In the third quarter of this year, new CML figures show that the number and proportion of mortgages in arrears both fell, despite the bleak economic backdrop. At the end of September 194,600 mortgages, 1.77% of the total, were in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding mortgage balance. This compares with 204,200 cases (1.86% of all mortgages) at the end of June.
Meanwhile 11,700 properties were taken into possession in the third quarter, up slightly from 11,400 in the previous quarter, and 5% higher than the number in the third quarter of 2008, but still lower than the 12,700 in the first quarter of the year. Around a quarter of the possessions in the third quarter of the year took place without a court order, very similar to the proportion in the previous quarter of the year.
Looking ahead, the CML has also published revised 2009 mortgage market forecasts and new forecasts for 2010. The expectation is of continuing slow recovery. The CML forecasts that:
* The number of housing transactions will reach 810,000 this year and 850,000 next year;
* Gross lending will total around £141billion this year and £150billion next year;
* Net lending will be modestly positive this year at £8billion (revised from a negative expectation of minus £5billion previously), and £15billion next year;
* Assuming interest rates remain at their current low levels, the number of mortgages 2.5% of balance or more in arrears will end the year at 195,000 (down from previous forecast of 360,000), and will rise only modestly next year to 205,000;
* The number of repossessions this year will total around 48,000 (0.43% of all mortgages) and around 53,000 (0.48%) next year.
CML director general Michael Coogan said: "We are glad to have been wrong on our previous forecast for mortgage repossessions this year. Low interest rates, and lenders’ forbearance policies, have helped to cushion many households facing financial problems. And although the economy is not out of the woods yet, we no longer expect a dramatic rise in properties being taken into possession unless interest rates rise from the low levels that most commentators now expect to persist for some time.
"Borrowers should take heart from the latest findings, as they reinforce the fact that lenders really do want to keep people in their homes – and are doing so.
"In terms of new lending next year, we expect a modest increase. But it is difficult to see the case for a dramatic upturn in the absence of significant improvement in the wider economic picture. There is a risk that public spending cuts and higher taxes could choke off recovery. So, although we have become more optimistic, we remain cautious about market prospects."
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