Low repossession rate for south east homes during 2016, says mortgage company

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The number of houses repossessed across the south east of England during 2016 will be low if interest rate rises are further postponed as anticipated, according to a mortgage service company.

In its annual forecast, HML said that it expects a total of 1,323 repossessions – or 0.09% of all residential mortgages – to take place across the region during 2016.

HML has also predicted a second consecutive year of low repossession rates in 2016 for the UK as a whole (10,326 or 0.09%).

However, it also said that the threat to the UK steel industry could mean more repossessions in South Wales and other regions where jobs are at risk.

Andrew Jones, chief executive officer for HML, said: “Repossession is an extremely difficult time for any household, and HML works with mortgage providers to identify those at risk and provide support during times of financial difficulty.

“Another year of low repossession rates in the south east of England is welcome – but we shouldn’t ignore the prospect of big increases when interest rates eventually rise.

“Those hit hardest by other financial pressures such as unemployment are at particular risk, and if the UK steel industry deteriorates, we can sadly expect repossessions to increase in communities that are affected.”

The company said that it expected Northern Ireland to have the highest repossession rate (0.27%), with the South West and East Midlands having the lowest (0.06%).

HML’s figures vary significantly from those put forward by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) in December last year, which forecast a dramatic increase in repossessions (to 18,000).

HML says that the difference results largely from a change in expectations over the timing of interest rate rises, which the CML expected to take place in the second half of 2016, but is not now expected until 2017 at the earliest.

In September 2015, HML said that an interest rate rise would likely hit first-time buyers particularly hard, predicting 20,000 could fall into arrears if the base rate rose 1.5%.

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