Sunday, July 03, 2011

Why the nation has an interest in interest

THE metropolitan news hounds sleep easily every time a page on their desk calendar turns. They know they'll fill their bulletins and news pages easily because a powerful gang is just about to get together for coffee and bikkies in their capital-city boardroom.
Like clockwork, on the first Tuesday each month, Glenn Stevens and the gang chew the fat and pick the bones of the economic ups and downs.
The nation gets ready for the Reserve Bank board meeting with more reported forecasts than the average weather bulletin as analysts ponder what Governor Stevens and his lieutenants will decide to do with the nation's official interest rate.

ANY slight move behind that decimal point will provoke choruses of anguish or delight throughout the nation, just like a ripple from the breeze across Moreton Bay.
And in our bayside suburbs, many households are anxiously awaiting those 'terrible Tuesdays'. With the standard variable mortgage rate at 7.9 per cent, any rise can be a step closer to defaulting on repayments and 'losing the house'.
Lisa Johnston, of Alexandra Hills, is a keen interest-rate watcher. She has made a business of it.
Lisa Buys Your House offers options to mortgagors who cannot repay their their bank loans.

Using a system that is marketed nationally, Lisa has built a database of people who can take over payments on their way to finalising the deal and owning the title.
She said the system did not charge vendors fees or commissions and could save time because they did not need to search for buyers; deals could be finalised quickly if needed.
"I am like a matchmaker; I am not a real estate agent," she said. "I buy houses from people who can't sell them and find people who want them."
The buyers included investors and others who did not meet normal lending conditions or have the required deposit but could meet repayments, she said.
Lisa said her recent clients had included an Alexandra Hills woman whose marriage had broken up because of mortgage stress and who had a $380,000 debt, which was more than the property valuation.

A FAMILY with building skills had made improvements that increased the property value and gave them the equity to buy it.
Lisa said she received about 10 calls a week from householders suffering mortgage stress and about to lose their houses 'to the banks'; this week she had calls from Russell and Macleay Islands, Birkdale, Alexandra Hills and Cleveland.
Typically, such people had bought property at peak prices and had lost their equity as valuations dropped.
Lisa said her clients usually had debts between $400,000 and $500,000 but some owed a lot more.
Anyone with a $400,000 debt faced repayments of $700 a week at the current variable rate.

This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

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