Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The Ongoing Trickle of Repossessions

The latest mortgage arrears statistics from the Central Bank provide an update for the end of September (Q3) 2023. They show there continues to be a trickle of repossessions.

PDH Repossessions to Q3 2023 - AREA

During the third quarter of 2023, there were ten court-ordered repossessions and ten abandonments/voluntary surrenders of primary dwelling houses.  During 2023, court-ordered repossessions have been occurring at a rate of around one per week.

We are now also provided with a more complete breakdown of repossession activity.  The number of repossessions shown above can be broken down into those carried out by banks and non-banks. Non-banks include regulated lenders such as Pepper and Start and also unregulated loan owners.  The chart below shows a split out of the maroon area in the opening chart.

PDH Repossessions by Banks and Non Banks to Q3 2023

In the last 15 years, there has been a total of 3,400 court-ordered PDH repossessions. Of these around 70 per cent have been undertaken for banks. However, the banks stalled their execution of repossession orders in early 2020 (likely pandemic related) and there has been no increase since.  In the year to the end of September, there were 57 court-ordered repossessions and 42 (nearly 75 per cent) were carried out for non-banks.

Figures on legal proceedings suggest that the banks have pretty much ceased using legal proceedings to obtain repossessions orders.  Here is the number of accounts with legal proceedings in progress.

PDH Legal Proceedings by Banks and Non Banks to Q3 2023

In early 2016, the banks had almost 12,000 PDH mortgage accounts with legal proceedings in progress. The last figures show that this had fallen to just 1,100 by the end of September. This is 0.2 per cent (1 in 500) of the 594,000 PDH mortgage accounts held by the banks.

Some of the reduction, of course, came about as the non-performing loans were sold to non-bank entities but the fall in the overall total is very clear. And it can be seen that the level of non-banks has been stable in recent years. In Q1 2019, non-banks had 4,400 PDH accounts with ongoing legal proceedings. The latest figure for these entities is 4,300.

That is not to say there has been an improvement in the mortgage accounts held by non-banks.  The arrears on these accounts is still very high.

PDH Mortgage Accounts with Non Bank Entities Q3 2023

Of the 710,000 or so PDH mortgage accounts in the latest update, almost 115,000 (16 per cent) were held  by non-bank entities.  And of those almost a quarter (27,300) were in some form of arrears.

The arrears ranged from relatively small (less than 90 days arrears) to incredibly large (over 10 years arrears).  It is bizarre that we have to produce figures for such significant arrears.  Non-bank entities had 21,000 PDH mortgage accounts that were more than 90 days in arrears.

Included in that are 4,500 accounts that are more than ten years in arrears.  The total balance outstanding on these loans is €1.3 billion, giving an average balance of €280,000.  There have been €833 million of missed payments on these giving an average level of arrears of just under €185,000.   That is an incredible amount of missing payments.

It is worth noting again that arrears is not a good measure of current loan distress. It does not tell us when the payments were missed.  An account that had two years of missed payments a decade ago but has had every payment made since will be counted as being two years in arrears.

Also, the measurement of arrears in terms of days past due is impacted by the repayment required.  If an account has had €6,000 of historical missed payments and the required monthly payment is €1,000 then that account will be 180 days (six months) in arrears.  If the required monthly payment rises to €1,200 – due to. say, interest rate increases – and there is no new arrears, then the €6,000 of historical arrears becomes the equivalent of 150 days (five months) of arrears. 

This measurement issue won’t impact a count of the total number of accounts in arrears.  There has been no rise in the total number of accounts in arrears.

PDH Mortgage Accounts in Arrears Q3 2023

As shown above, there remains around 29,000 PDH mortgage accounts which are more than 90 days in arrears.  Of these 21,000 are held by non-bank entities.  The banks have 8,000 such accounts but this represents just 1.3 per cent of the total PDH mortgages they hold (594,000).  The banks do not have a problem with a long-term mortgage arrears.

In some cases this will have occurred with the borrower getting back in track either with or without a cure or modification. In other cases it is because the banks have simply sold the loans.  There were plenty of claims that these sales would lead to a surge in repossessions. All we have seen so far is a trickle.

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