Arrears down year-on-year

There were 9% fewer cases of homeowners being in arrears of more than 2.5% in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to the corresponding period in 2018.

It’s a similar story with those in serious arrears of more than 10% of the mortgage balance, as there were 9% fewer cases.

In all, there were 70,880 homeowners in arears of more than 2.5%, and 21,770 in arrears of more than 10%.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “With interest rates so low, one would hope that the vast majority of borrowers are managing to pay their mortgages in full and on time each month.

“The number of homeowners in arrears remains at historically low levels, and although the number of homes being repossessed has risen, UK Finance points out that this is from a very low base.

“Thankfully, lenders continue to show forbearance and flexibility towards many borrowers who are struggling with their mortgages. But it is important for anyone finding themselves in this position to keep their lender in the loop and seek independent financial advice as early as possible.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “These figures are interesting but not particularly surprising in view of subdued market conditions for most of last year and well before that.

“However, as the market slowly recovers it would not be surprising to see lenders taking a more proactive stance when it comes to repossessions as they will see, like the rest of us, that not only can the property in question be sold but possibly at a better price than they would have anticipated previously.”

There were 4,390 buy-to-let mortgages in arrears of 2.5 per cent or more of the outstanding balance in the fourth quarter of 2019, 7% fewer than in the same quarter of the previous year.

Within the total, there were 1,160 buy-to-let mortgages with more significant arrears, down 3% year-on-year.