Drop in arrears and repossessions
The number of properties repossessed in 2016 fell by almost 25%, compared to the previous year, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).
The lender trade body said that last year’s total of 7,700 was the lowest number since 1982.
The number of repossession cases declined in the fourth quarter of 2016, as well as over the year as a whole. In the final three months of the year, 1,800 properties were repossessed, down from 1,900 in the preceding quarter and 2,200 in the final quarter of 2015.
Fall in arrears
The number of mortgages in arrears also fell by 7% last year, said the CML.
At the end of last year, there were 94,100 mortgages with arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance, a slight increase on the total of 93,300 at the end of the third quarter. But that compared to a total of 101,700 at the end of 2015.
In the buy-to-let sector, the number of mortgages in arrears was unchanged in the fourth quarter of last year, at 5,000, but 11% lower than at the end of 2015 (5,600). The number of buy-to-let properties repossessed in the final quarter of last year was unchanged, at 600, but lower than in the last three months of 2015 (700).
CML director general Paul Smee said: “It is encouraging to see another improvement in arrears and possessions during a year in which borrowers were clearly helped by the downward trend in mortgage rates.
“But customers do need to be ready for a time when the outlook may not be so benign, with pressure on real incomes increasing and as interest rates begin to move upwards again. As ever, borrowers who fear they may miss a payment should speak to their lender.”