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Mortgage defaults slow

THE number of mortgage-holders falling into default appears to be levelling off.

Figures released by ratings agency Moody's show that 3.24pc of residential mortgages backing bonds issued by financial institutions were in 90-day arrears in December -- down from 3.26pc the previous month.

The proportion of the loans in actual default also declined, from 0.82pc to 0.72pc.

Lender First Active had the highest rate of 90-day delinquencies in December at 4.8pc. Bank of Scotland (Ireland) had the next-highest 90-day default rate.

The Financial Regulator said just before Christmas that 26,271 homeowners were in arrears for 90 days or more.

The regulator said there were some 791,000 residential mortgages outstanding, with 3.3pc having arrears of 90 days or more in December.

Updated figures from the regulator are due out at the end of March.

Moody's said there was a notable difference when comparing the figures year-on-year.

The 90-day delinquency rates were 110pc higher in December than in the same month of 2008.

Defaults were up 167.1pc on the same basis, although the rate of annual increase in both cases was slower than in November.

Up to now, most lenders had to wait for only six months after the borrower got into arrears before taking legal action to repossess a home.