Proportion of UK homeowner mortgages in arrears remains historically low

There were 71,590 UK homeowner mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of their outstanding balance in the third quarter of 2019, new UK Finance data revealed.

This represented 0.79% of all outstanding residential mortgages – 9% fewer than in the same quarter in 2018 - meaning the proportion of homeowner mortgages in arrears has remained at a historically low level, with most borrowers continuing to repay their mortgages in full and on time each month.

Within the total, UK Finance revealed there were 22,300 homeowner mortgages with more significant arrears – representing 10% or more of the outstanding balance – a proportion that was 8% fewer than in the same quarter of 2018.

Furthermore, the data showed there were 4,550 BTL mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance in the third quarter of 2019, 5% fewer than in the same quarter of the previous year, and representing just 0.23% of all outstanding BTL mortgages.

UK Finance said that within this total, there were 1,170 BTL mortgages with more significant arrears – representing 10% or more of the outstanding balance – a proportion that was 1% fewer than in the same quarter of the previous year.

Bluestone Mortgages managing director, Steve Seal, commented on the latest data: “It’s encouraging to see that mortgage arrears remain at historically low levels, but there’s no room for complacency.

“Many borrowers are still struggling to meet their monthly repayments, perhaps as a result of an unexpected life event, such as an illness or divorce. If a borrower misses just one regular payment, their credit score could suffer, impacting their eligibility for a remortgage on the high-street.

“For many borrowers, fear of being rejected for a remortgage means that at the end of their term, they’ll tick over to their lender’s SVR. These higher rate products represent a bigger monthly expenditure for borrowers, and further exacerbate their affordability problems – starting what in some cases becomes a vicious circle of financial hardship.

“Better signposting for these consumers is crucial. They do have other options available to them – but the issue is one of awareness. Specialist lenders, for example, understand that mortgage arrears are often the result of a one-off event, and can provide borrowers with personalised solutions that take their unique circumstances into account.

“For borrowers who are concerned about their repayments or mortgage eligibility, speaking to an adviser can provide them with the lifeline they need.”

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