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MORTGAGE UPDATE

One in three homeowners who have taken out a mortgage since 2004 now find themselves in negative equity, according to Central Bank figures, The Sunday Business Post reports. The Central Bank estimates around one in eight of all Irish households are in negative equity but the figures rise dramatically for those who took out their mortgages more recently. Around 21.6% of households who took out a mortgage since 2000 are now affected and the number swells to 33.3% of mortgages drawn down since 2004. The bank says a further 10% fall in house prices could push another 13% of homeowners who have taken out mortgages since 2004 into negative equity. However, some people who bought in this period still “hold significant buffers or housing equity”, with many households still having at least 25% positive equity in their home. The bank further said distressed mortgage books were “arguably the single greatest issue” facing Irish financial institutions. Meanwhile, The Sunday Times reports that the Central Bank has approved negative equity mortgages, clearing the way for people to carry any shortfall on their loans with them if they want to move house. However, the new arrangements will be confined to high earners and the bank has imposed strict conditions. Also, lending institutions will have to obtain prior approval from the bank, including the maximum amount of debt provided relative to borrowers’ incomes and the value of their properties.

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