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Numbers in 1-year home arrears soar

THOUSANDS of homeowners failed to make repayments on their mortgages last year and are now facing the prospect of repossession.

Close to 6,400 people stopped paying their mortgages for a period of 12 months or more.

This figure has jumped by more than three times the level it was a year ago.

The Financial Regulator has outlined that there are 791,000 residential mortgages outstanding in Ireland. More then 3pc of these have payments in arrears of three months or more.

However, new figures on residential mortgages outstanding in Ireland, obtained by credit ratings agency Moody's, reveal that some 0.8pc have not been paid for 360 days or more.

This means that 6,328 people are now almost certain to have their homes repossessed.

Last year, almost one home a day was repossessed from those who struggled to repay the debt.

Some 331 houses were repossessed last year, but end-of-year figures show that almost 1,000 new repossession orders were initiated in the High Court -- a 27pc increase on 2008.

Next month, Bank of Ireland and AIB will be able to begin new legal proceedings against homeowners who have failed to pay their mortgage for a year.

A moratorium agreed with the Government forced the banks to wait a year before starting legal action to repossess homes from those who failed to pay their mortgages.

And it was revealed that consumers will no longer be able to "cherry pick" lower mortgage rates, according to a top financial expert. Oliver Gilvarry of Dolmen stockbrokers said lending institutions are to "move at pretty much the same time" when applying expected mortgage rate hikes.