UK housing market has deep problems, says BoE's Carney

Sat May 17, 2014 6:22pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - The British housing market has "deep, deep" structural problems which pose the biggest current risk to the economy, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has said in an interview.

"The issue around the housing market in the UK ... is there are not sufficient (numbers of) houses (being) built," he told Sky television.

In extracts of the interview released by Sky ahead of its full broadcast on Sunday, Carney noted that the number of large mortgages being approved is on the rise and said more houses needed to built in Britain.

"We're not going to build a single house at the Bank of England," he said. "We can't influence that.

"What we can influence ... is whether the banks are strong enough. Do they have enough capital against risk in the housing market?"

Carney said the Bank could also check lending procedures "so people can get mortgages if they can afford them but they won't if they can't."

"By reinforcing both of those, we can reduce the risk that comes from a housing market that has deep, deep structural problems."

Carney said there was evidence that large mortgages, where house-buyers are given loans up to four times their salaries, are on the rise again.

"We don't want to build up another big debt overhang that is going to hurt individuals and is very much going to slow the economy in the medium term," he said.   Continued...

A construction worker assembles metal frames at a housing development project in south London August 6, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning