Pragmatic action on mortgage debt needed

On Mar 7, the Central Bank published the latest statistics on residential mortgage arrears.

Nearly one-eighth of all mortgage-holders currently have trouble meeting their repayments.

That is roughly one in every 16 householders. Nearly half of all Irish 1.6m households have a mortgage.

By the end of 2012, nearly 94,500 mortgage accounts were over 90 days in arrears. That figure grew almost exponentially from just over 26,000 in September 2009.

Thus, the number of households in arrears has tended to double every 21 months. At that rate, over 90% of all mortgages could be in the red by the end of 2017.

Many households are struggling (on reduced wages) just to pay home heating bills. Kicking the mortgage problem down the road is not the solution.

The Government’s sheepish mantra is that “something has to be done”. It seems, however, that lenders are waiting for a change in the law to get tougher with borrowers.

A glut of repossessions on the market would only drive down house prices. The lending institutions would lose money significantly, while also trying to deal with a mountain of conveyancing paperwork. They should have the guts to cut their losses now.

Let them give a proportionate writedown to all borrowers. Let people keep their homes. We have suffered long enough.

Michael Mernagh

Carrigaline

Co Cork

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