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Credit history critical for home buyers

Jun 17 2011 13:23 I-Net Bridge

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Johannesburg - According to property financing company ooba, latest statistics from the Credit Bureau Monitor's 2010 fourth-quarter report show that only 53.3% of SA's credit active consumers are classified as "in good standing".

This is alarming, given that banks are adopting a conservative approach to lending and are scrutinising credit history as a preliminary step before even considering any bond applications.

The result is that credit rating is playing a more critical role in influencing the bond decline rate, said Carol Reynolds, Pam Golding Properties' area principal in Durban North and La Lucia.

"Essentially, the two key factors that will impact on a bond application are affordability and credit record. If an applicant does not have a clear record, this will adversely impact his/her chances of obtaining finance. It is therefore prudent for purchasers to clean up their credit profile before embarking upon house-hunting," she said.

Reynolds adds that the best way of upholding a favourable credit rating is to ensure all accounts have been paid timeously, and that any judgments have been rescinded.

A blacklisting can remain on a credit profile for two years, so the sooner accounts have been settled the better. It is also important to follow up with the relevant credit providers to check that records have been cleared post-settlement.

"Against this backdrop of conservative lending and deterioration in consumer credit records, it is not surprising that the residential property market has been slow to show any marked signs of recovery.

Three tools for buyers and sellers

"Indeed, while there have been sporadic bouts of activity, prices generally have remained flat, while the bond acceptance rate has only marginally improved.

"On the whole, we are noticing more activity in the affordable price brackets. However, this activity is being negatively impacted by poor credit profiles. Essentially, buyers may often be willing, but not necessarily able to obtain the requisite finance to pursue any transactions," said Reynolds.

As a result she recommends that prospective purchasers try to ensure they are deemed "A-grade" purchasers by virtue of the following three imperatives: a clear credit record; the ability to buy without having to sell first; and finally, a pre-qualification from a bank or mortgage originator.

"If buyers arm themselves with these three tools, they will be able to negotiate better prices on potential properties because sellers will be satisfied that they mean business."

The three sales drivers from a seller's perspective are price, calibre of purchaser and "cleanliness" of the terms of the offer. Pre-qualified buyers becomes highly sought-after, and if the purchaser is then able to offer clean and simple terms, price becomes more negotiable.

It is a simple case of both banks and sellers assessing the risk in the potential deal - the less risky the transaction, the greater the chance of it being accepted by the seller and financed by the bank.

Said Reynolds: "On a positive note, there is a sense that the latter half of 2011 may see renewed activity in the marketplace, but this must be viewed within the context of the lending climate.

"Strict lending continues to keep a lid on price inflation, and while the number of units sold may start increasing, it is unlikely that prices will follow suit." 

ooba  |  credit record  |  house prices
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