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13
SEP
2006

Homeowners struggle to meet mortgage payments

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners missed mortgage payments last year, with young borrowers most at risk, a charity survey said on Wednesday.

The Citizens Advice poll found that 770,000 people fell behind with one or more payments, raising the threat of repossessions.

More than one in 10 aged between 21 and 24 said they had missed at least one payment. The problem could worsen if interest rates and house prices keep rising.

Most analysts expect the Bank of England to hike rates again this year from 4.75 percent. Soaring house prices have forced first-time buyers to stretch to get on the property ladder.

“We are very concerned about the numbers of people who are missing payments,” the charity’s Chief Executive David Harker said. “We don’t want people to borrow far more than they can afford.”

Many people were confused about secured loans, where money is borrowed against an asset such as a house.

One in 10 thought the loans allowed them to miss payments without losing their home, while a further 10 percent believed they could choose how much to repay each month.

Harker urged banks, mortgage lenders and loan companies to be far more transparent with customers.

“If people are considering becoming homeowners they need to understand clearly what they are taking on,” he said.

Citizens Advice bureaux dealt with more than 51,000 inquiries about mortgage and secured loan arrears and 87,000 questions about actual or threatened homelessness.

Research firm GfK NOP polled 2,057 adults between August 3-8.

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