Belfast Telegraph

Lukewarm reception to new property database

A NEW national property database which will give banks an overview about the financial circumstances of mortgage customers in Northern Ireland has received a mixed reception.

Credit agency Experian has launched the National Property Database - a new service providing key details of each of the 24m properties across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It will use a combination of estate agent information, surveyor data and land registry records to provide property valuations and details of property type.

Siobhan McAleer, managing director of The Mortgage Shop, said that while the database would be beneficial to some within the industry the benefits to the consumer would be much less.

"The new property database could prove useful for mortgage lenders in particular, providing them with some reassurance as to the value of a particular property and enabling them to adopt a belt and braces approach when considering an application," she said.

"It could also potentially save lenders and brokers alike some time when researching the value of a property, with all the information required at the click of a mouse rather than having to source it manually.

"Aside from that, however, I'm not entirely convinced as to its use and can't see it making any significant difference to the consumer."

Paddy Gray, Professor of Housing at the University of Ulster, said that while the database will be excellent in providing information on all properties in the UK it could lead to problems for existing customers.

"It is useful to have accurate up to date information so that financial institutions don't ever go down the route again of sub prime lending which contributed to the collapse of the housing market in 2007 and left people with loans that they couldn't afford leading to many repossessions," he said.

"I would worry, however, that some institutions may use the information to reassess loans that have been given to existing customers and use this as a means of increasing interest rates on those who high loan to value ratios or those who are in negative equity.

"This could put further pressure on the most vulnerable and could lead to increased homelessness through repossessions.

"Financial institutions must act responsibly to both new and existing customers."