Saturday 26 May 2018

Negative-equity struggle requires urgent attention

Ignoring the effect of large debt crisis means more families fighting to stay in their homes, writes Carol Hunt

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Carol Hunt

Carol Hunt

Negative equity, debt and depression: First of all let me say that you are absolutely right. When compared with the threat of homelessness, people whose homes remain stuck in negative equity should have little to complain of.

Last week a report from ratings agency Standard & Poor's showed that, a decade after house prices peaked, some 43pc of mortgages are still in negative equity. But at least they have somewhere to live, a roof over their head. Compare that to the 200 new families who became officially homeless in the first two months of this year and the many thousands already in temporary accommodation. And, as official wisdom goes, unless people in negative equity are planning on moving house (a luxury they shouldn't even consider), sure what's the problem?

Admittedly, the housing crisis has been - and continues to be - so shocking we have forgotten that many Irish families cannot sell their homes because they are currently worth less than the mortgage they owe the banks on them. Sometimes I even forget it myself, although some months when there is feck all left after the massively inflated 2007 mortgage is paid with seriously deflated 2016 wages, I wistfully think of a faraway future when every penny earned doesn't go straight to the mortgage. Yes, in the interests of transparency, any time I have written about negative equity I have always made it clear that, as one of those who bought a family home at the height of the market, I am affected.

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