Just when you think, what will these crazy bankers think of next … and boom comes the latest financial instrument ready to stupefy you … with its sheer ingenuity and innovativeness.
This latest debt instrument I came to know recently from a friend in UK is the equity release. Lets take a case of a country home in the UK which has a bit of mortgage attached and the owner wishes to make some new purchases. The first condition of this instrument is that the owner has to be above 55 years of age and the value of the house needs to be higher than the mortgage value. This difference is called the Equity of the house … now private financial institutions will provide these house owners with a method to slowly sell their house for a part payment on that equity value.
What’s so great about this opportunity is that the house owners are not on the streets trying to sell the house directly. Take for example, this equity release from Age Partnership, the ownership will be transferred only after a long long time … until when the house owner has access to a ready pool of funds. With the minimum age requirement of 55, and the average age in UK rising to 78, this means that the house owner has typically a good 20-25 years access to this pool of funds, which otherwise would only be made accessible post the sale of the house.
Thus, finances which would have opened up very later … and mostly by the inheritors, are now suddenly available to the house owner itself. This is great news for elder citizens who are having a hard time trying to maintain a lifestyle. This instrument clearly benefits both the institution and the individuals … a win-win instrument. I wonder, does this idea seem as good as those CDO’s back in 2008.
PS – The problem of all such financial instruments is the same – lack of regulation. With this, we can be sure to see the same … without any overseeing authority to stop malpractice, rogue institutions will realize the loopholes in the system (or lack of one), and exploit this. Any system without regulation is bound to the same problems. So the CDO statement back there really is not fair, but it’s always a risk to consider!