The global credit crisis impacted Europe differently than the United States, and consumers there responded differently as well — especially when it came to credit card debt vs. mortgage debt.
In Europe, esoteric mortgages, including subprime — or nonconforming as it's called in Europe — never really took off despite the best marketing efforts.
And for the most part, defaults on European mortgages are relatively low, and securitization is gaining traction again, panelists at the American Securitization Forum
's mid-annual meeting in Washington, D.C., this week were quick to point out.
I can't say I agree with either of the above points. But I do think the concept of home ownership will never be quite as strong in Europe as it is in the United States. After living for nearly 10 years in Europe, I never once felt Europeans greatly respect their mortgages.
The results of the second European Credit Risk Survey shows a growing optimism among borrowers that credit performance is increasing. What is also increasing is apathy toward their mortgages.
The survey, conducted with the help of FICO
, finds "a shift in borrower payment hierarchies has been observed, with more than 40% of respondents reporting that consumers will pay their credit card ahead of other obligations, including their mortgage."
This could be attributed to Europeans liking financial institutions less and less. In the U.K., 77% cited greater mistrust with their banks.
"Bailouts of British banks have damaged consumer trust," said Mike Gordon, vice president and managing director of FICO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. "We are seeing a sustained effort by our clients to restore trust through customer charters and other means."
The percentage of respondents who expect mortgage delinquencies to remain the same or rise jumped from 69% in February’s survey to 84%.
Only 16% of respondents expect mortgage delinquencies to decrease somewhat.
Europeans, in short, think little of their mortgages. And, more and more, they would rather pay something besides their obligations to property.
Write to Jacob Gaffney
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