UK home repossession levels stable in first quarter, CML reports

Home repossessions in the UK in the first quarter of 2012 amounted to 9,600, the same as in the first quarter of 2011, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reported today.

This puts a stop to the recent trend of year-on-year increases in repossessions, although the CML noted that such stability could be disrupted by continuing pressures on household finances, changes to welfare benefits and rising mortgage rates.

Repossessions in this year’s first quarter were higher than the 8,700 registered in the fourth quarter of 2011, but this is said to reflect normal seasonal patterns.

Previously the CML has forecast that repossessions in 2012 will number around 45,000 but the organisation now believes that this figure may be revised down when its updated housing market forecasts are published later in the year.

Seeking to reassure people who are having trouble meeting their mortgage payments, Paul Smee, CML director general, said that repossession is a last resort for lenders and the number of repossessions remains relatively low. “Anyone worried about their mortgage should be assured that lenders will try to help them get back on track, as long as this is a realistic prospect,” he added.

A separate report released today by the CML on the buy-to-let sector reveals that the number of buy-to-let mortgages in arrears fell slightly in the first quarter of 2012, and the arrears rate on buy-to-let mortgages continues to be lower than in the owner-occupied sector.

Conversely, the buy-to-let repossession rate is higher than in the owner-occupier sector, where the focus is on trying to keep home-owners in their homes. The repossession rate on buy-to-let properties has remained virtually unchanged for more than a year, standing at 0.12% in the first quarter of this year, compared with 0.08% in the owner-occupied sector.