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NAMA yet to get EU nod for mortgages with negative equity protection

NAMA does not have the go-ahead from the European Commission for its "negative equity protected" mortgages, a full year after the scheme was first mooted, the Irish Independent has learned.

Last night a spokesman for the agency confirmed that the commission had not yet signed off on the plan.

Approval for the scheme is expected "imminently", the spokesman said -- but that has now been the case for a number of months.

It means the toxic debt agency is now certain to miss the latest planned launch date of early April for the scheme.

That time scale was set out by Finance Minister Michael Noonan in response to a Dail question last month.

It's the third major deadline slip since the scheme was originally announced.

The so-called NAMA mortgages are designed to coax nervous home buyers back into the property market. NAMA will agree in advance to write off up to 20pc of a home loan if house prices fall over the next five years.

Buyers

Under the plans, home buyers will take out a normal mortgage from Bank of Ireland, AIB or TSB to buy a home from NAMA.

The bad bank will defer being paid 20pc of the price for five years, and if house prices fall it will "forgive" part of the home loan. The bank would then recalculate the remaining mortgage for the buyer.

If house prices rise or stay the same, the full mortgage will have to be paid as normal.

NAMA wants to launch an initial pilot scheme with 750 homes, before rolling it out on a bigger scale.

The EU is understood to be considering the competition implications of the scheme. It has requested and received the Irish Competition Authority's opinion on the scheme, which is understood to have been favourable.

Plans for the 'NAMA mortgage' have been public since April 12, 2011, when NAMA chairman Frank Daly revealed initial plans for the scheme at a meeting of the Society of Chartered Surveyors in April 2011.

Irish Independent