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Kevin Duffy on MORTGAGES

Here is the charge sheet.

First, the rampant house price inflation afflicting the UK. Sections of the press are intent on talking the market into a crash. Yes, in places, prices are up by 20 per cent on last year but what too few reporters outline is that the pace of month-on-month inflation has slowed considerably and is even in reverse across some regions. But why spoil a good story with a balanced commentary?

Second, there is the spectre of rampaging interest rates. It is probably a good thing that borrowers are cautioned over the potential perils of a 6 per cent base rate but surely the more onerous and topical story rests with spiralling credit card and personal loan debt and the unsatisfactory way in which this brand of debt is regulated and promoted?

Third, we have the concept of self-certification for the employed which even became a major TV serialisation. I find it ironic that two journalist clients of my own were allowed to buy their first homes only as a result of the assistance given them by Birmingham Midshires in this regard. Black pots and kettles spring to mind.

Fourth, there is the plight of the endowment holder. The weekend broadsheets continue to produce case study after case study highlighting the impact of shortfalls. In the first instance, caveat emptor applied on all these. But furthermore, shouldn&#39t journalists really be challenging the successive Governments and regulators who in an albeit high-inflationary cycle condoned growth projections at wildly ambitious levels? And why are compensation payments not being compulsorily redirected towards paying off the mortgages?

This brings me to my final point. Picking easy fights. Several journalists spend a disproportionate amount of time attacking insurance companies, fund managers and IFAs.

I am all for assaults on fat-cattery, improper marketing ploys, and financial fraud but too many pieces are vacuous and only serve to undermine public confidence in a profession which is world-class.

The UK faces three major challenges on the financial services agenda – getting financial planning on to school and university curricula, solving the shortage of affordable housing and challenging the Government to introduce worthwhile incentives for people to save for retirement.

Instead of chasing headlines which cast our profession in a dubious light, it is the reporting of what is not being done on these critical fronts which should be emptying the ink wells. But I am not holding my breath.

Kevin Duffy is managing director of Hamptons International Mortgages


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