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Property repossessions fall sharply

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Figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show that the number of properties repossessed by lenders has fallen sharply in the past year.

The industry trade body reported that 8,000 mortgaged properties were taken into possession in the first three months of 2013, considerably down on the 9,600 recorded repossessions in the same period last year.

The CML said it anticipates around 35,000 repossessions to take place over this calendar year.

Arrears levels have also remained stable in the past year with 159,800 homeowners behind on repayments in the last quarter. This figure is flat year-on-year and represents 1.4% of all mortgages in the UK.

CML director-general Paul Smee commented: “Mortgage arrears and repossessions have stabilised at levels lower than many anticipated when the economic downturn started. Low interest rates, continuing employment, lender forbearance and tactical public policy support have combined to ensure that repossession really is a last resort.

“Anyone who is worried about their mortgage can be assured that, as long as they take steps early to address them, most problems can be contained. Lenders very much want to enable people to stay in their homes wherever they have sustainable prospects of getting their mortgage back on track.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, added: “The number of borrowers in arrears or having their home repossessed has stabilised as low interest rates and forbearance from lenders combine to keep many on an even keel.

“However, there are still tens of thousands of borrowers in arrears and thousands of homeowners losing their homes, signifying that all is not well. When interest rates are at historic lows and people are still struggling, it does not bode well for when rates inevitably start their ascent. Thankfully, that does not look likely to happen anytime soon.

“There is no room for complacency, however. Lenders must continue to show forbearance and be as flexible as they can.”

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