Think Money

Think Money

March 09, 2010 08:49 ET

Homeowners Should Act Fast on Mortgage Debts

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - March 9, 2010) - Responding to new statistics showing a slight increase in mortgage arrears in the final quarter of 2009 (compared with the same time in 2008), financial solutions company Think Money ( advised homeowners that they should continue to keep a careful eye on their finances and seek financial advice at the first sign of trouble.

The company said that homeowners who find themselves in arrears on their mortgage should speak with their lender about ways to improve the situation - and if that doesn't help, they should seek expert advice from an independent debt adviser.

A report from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) found that 188,300 mortgages ended the year with arrears equivalent to 2.5% or more of the remaining mortgage balance - lower than the estimated figure of 195,000, but still 3% higher than in the same period a year earlier.

However, the CML added that some borrowers with smaller arrears were being helped out of debt by low interest rates.

Despite the increase in arrears, the number of repossessions had actually declined. 10,200 properties were taken into possession in the final quarter of 2009 - 13% lower than in the third quarter, and 2% lower than the final quarter of 2008.

A debt expert at Think Money said that the statistics suggested mixed fortunes for homeowners.

"One the one hand, it's encouraging to see fewer repossessions at the end of 2009. This suggests that lenders are giving homeowners more time to get their finances back on track, and it may also suggest that more homeowners are getting help with their debts and finding debt solutions that can help.

"On the other hand, it is less positive to see a rise in mortgage arrears, and this highlights the fact that even though many areas of the economy appear to be improving, many people are still experiencing problems.

"It can often be a few months before homeowners in arrears realise they might need help with their finances, but it's important that they do not delay seeking advice and taking action as soon as they miss a payment - firstly by discussing their options with their lender, and if that doesn't help, they should speak with an independent debt adviser about what they can do."

The spokesperson added that in some cases, an informal arrangement with the lender for repaying their arrears could be enough to help - although those having more significant problems with their debt repayments might find that an alternative solution, such as a debt management plan, is more suitable.

"If the homeowner has multiple debts that they simply can't afford, a debt management plan could help them reduce their unsecured debt repayments to an affordable level, which could help them to meet their mortgage payments.

"There are a number of other debt solutions to help with various levels of debt, such as an IVA. Borrowers should always speak with a debt adviser before they make any decisions."

Notes to Editors

One of the UK's leading financial solutions providers, Think Money is based in Salford Quays, Manchester, and employs around 700 people to deliver a comprehensive range of debt, loan, insurance and banking solutions.

Think Money defines its mission as 'To educate, rehabilitate and advise on all aspects of financial management'.

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