Saturday 19 October 2019

Mortgage arrears grow to €6bn 'unfinished business'

Diarmuid Kelly: ‘The worst arrears cases appear to be very persistent’
Diarmuid Kelly: ‘The worst arrears cases appear to be very persistent’

Shawn Pogatchnik

The problem of mortgages falling into long-term arrears has grown to nearly €6bn, in what one analyst called a sign of "enormous unfinished business".

The total number of residential properties in mortgage arrears declined in the first quarter, but those mortgages mired in arrears lasting two years or more have kept climbing, particularly in the buy-to-let sector.

The Central Bank said the number of principal dwellings in long-term mortgage arrears had grown to represent 45pc of all such arrears cases by the end of March, up from 42pc in 2017. It said those mortgages have €2.4bn outstanding.

The Central Bank did report a headline improvement in the total number of mortgages in arrears. It said of the 726,089 mortgages for principal residences in Ireland, 62,834 were behind in payments, a 0.4pc quarterly reduction.

This marked the 22nd straight quarterly fall in arrears figures for principal home mortgages.

The buy-to-let figures kept worsening, with 19,671 of 111,665 BTL mortgages now in arrears.

Analysts warned that banks' efforts to remove struggling homeowners from the arrears statistics could be masking the true scale of defaults.

Meanwhile, a new analysis of the Property Price Register shows the extent to which the Greater Dublin area continues to dominate. Three out of four euro spent on residential property last year in Leinster.

The research, which was carried out by MyHome.ie, shows that sales in Leinster increased 3.7pc in 2018 to 33,722. With national sales at 56,836, sales in the province accounted for 59pc of the total.

Irish Independent

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