Business

One in five southern mortgages in arrears

ALMOST 100,000 struggling homeowners in the Republic are more than 90 days behind with their mortgage payments.

As the state's chronic mortgage arrears crisis continues to spiral out of control, the Central Bank found just shy of a fifth of all residential accounts were in some form of arrears.

The number of homeowners saddled with more than three months of mortgage debt at the end of September rose to 99,189 - up 1,315 from the second quarter of the year.

The total number of residential mortgage accounts in arrears dropped from 142,892 in June to 141, 520 at the end of September.

That accounts for 18.4 per cent of all residential mortgages in the Republic. The outstanding balance on those accounts also fell by 0.5 per cent.

This was the first decrease since the Central Bank's series of mortgage arrears and repossession statistics began.

It said the hike in the number of arrears of 90 days or more was driven entirely by accounts with debts exceeding two years.

Of those struggling 99,189 account holders, 59,844 were in longer-term arrears of more than 360 days, while 22.5 per cent of all accounts in arrears were more than two years behind with their payments.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said he recognised the difficulties of getting out of long-term debt.

"Clearly, those who are in longer-term arrears are in a difficult situation," he said.

"It's going to take a greater degree of effort for those arrears problems to be resolved, but we are making progress on it."

He said banks were working hard to offer sustainable solutions to help struggling borrowers get back on their feet, and noted the number of mortgages that were restructured in the third quarter.

There was a total stock of 80,555 residential mortgage accounts classified as restructured at the end of September - a quarter-on-quarter increase of 1.5 per cent.

According to the Central Bank figures, 78.9 per cent of those accounts were deemed to be meeting the terms of their restructured arrangement.

"The solution is for engagement - engagement between the bank and the borrower so that a solution can be found as quickly as possible," Mr Gilmore said.

"That is the approach that the government is taking and that is the approach of the Central Bank."

Elsewhere, the number of accounts in early arrears - less than 90 days - dropped by 6 per cent during the third quarter, compared with a decrease of 3.3 per cent in the second.

There were a total 768,136 residential mortgage accounts for socalled principal dwellings in the state at the end of September to a value of € e 108.5 billion (390bn).

The outstanding balance on those accounts in more than 90 days of arrears was e 18.9 billion, around 17.4 per cent of the total outstanding balance.

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