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An Unlikely New Mortgage Market

Jun 14, 2008
Much has been written about the sub prime mortgage crisis in the US and even more has been said. Most analysts placed the blame for the implosion in the credit market on the adverse credit mortgage. This is a type of home loan that is issued to a borrower with a less than impressive credit history and financial resume. However there is another factor which may have been overlooked. This same factor may be about to spur a mortgage bonanza in the least likely of places - Africa.

In addition to issues billions of pounds of mortgages to people who had little chance of repaying them, the increased liquidity in the financial markets is mostly to blame for the current sub prime crisis. Banks and other financial institutions were simply too cashed up in the late 1990s and early 2000s and lowered their lending standards accordingly. Lenders had so much money they were almost forced to dream up new products to market to home owners and first time buyers in a marketplace that was already at full capacity.

This is why lenders eventually got to a stage in which they began to approve adverse credit mortgage products to just about anybody who applied. They weren't the only product available at the time and although they may have been the trigger for the collapse in the financial markets they were not the only contributor.

This excessive liquidity is currently being experienced by several of the biggest banks in sub-Saharan Africa. While this market is tiny in comparison to Europe and the USA some of the factors which were prevalent in those markets ten years ago are emerging in several African nations today. This is opening up the prospect that Africa may be about to experience a small boom in their mortgage market.

Unlike the European and US markets, however, the African home loan market is far from overcrowded. A minority of the population have a bank account or use any type of banking facility at all let alone have a mortgage. The home loan market is exclusive and usually only available to the elite but there is a growing middle class demographic with an appetite for home ownership.

It is also unlikely that African banks will be developing adverse credit mortgage products similar to their Western counterparts. This is largely because many Africans simply do not have a credit history and therefore do not have impairments to their credit files. Instead, home loans are issued only to workers who are paid a salary and who have stable jobs. It is common in Africa for lenders to be paid their monthly mortgage repayments directly from the borrower's employers instead of from the borrower's bank accounts. This helps reduce risks to the lenders and as a reward the borrowers are often granted lower interest rates.

In the wake of the adverse credit mortgage crisis an unlikely beneficiary may therefore be Africa as lenders are increasingly looking for new markets to conquer for profit. It will be many years before the Western home loan market are fully repaired so it could be Africa's time to shine.
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