Saturday, November 30, 2013

Reporting the mortgage crisis

There are huge problems in relation to mortgage debt in Ireland and the issue is deservedly a front-page story.  But sometimes the headlines are hugely out of the proportion to the problems we face.  Here are two recent front-pages from the Irish Examiner.

The Headlines

Today’s paper has a story under the headline:

“25,000 lose ownership of their homes in six months as banks tackle arrears”

and about two months ago the paper’s lead story had the headline:

“One-third of home loans are two years in arrears”. 

Both front pages are reproduced below the fold.

The Reality

In the six months from April to September 2013 there were 139 forced repossessions of primary dwellings homes and 293 cases where owner voluntarily surrender possession.  The headline is out by a factor of 60 and is reflective of a misleading statement in the opening paragraph:

More than 25,000 people who were in arrears lost their homes between April and September, according to the latest figures from the Central Bank.

The latest mortgage arrears statistics from the Central Bank show that 31,834 mortgage accounts out of a total of 768,138 accounts are in arrears of two years or more.  This is 4.1 percent of the total (at the time of the article the figure was 3.8 percent).  The headline is out by a factor of eight.  To be fair the claim in the headline is not part of the article.

Today’s Irish Times details a survey which shows massive differences between public opinion and facts.  Judging by these front pages it is not difficult to see how such perceptions get a foothold.

Irish examiner 30-11-13

Irish examiner 02-10-13

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