Questions on banks

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Questions on banks

Perth At 71, Linda Schmidt should be enjoying retirement. But for the past two years the Perth nurse has been crippled by debt, and fighting the banks. The loans cover her own home and, not one but 11, investment properties.

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Now she is faced with the prospect of losing her home. Growing mortgage stress has led to consumer advocates calling for the banking royal commission, which meets for public hearings in Melbourne on Tuesday, to examine irresponsible mortgage lending and the way banks assess whether loans are affordable.

Schmidt So, how did a woman in her late 60s on a nurse's salary manage to borrow so much money? Ms Schmidt started investing in property years ago as a way of earning a passive income.

At one point she had 14 investment properties, most of them serviced by interest-only loans with half a dozen different lenders. Her plan was to build a portfolio of investment properties and retire early — a strategy she had learned over years of attending wealth creation seminars.

It all seemed possible during WA's mining boom years. But then the downturn came and her properties became harder to rent. Today, instead of retiring early, Ms Schmidt is still working night shift as a nurse trying to service an enormous debt.

Many of her loans are thousands of dollars in arrears because she cannot meet the repayments. I'm so tired, I can't sleep," she said. ABC News chief economic correspondent Emma Alberici explains the commission's aims and the scope of the mission.

Questions on banks

She now sees how unrealistic her plan was. Now her payments are in arrears and Westpac is threatening to take possession of the property.

Ms Schmidt has taken her case to the Financial Ombudsman Service claiming the loan was unaffordable in the first place. She claims she only saw three pages of the loan application form which she signed. When she applied recently for the full form, she said she was shocked by its contents. Ms Schmidt claims the document overstated her assets, including her superannuation, and underestimated her existing debts.

Westpac said privacy provision meant that it could not discuss individual customer issues.

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Westpac has been in touch with the customer directly to offer hardship assistance and support at this time," it said a statement to 7. The case is currently before the ombudsman. From a cottage in WA's wheatbelt, veteran consumer advocate Denise Brailey is taking on the banks on behalf of distraught borrowers like Ms Schmidt.

The borrowers will either have to sell or switch to principal and interest. He predicts this, and falling demand from investors generally, will have a big impact on the market. Ms Schmidt does have some equity in at least two of her remaining properties.

But there will little left for retirement once all her debts are helps you find answers to your questions regarding national banks and federal savings associations.

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