Pickles takes MMR worries to the top

Sarah Davidson

November 29, 2010

Fitzgerald, sales director of Brentwood-based broker Brentchase Financial, met Pickles on Friday 19th November for an hour and a quarter. Fitzgerald told the MP ultimately in charge of the mortgage market he feared the proposed regulation would lock millions of voters out of the housing market.

Fitzgerald said: “He assured me he’d put it in front of the right people within a week and low and behold Grant Shapps MP, the housing minister, said he wouldn’t have got a mortgage if the MMR was already in place.

“I told Eric exactly what I thought about the MMR and that the Financial Services Authority is fiddling with Key Facts Illustrations and Initial Disclosure Documents when the industry is burning.”

Fitzgerald argued in favour of self-certification mortgages, fast-track and interest-only mortgages and went to the meeting armed with statistics to back up his reasoning.

“We asked 100 self-cert and 100 prime clients about their mortgages and all the self-cert borrowers were still paying and a couple of the prime borrowers had gone into arrears because they’d been made redundant. It wasn’t self-cert that caused the recession.”

Pickles reportedly said to Fitzgerald: “What would you like me to do?”

Fitzgerald said more time was needed to think through regulation and see how the market recovered before making rash changes.

“I said we need this to be mentioned at the highest level in the Tory party and some form of sense has to be put into discussions on the MMR,” said Fitzgerald. “I don’t want to say the FSA is stupid, but I do want to slow the whole thing down and see how things pan out in the market next year.”

Following Fitzgerald’s meeting, housing minister Grant Shapps MP, said at last week’s National House-Building Council conference: “I am absolutely clear about this. I think it was at the point when I realised that I wouldn’t have been able to get a mortgage if the MMR changes went through that I thought this might be a step too far.

“There’s no point closing the door after the horse has bolted. What we need is top level central regulation and not pernickity down in the dirt regulation and what you can and can’t do as a mortgage company.”

Fitzgerald has welcomed Shapps’ public acknowledgement of the potential damage the MMR could cause.

He said: “It was good to see that Grant Shapps is complaining about the MMR. I think we’re pushing now on an open door with MPs. If more brokers write to their MPs we might get somewhere with this. Let’s encourage our wives and children and friends to write to their MPs as well. It’s no use complaining, we need to use our democratic right to speak to MPs and lift industry out of the devastation it might face.”

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