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News: Ireland ravaged by Repo fears

Thu, 17 Jan 08

Mortgage bills for Ulster homeowners are more than 20% higher than two years ago, according to new figures.

Findings from the Bank of England have sparked fears of rising repossessions among local home-owners and first-time buyers with 100% mortgages who bought during the province's property boom.

The Bank's figures show the average home-owner could pay up to £135 more a month for their mortgage (based on borrowing of £200,000) than last year as the effects of the credit crunch start to bite.  And official data from the Bank has revealed rising rates of interest on both mortgage repayments and credit cards last year, during a period when the base rate was unchanged.

Struggling to meet payments

Northern Ireland home-owners welcomed the Bank of England's decision in December to cut the base rate by a quarter of a per cent, with industry experts predicting more to come. But the news that borrowing has hit a three-year low following months of falling mortgage approvals has sparked fears of more homes being repossessed.

Last year the average house price in Northern Ireland rose to around £240,000, but with many first-time buyers opting for 100% mortgages, crippling interest rates could mean some people will struggle to meet monthly mortgage repayments.

Credit crunch hitting home

Louise Cuming, head of mortgages at Moneysupermarket.com, commented: "If you really get down and analyse figures, the typical standard variable rate is becoming less and less key. Fixed rates have hardly moved at all and some tracker rates have actually gone up. It is less and less pertinent what the MPC (Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England) do."

A spokesperson for the Council of Mortgage Lenders said: "Clearly the credit crunch is affecting the availability and pricing of loans and it may not always be possible for lenders to pass on base rate reductions. Unless a mortgage is tracking the base rate, the relationship between a mortgage rate and the base rate has never been automatic and now it is much less clear."

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