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Bank of England committee flags up house price growth concerns
Financial policy committee ‘concerned about potential risks to financial stability’ from possible housing bubble after latest house price growth.
The Bank of England is continuing to closely monitor the affordability of mortgages and the lending policies of banks after taking steps last week to cool house price growth.
The record of the November meeting of the financial policy committee, set up inside Threadneedle Street to spot bubbles in the financial system, shows that concerns about the housing market had risen since their last meeting in June.
“Committee members had become more concerned about the potential risks to financial stability that might arise from developments in the UK housing market,” the record said.
After the meeting the Bank announced last week that the flagship Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), which supplies cheaper money to banks and building societies, would end a year early for mortgages to focus on small businesses.
The record of the meeting shows that Bank of England governor Mark Carney informed the committee – made of Bank of officials and external members – that he and the Treasury had agreed to amend the FLS to focus on business lending.
“The governor informed the committee that HM Treasury and the Bank agreed that an amendment to the FLS to remove the incentive for new lending to households would be sensible … committee members welcomed this,” the record states.
The FPC, a key element of the coalition’s regulatory changes to avert another financial crisis, also discussed other options to dampen the mortgage market and house price growth
by forcing banks to hold more capital. This could be done “to specific types of mortgage lending, just to new lending or to the entire portfolio of loans”.
It could also take action if it was concerned about the affordability of mortgages by limiting the loan-to-value or loan-to-income ratios for mortgages.
“The committee agreed that it would closely monitor housing market indicators covering house price affordability and sustainability, indicators of indebtedness, underwriting stands, exposures of lenders to highly indebted households and the reliance of lenders on short-term wholesale funding,” the record said.
It also noted that borrowers might start to switch to fixed rate mortgages which, while helping households when interest rates rise, could cause problems for banks.
Post courtesy of The Guardian.