House prices are rising again. Oh wait a minute, they’ve still got 17 per cent to fall. Ah, but we’re alright because a ‘survey of estate agents’ has told us they are confident about the market again. (Who’d have thought?). Property and personal finance correspondents must be getting giddy by now as ratings agencies, building societies, the Land Registry and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors continue to churn out their daily contradictory housing market research.
But just as we were getting bored of the ‘are they or aren’t they’ debate, the regulator this week announced its latest initiative to prevent a re-run of the irresponsible lending that fuelled a large part of this decade’s housing market boom.
As part of its mortgage market review the FSA has proposed that mortgage applicants must disclose exactly what they spend in a typical week when they apply for a mortgage. And yes, that includes admitting to how many pints of beer you drink on a Friday night.Now I’m not afraid to tell my mortgage lender how much I spend on shoes and wine – and thankfully I haven’t taken up smoking since I last applied for a mortgage – but it’s hardly a carrot for those all important buyers trying to get onto the housing ladder. Nor is it likely to revive the market by encouraging the banks and building societies to increase the number of home loans they offer – something that the government is trying to encourage. Sounds like another contradiction to me.But there’s mortar life than house prices.