THE Irish Mortgage Holders' Organisation (IMHO) has secured a written agreement from Allsop Space that it will not offer repossessed family homes for auction in cases where banks have failed in advance to strike an acceptable deal with the properties' former owners over their outstanding mortgage debt.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent following the conclusion of the deal last night, IMHO director David Hall said the commitment from Allsop would help to prevent the "unnecessary repossessions" while providing those who had to surrender their family homes with a "definitive outcome" that allowed them to move on with their lives.
Commenting on the importance of the deal, Mr Hall said: "It's hugely significant that two weeks after the banks were before the finance committee 15,000 repossession letters went out. We're saying there is a need for repossession, and some family homes will need to be repossessed and sold. But we're saying the system should be changed, and for those properties where it's agreed by advisers, the bank and the customer that the family home should be sold at auction or wherever; that prior to that auction, a full debt deal should be negotiated and an agreement reached with the bank."
Asked what kind of debt deal the IMHO expected to be reached by distressed borrowers with their banks before their homes could be repossessed and put up for auction, Mr Hall said: "Once the hammer comes down on the property, there needs to be a definitive outcome. For residential family homes, under no circumstances should any home be sold unless it's agreed by all parties that it needs to be sold in a voluntary manner and with a full deal done on the balance of the debt. There are circumstances, unfortunately, in the real world where family homes will need to be sold, but what we're saying is that there are more sustainable solutions."
Asked if the IMHO would seek a similar agreement from other estate agents and auctioneers, Mr Hall said: "We will be seeking an identical commitment from every single auctioneer throughout the country. We will be saying clearly that sales of repossessed family homes will only take place where everyone agrees that the property must be sold. It can only be done in our view when a deal has been done on the entire debt by consent. Only then can it be sold. We want the entire deal to be triggered at the moment the property is sold when it is done by agreement."
Mr Hall said in cases where that commitment was not forhcoming, the IMHO would publicly identify properties offered for auction where it believed that there had been a "reasonable alternative to repossession".
Contacted by the Sunday Independent and asked for comment on its agreement with the IMHO, Allsop Space director of auctions Robert Hoban said: "We've had detailed discussions with the Irish Mortgage Holders' Association and with David Hall and we've made a commitment not to sell any repossessed family homes defined as principal private residences. We understand the difficulties out there in the market and we understand that people have concerns. We as a firm don't have any interest in getting involved in those kind of sales. We're very sensitive about it."