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'Overstated income by 30%': Liar loans continue to grow

Property Observer

Liar loan applications constituted alarmingly high volume in the second half of 2017 loan application, according to analysis of by the online property lender Tic:Toc Home Loans.

Analysis of the applications revealed about 20 per cent overstated their income, typically by around 30 per cent.

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Some 50 per cent of applications indicated their expenses were lower than the commonly accepted University of Melbourne Household Expenditure Measure, also by around 30 per cent.

The data was based on applications received since last July.

Salaries are often overstated by borrowers using a range of tactics, such as over-stating bonuses or, for variable income earners, using peak rather than average income.

The issue of exaggerating income and understating their spending comes despite the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority crack down on lenders’ assessment of borrowers’ genuine capacity to repay debt.

Tic:Toc uses Yodlee, a sophisticated, high tech gatekeeper that digitally validates borrowing power, credit checks, personal ID and all other financials.

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Anthony Baum, founder and chief executive, said the loan applications are generally representative of larger lenders in terms of location, borrower and loan size.

Baum told Fairfax Media in many cases applicants did not have to over-state their income for the required loan.

It targets buyers that have 20 per cent deposits with highly competitive rates and no lending fees.

Its loans  range from about $60,000 to $1.3 million.

The latest analysis was based on a smaller sample than UBS’s survey which highlighted concerns last September. The UBS survey of over 900 mortgage applications originated over the last 12 months revealed that about one third of home loans contained information that was not accurate.

Martin North, principal of Digital Finance Analytics, an independent consultancy, recently noted standards had slipped because of lenders’ readiness to “jump over backwards” to increase business.

North added the government’s widely used ‘Household Expenditure Measure’, which uses family size, location and lifestyle to estimate living expenses, was “very low”, particularly for high costs cities like Sydney and Melbourne.

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Wayne Byers, the APRA chairman, has requested lenders collect more realistic living expenses from borrowers.

UBS estimated $500 billion of home loans were “liar loans”, the researchers, Jonathan Mott, Rachel Bentzvelen and George Tharenou wrote.