make sure that it is isn’t lets set exams! Can we not let people decide for themselves how they spend their money or live their life? Whether the decision to buy a home is good or bad you will never really know until things happen that sometimes people have no control over or sadly they make mistakes. It is called life!

  • Jon Lord 28th April 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Wake up Malcolm…
    What next a licence to give birth!

  • Alex Smith 28th April 2010 at 5:39 pm

    I can see it now….

    FTB: I would like to get a mortgage please
    Broker: OK, have you got your H.O.C?
    FTB: Oh yes, I got 95% which is a distiction
    Broker: Great, fistly we need to get you a DIP and then you can view some properties. Oh, and don’t forget to read through the HIP before putting an offer in.

    And which lender is selling first time buyer mortgages with pretty ribbons and tax breaks?

  • Keith 28th April 2010 at 5:36 pm

    A step in the right direction? For too long it has been TOTALLY our (the adviser’s) fault if it goes pearshaped – the FSA taking Caveat Venditor to the extreme – bring back Caveat Emptor!

  • Roger Easter 28th April 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Is this man living in the real world. Will I have to sit an exam when I next go to hospital to see a Consultant to make sure I understand what treatment I am likely to undego? This regretably is symptomatic with our society as a whole at the moment.

  • Tom Cleary 28th April 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Can we get Malcolm Hurlston to sit an exam to see if he is in possession of all of his mental faculties? This is the craziest suggestion I have ever heard…

  • Paul 28th April 2010 at 5:27 pm

    What a ridiculous idea. What about second time buyers. Maybe they were prudent with a starter home and are about to embark on a 5x income mortgage. Surely this too would be risky? Lets also have an exam for anybody purchasing a car, or for that matter about to pay more for the weekly shopping than usual. We are not America. Our mortgage industry is regulated and as such does not require more nannying. ‘I am sorry Mr and Mrs X, you can’t have a mortgage as you have not passed the exam. why don’t you rent and pay more than any mortgage you cannot have?’ Anybody fancy saying this to a client?