Irish Financial Review

Tesco offers mortgages in the UK

Tesco Bank, part of the retailing giant that carries the same name has announced that it is to begin offering mortgages for the first time in the UK. Its foray into the mortgage world is likely to be as timid as an injured athlete returning to training for the first time. Conservative lending will be the order of the day.

The bank, which said it aimed to offer products for the “majority” of its supermarket customers is not going to be offering any mortgages to those with deposits less than 20%, in other words, 80% maximum loan-to-values. This will rule out much of the first time buyer market, where lower deposits tend to be the norm.

“This is a prudent place to start,” said David McCreadie, managing director of Tesco Bank. He acknowledged that Tesco bank currently had no plans to offer mortgages to first-time buyers with smaller deposits, even though he expressed confidence that Tesco Bank is planning a full service that would rival high street banks.

The range of mortgages include two-year, three-year and five-year fixed rates. Mortgage experts in the UK have questioned the Tesco Bank offers and claim they are so uncompetitive, it is unlikely that many consumers would ever end up taking the Tesco Bank loans out.

The entry of Tesco Bank into hard-core lending is likely to continue to be done on a step-by-step basis as the grocery giant learns the complexities and dangers associated with lending. However, it’s entry into the mortgage market should be an interesting exercise that is likely to closely watched by similar operators such as Sainsburys, who also promote their own ‘bank’ services.

Here in Ireland, it is probably safe to say that we are stuck with banks that we already have. With just two lenders, AIB and Bank of Ireland doing minimal levels of lending, other banks continue to lick their wounds on the banking sidelines. A return to mortgage lending is a while away, even if the property market begins to stage a meaningful recovery.

Evander Holyfield loses home to foreclosure

Evander Holyfield can again serve as a case study for every child in Ireland.

This month, Mr. Holyfield lost is 109-room home in the southern US state of Georgia to foreclosure.

In addition to losing his home,  Mr. Holyfield has taken to selling the boxing gloves from the heavyweight bout in which Mike Tyson bit off part of his ear, auctioning medals, championship belts and other memorabilia after losing his home to foreclosure.

Holyfield’s bronze medal from the 1984 Olympics also will be included in the sale,

Holyfield, 49, moved out of the sprawling 109-room mansion this month after it was sold for $7.5 million in a March foreclosure auction. According to newspaper reports, he owed more than $14 million on the house. He’s earned an estimated $250 million during his career.

His personal finances appear to be intotal  chaos and with a large child support bill that is estimated to be in arrears to the tune of several hundred thousand US dollars, Mr. Holyfield appears to have taken to literally selling the family silver (and gold…and bronze) to keep the bailiffs away.

While losing a home is sad, are 109 rooms really necessary? Or, if the bills mount, couldn’t Mr. Holyfield perhaps planned his personal finances a little better. For kids, his is a classic case is not what one OWNS, but what one OWES!

But back to Mr. Holyfield. The auction to sell off his personal possessions, his memorabilia will include over 20 pairs of fight-worn gloves, robes and trunks; championship rings and belts; and autographed posters, according to the release.

The auction, which has over 500 items, also includes parts of Holyfield’s life outside of boxing, including furniture, clothing, jewellery and his red 1962 Chevrolet Corvette.

The items will be sold in two sessions on Nov. 30. Bidders can participate in person, online or over telephone, according to the statement.

Debt takes no prisoners. The successful, the powerful, the gifted and even world champions cannot fight it off, especially when it gets out of control.

Rebates on health insurance as new laws take hold across US

Health insurance policy holders in the US have begun receiving rebates on their policies as part of the federal health care law or Obamacare.

The law requires insurers to give out annual rebates by Aug. 1, starting this year, if less than 80 percent of the premium dollars they collect go toward medical care.

As a result, insurers will pay out $1.1 billion this year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, with an average rebate of $151 per household. The highest average amounts are going to people in Vermont ($807 per family), Alaska ($622) and Alabama ($518). In some states such as New Mexico or Rhode Island, no rebates will be offered because all the insurers in those states met the 80/20 requirement.

Although the percentage of insurance companies that owe rebates this year is relatively small, about 14 percent, many giants of the industry are on the list. They include Aetna, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealthCare.

This being election year in the US, President Obama is highlighting the rebates as a tangible early benefit of the controversial legislation; on the day the Supreme Court upheld the law as constitutional last month, he said millions of Americans would see rebates because their insurance companies had “spent too much on things like administrative costs and C.E.O. bonuses, and not enough on your health care.”

But not everybody will be in luck when it comes to those juicy rebates.

Self-insured employers, which cover more than half the nation’s workers, are exempt from the new rule, as are Medicare (health care for those over 65 years of age) and Medicaid (health care for low-income families). That said, the new rules will benefit approximately 12.8 million people in the US. Many who buy coverage directly from insurers(including self-employed people) are receiving checks. But in most cases rebates are being sent to employers, who can choose to put them toward future premium costs instead of distributing them to workers.

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