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Mortgage arrears fall in second quarter

Paul Smee

The number of mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance declined to 88,200 in the second quarter of this year, according to research from UK Finance.

This represented the lowest level reached since at least 1994 when this run of data began.

The total was 5% lower than in the first quarter (92,600) and amounted to 0.8% of the more than 11 million mortgages outstanding in the UK.

The second quarter also saw a fall in the number of mortgages across all arrears bands, including those with the highest level of arrears.

In the same period, the number of mortgages with arrears of 10% or more of the outstanding balance totalled 25,200, down 5% from the 26,500 recorded in the preceding quarter.

This marked an end to a period of five successive quarters in which the figure had edged upwards from 23,400 in Q1 2016.

Chart 1: Arrears on mortgages, 2.5% or more of balance outstanding (provided by UK Finance)

UK Finance chart 1

In Q2 2017, the number of properties taken into possession also declined, from 1,900 to 1,800 (accounting for 0.02% of all mortgages).

The figure was the same as in the final quarter of 2016, and it’s the lowest figure since quarterly data was first published in 2008.

Chart 2: Number of repossessions, owner-occupied and buy-to-let markets (provided by UK Finance)

UK Finance chart 2

Paul Smee, head of mortgages at UK Finance (pictured above), said: “These figures show that the overwhelming majority of borrowers are managing their mortgage payments successfully, and many of those who have experienced some difficulty in the past are able to recover their financial position. 

“The recent improvement in the number of mortgages with high levels of arrears is particularly welcome.

"Borrowers are being helped by low interest rates, but mortgage costs are certain to rise at some stage.

“It is important, therefore, for customers to plan ahead and consider how their finances would be affected in those circumstances. 

“As ever, lenders will continue to help borrowers resolve any financial difficulty if possible, so customers should not hesitate to contact their lender if they anticipate any payment problems."

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