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Lenders to seize 2,500 NI homes this year

MORE than 2,500 people in the North are expected to have their homes repossessed in the coming year.

A total of 33,257 properties, the equivalent of 0.3pc of all homes with a mortgage, will be taken over by lenders across the UK during 2011, according to financial outsourcer HML.

Northern Ireland is expected to see the highest proportion of repossessions -- 2,540, representing 0.83pc of all loans.

HML, which analysed data on 320,000 UK mortgages, said repossessions were likely to fall in the first half of the year to 15,557, before rising to 17,700 during the second six months.

It added that repossessions looked set to continue rising in 2012, with between 35,000 and 40,000 more properties likely to be seized.

The group's forecast is lower than the Council of Mortgage Lenders' prediction that 40,000 homes will be repossessed this year. It is also below the 36,300 figure for last year.

Neil Warman, chief commercial and finance officer of HML, said: "Despite the challenging economic environment, the downward trend in repossessions we saw last year is set to continue for the first half of this year.

"However, repossessions will then begin to rise during the second half as a number of macro-economic factors start to impact on homeowners and influence lender behaviour.

"Of particular concern this year will be the impact of rising inflation and interest rates on hard-pressed homeowners and the effect of continuing job losses. However, these are unlikely to feed through into increased repossessions during the early part of this year."

Mr Warman added that increased financial pressure on borrowers who are in work, combined with the lagged impact of job losses for public sector workers and benefit cuts, were likely to lead to the continuing increase in repossessions.

In the Republic, there have been predictions that up to 15,000 people will end up facing legal action for repossession this year. Some 70,000 homeowners are already struggling to repay mortgages.

But the Irish Brokers' Association has predicted that there will be a surge in cases in 2011, as 13,000 people have not made repayments for a year or more.

In the three months to last September, banks initiated 210 repossession cases in the courts, according to figures from the Central Bank.

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