Northern Ireland has highest rate of repossessions in UK
Cash-strapped families in Northern Ireland face a higher risk of losing their homes in 2016 than anywhere else in the UK, it has emerged.
The shocking revelation comes from the UK's leading mortgage service company HML, which said it expects a total of 887 repossessions this year alone.
That represents .27% of local residential mortgages and compares to a figure of .09% for the UK as a whole.
HML chief executive officer Andrew Jones said the local repossession rate was worrying: "It's a real concern that rates are so much higher in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK.
"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.
"Those hit hardest by other financial pressures, such as unemployment, are at particular risk and, although not expected this year, future interest rate rises will further increase repossessions."
HML is the only organisation to publish mortgage repossession forecasts broken down for the Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and English regions.
Figures provided by HML to the Belfast Telegraph reveal that 841 homes were repossessed here during 2015, down from a peak of 1,522 in 2013.
Mr Jones said that while the downward trend was an indication that the situation was improving, there was no room for complacency.
"A second consecutive year of comparatively low repossession rates for Northern Ireland by recent historical standards is in itself welcome, but it remains a concern that rates are so much higher than the rest of the UK, and we shouldn't ignore the prospect of big increases when interest rates eventually rise," he added.
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).
According to HML, that 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 which is not now expected until 2017 at the earliest.