Saturday 20 October 2018

Seamus Coffey: Those who can never pay back their mortgage need to be given a way out

The focus in recent weeks has been on the sovereign debt crisis that has now fully engulfed the eurozone. Ireland has its own debt problems with a public debt that continues to balloon as the crisis develops and a huge household debt overhang from the credit excesses in the previous decade.

On Friday the Financial Regulator released the latest quarterly update of the Mortgage Arrears and Repossessions Statistics. On first glance it makes for pretty grim reading but it is useful to dig into the numbers for principal primary residences in a little more detail. This will show that while the problem is serious it is not as catastrophic as some commentators are claiming.

At the end of September there were 773,420 residential mortgage loan accounts in Ireland with an aggregate balance of €114.4 billion outstanding. Of these 62,970 accounts were in arrears of 90 days or more. This is 8.1pc of the total number of loans but arrears make up 10.8pc of the total balances outstanding.

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