Mortgage arrears and repossessions remain at ‘historically low’ levels

The number of home owners in arrears with their mortgage or having their house repossessed remained at low levels by long-term standards in the third quarter of this year, trade association UK Finance has said.

This is despite some mortgage rates edging up in recent months on the back of the rising Bank of England base rate.

UK Finance’s figures show that 1,080 home owner-mortgaged properties were repossessed in the third quarter of 2018, 19% down compared with the same quarter of last year.

Across the UK, there were 77,600 home owner mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance in the third quarter, 5% fewer than in the third quarter of 2017.

The number of home owners in the most severe arrears of 10% or more of the outstanding balance was broadly unchanged compared with a year earlier, UK Finance said.

Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said: “It is encouraging that home owner arrears and repossessions remain at historically low levels, which shows the vast majority of borrowers continue to repay their mortgages in full and on time each month.

“We would always encourage anyone with concerns about making their mortgage repayments to contact their lender to discuss the advice and support available.”

The figures also showed there were 4,660 buy-to-let mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance in the third quarter, 1% down on the same period last year.

The number in arrears of over 10% of the outstanding balance increased by 3%.

Some 500 buy-to-let mortgaged properties were repossessed in the third quarter of 2018, 17% fewer than in the third quarter of 2017.

Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said: “Encouragingly, mortgage arrears remain at historic lows. However, there is no room for complacency.

“We suspect that when it comes to their finances there are many people who don’t have a buffer to tide them over should they get into difficulty.”

He said borrowers should plan ahead and consider how they would cope with possible further interest rate rises, and fixed-rate mortgages could help with budgeting.

Mr Harris said struggling borrowers should talk to their lender and continued: “Lenders are being flexible and showing forbearance but it is much easier and less stressful to come up with solutions early on than further down the line when options may be much more limited.”

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