One in ten mortgages in Ireland now in arrearsGoogle Images

Thousands of Irish people are at risk of losing homes as more people fall behind on mortgage payments.

Newly released figures from the Financial Regulator show that over 32,000 Irish homeowners have not paid their mortgage in the past three months or more.

These figures show an increase of 4,000 people since the end of last year.

However, mortgage experts have warned that the numbers are likely to be worse than the figures stated.

The figures released by the Financial Regulator do not include mortgage holders that have negotiated a reduction of mortgage payments from their lenders.
 
Many mortgage holders have agreed to take a "payment holiday" or only pay interest on their loan as a means to reduce payments temporarily.

Members of the public have called on the Government to establish a "NAMA for the little people."

NAMA was set up by the Government to buy large toxic loans from banks as part of a banking bailout.

However experts say such a move from the Government would be highly unlikely as the "little NAMA" could cost the taxpayer an extra $185 billion on top of Ireland's already outstanding national debt of $180 billion.

Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield warned that there would be no bailout for struggling householders.
"I can say now that there is no silver bullet solution for mortgage arrears," said Elderfield.

Elderfield has heavily criticized the banks attempting to get people to give up their good value tracker mortgages in return for lenders to stop repayments temporarily.

Many of the 32,000 mortgage holders have not made a repayment for over a year. It has been revealed that many of the mortgages are from sub prime lenders such as, Start Mortgages and Springboard.

The sub prime lenders often charge interest rates of 7 percent, which is double that of other lenders.

A person on an average mortgage of $370,000 would have to pay $5,000 in arrears if they do not pay their mortgage for three months.

"In seeking to assist households in difficulty, we need to recognize that the cost of any support will be borne by (their) neighbors," said Elderfield.

He added that those neighbors had "avoided excessive borrowing themselves or are gritting their teeth and meeting their obligations".
Director of the Free Legal Advice Centers, Noeline Blackwell, was surprised at the nature of Elderfield’s comments.

"It is, admittedly, difficult to find solutions to the complex problem of mortgage arrears. What is needed is a wide range of solutions to these very complex problems."