CML: Repossessions down 25% in 2016, but set to rise

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Repossessions fell by nearly 25 per cent in 2016, but consumers should beware of a coming uptick caused by rising interest rates, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders

Last year saw 7,700 cases of possession compared with 10,200 in 2015, and was the lowest number since 1982.

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Over the course of 2016, the number of mortgages in arrears also fell by 7 per cent.

The number of possession 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 taken into possession, down from 1,900 in the preceding quarter and 2,200 in the final quarter of 2015.

CML director general Paul Smee says: “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. Lenders remain committed to helping borrowers work through any period of temporary payment difficulty and remain in their home wherever possible.”

The CML adds that making annual arrears comparisons can be tricky.

A CML statement says: ” The timing of some possessions last year may have been affected by a court case that caused lenders to review their processes.”