Thursday 23 November 2017

Mortgage arrears number rises as figure nears 100,000

Charlie Weston, Personal Finance Editor

LATEST figures are set to show another rise in mortgage arrears, despite banks being ordered to deal with homeowners behind on their payments.

But there has been a slowdown in the numbers getting behind on their repayments for the first time.

Figures to be issued by the Central Bank today are set to show that the total number of homeowners who are three months or more in arrears is within touching distance of the psychologically important 100,000 mark.

The data for the three months up to September will show that 99,200 homeowners are three months or more in arrears.

This is despite six domestic lenders being told by the Central Bank they will be penalised if they do not tackle the rapidly rising arrears problem.

All six banks were told by regulators to have sustainable solutions for 30pc of mortgages in arrears of more than 90 days on their books by the end of September, rising to 50pc by the end of the year, and 70pc by the end of next March.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said last week that the six domestic banks have met -- and in some cases exceeded -- the 30pc target on mortgage arrears solutions by the end of September.

But despite this, the number of residential mortgage holders in arrears across all lenders has climbed from 98,000 at the end of June to just short of 100,000 now.

However, regulators and Finance officials are set to take heart from the fact that the rate of increase in arrears is slowing down.

And the numbers who are less than three months behind on their payments is reducing dramatically. There were 42,300 residential mortgage holders who are less than 90 days in arrears in September -- down from 45,000 in June, and from more than 50,000 a year ago.

But the number of buy-to-let investors is also continuing to rise. There were 31,300 investor mortgages three months or more in arrears on repayments in September. This is up from a little more than 30,000.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dail there was a solution to every distressed mortgage case. But he warned homeowners to engage with their lenders.

Irish Independent

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