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10:05:20 pm

'low-doc' Home Borrowers Hit By Rising Rates

Real estate

However, Fitch says self-employed borrowers have been hit hard, which has pushed arrears among prime low documentation loans to a record 3.97 per cent - slightly higher than the previous peak of mortgage delinquencies in this segment reached during the peak of the financial crisis in the December quarter of 2008. This is a category of loans where borrowers meet the usual lending criteria, but are unable to supply sufficient evidence of their regular income, often because they are self-employed or contract workers with fluctuating earnings. The associate director in Fitch's structured finance team James Zanesi says higher mortgage repayments appear to be hitting the self-employed sector much harder than employees. "The three consecutive cash rate hikes ending in May 2010 modestly affected Australian prime mortgage performance Australian low doc loans in the third quarter of 2010. Households have demonstrated some stability in spite of the higher mortgage payments," he said. "The most vulnerable borrowers, such as low-doc and self-employed borrowers, have experienced the worst performance, with the increase in mortgage payments having an impact on affordability." The very worst performance in the September quarter continued to be amongst the closest equivalent Australia has to subprime loans -'low-doc, non-conforming' borrowers. The arrears rate amongst this group was 18.94 per cent, although it makes up a relatively tiny proportion of Australian mortgages.
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The Australian Democrats 'jump the gun' on low doc loans

Australian Democrats housing spokesman David Collyer recently called for a Royal Commission into the Australian mortgage finance industry after evidence was given to the Senate Economics Committee on low doc loans. The committee was told borrower incomes and assets were regularly and systematically inflated to make loans appear appropriate and repayable when they were not. "Apart from confusing 'low doc' with 'sub-prime', the spokesperson has jumped the gun," Naylor said. While he supports the Senate inquiry, he said that a Royal Commission is not necessary because, for one to be called, "there would have to be massive evidence of systematic low doc fraud". "In our view and on the experience of our members who in the main are mortgage brokers (and comprise about 75 per cent of all mortgage brokers) there is no evidence of this," he said. Naylor said he believes the arrears rate for low doc loans has not performed "materially differently to prime loans", albeit at a rate which is slightly higher due to the greater risk associated with the low doc loans. "Had there been massive fraud it would be reasonable to expect the arrears rate to be going through the roof, and it is not," he said. According to Collyer, of the $14 billion worth of residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS) acquired by the Government since the global financial crisis (GFC), 10 per cent of these might be low doc loans.
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