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Collaboration needed in Northern Ireland housing market – CML

  • 08/05/2015
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Collaboration needed in Northern Ireland housing market – CML
Northern Irish housing and mortgage markets would benefit from closer co-operation between lenders and firms which provide arrears, attendees at the CML conference in Belfast were told.

The call for better collaboration came from Jay Colville, area director Northern Ireland for Nationwide, and Ursula Toner, legal advice and support service manager at Housing Rights Service.

The number of cases of possession in Northern Ireland have declined but consumer groups believe that earlier engagement with borrowers in difficulty could deliver further improvements.

The housing executive’s review 2014/2015, reported that the number of writs and summonses related to mortgages rose sharply between 2007/08 and 2008/09 to 3,894 and then remained fairly static at 3,500 for the next three years.

These rose again in 2012/13 to 3,854, and while only a small proportion of actions for possession turned into actual possession orders, the numbers are an indication of the affordability strains placed on borrowers.

Negative equity is still one of the biggest problems facing Northern Ireland’s homeowners. The conference heard calls from speakers for a government focus on finding solutions for borrowers in negative equity, a circumstance preventing them from managing career and life changes because they are unable to sell their properties.

House prices in Northern Ireland, however, have started to rise and outperform Scotland, England and Wales.

Research from the Office of National Statistics in April revealed that Northern Ireland saw a 14.2% rise in values while prices in England rose 7.4%. The price of Scottish homes rose by 6.4%, while those in Wales achieved a slight price increase of 1.1%.

But the housing executive review reported that average house prices in Northern Ireland remained almost 50% lower than their peak in 2007.

Construction at the end of last year was still more than 40% below its peak in Northern Ireland.

The conference discussed the need for more house building in Northern Ireland.

Many construction firms based in Northern Ireland earn much of their revenue elsewhere and there continued to be a skills shortage, it was said.

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