By Kim Hawtrey (auth.)

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The housing finance system refers to the entire mechanism for gathering savings and funnelling them to purchasers. Through this mechanism, the housing finance architecture facilitates the effective demand for housing. It needs to do this efficiently. By improving the 26 The Financial Dimension 27 flexibility of the housing finance market, we enhance the efficiency of the housing market itself and lower the real cost of housing. By continually evolving and improving its performance, through innovating and refining its technological capability, the housing finance infrastructure can enhance flexibility in the market and make a material contribution to economic welfare.

28 Affordable Housing Finance At the retail level, a typical experience ran something like this. In 2005, a couple had already purchased a home, financed with a 30-year fixed-rate prime mortgage based on a sound credit history. A mortgage broker in town called one evening offering to refinance their loan, with a new product that promised to allow them the flexibility to choose from different payment options varying from one month to the next. What was not made clear was that this was a “negative amortization” loan, with a ballooning principal that buried the couple deeper into debt even as they thought that they were paying down their mortgage balance.

The credit crisis did not make it easier to access finance. Lenders tightened eligibility criteria to access loans and, house prices slumped; many people’s mortgages became “underwater”. Further analysis is provided in Chapters 4 through 6, where we show that housing stress remains a reality, even after the credit crisis. Economic costs of housing stress In the UK, the Cost-effectiveness in Housing Investment (CEHI) research program proposed the notion of the “exported” costs of inadequate housing.

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