Young homeowners take advantage of cheap mortgage deals

For sale signsYoung homeowners have taken advantage of cheap mortgage deals to "dramatically improve" their household budgets, a charity has found.

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) said the number of homeowners it had seen aged in their 20s with mortgage arrears problems had almost halved in the past two years, amid record low interest rates which had made payments more affordable.
The charity said it dealt with 816 people in this age group who were in mortgage arrears in 2011, compared with 1,344 in this situation in 2009.

It said that low interest rates had meant the typical monthly mortgage payments for homeowners it dealt with aged in their 20s had decreased from £543.92 in 2009 to £471.61 in 2011.

The CCCS said that twenty-something homeowners had seen a "dramatic improvement" in their household budgets, which had gone from a deficit of £15.02 in 2009 to a surplus of £63.42 on average by 2011, despite high living costs generally.

But the charity expected many people to "buckle under the pressure" if interest rates rose, as they continue to deal with tough employment conditions. A recent spate of lenders have been raising their mortgage rates, with further increases expected to follow.

A study from Halifax in January found that mortgage payments for new borrowers had reached their most affordable levels for 14 years.

Average mortgage payments for new borrowers stood at 27% of disposable earnings in the fourth quarter of 2011, the lowest share since spring 1997 when a 26% proportion was recorded, and well below the 37% average over the past 27 years.

But Halifax was one of several lenders who raised their mortgage rates last month, blaming the weak economy and the increased cost of funding a mortgage. The move by lenders affected more than a million borrowers in total.

Delroy Corinaldi of CCCS said: "While many young adults are struggling to get on the property ladder, the outlook is more positive for those that are already on it. Nevertheless, this is not a time for complacency as there are multiple pressures attacking their ability to pay their mortgage and many will buckle under the pressure of rising interest rates."
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