FAMILIES who find themselves falling into mortgage arrears are urged to contact and engage with their lender as soon as they possibly can to avoid the situation escalating.
The warning, from a local financial advisor, comes as one Fermanagh family who are facing eviction from their home have spoken out on how they were sold a mortgage during the boom times while they were in a vulnerable position.
The family, who the Herald have chosen not to identify, took out their mortgage in 2007 but subsequently found they couldn’t afford the repayments, nor can they sell on their home as it is worth significantly less than they paid for it.
“I was in a vulnerable position at the time, I was suffering from mental health issues,” said the father, explaining the family had since forked out a lot of money on legal fees. “I was also on benefits at the time.
“We have been told the bailiffs are going to come and put us out, but I’m not leaving. This is our family home.”
The man, who said he believes they were mis-sold the mortgage, explained there had already been a court repossession order, but that they had a pending case before the courts fighting that order. He also explained how the lender they had originally taken the order from had sold the debt on to another organisation.
“I was sick when we took out the mortgage, and I’m sick now with the stress of it,” he continued. “The banks don’t listen to the people, they don’t care. There are a lot of people in the same situation as us. The shame is on them, not on the people.”
Enniskillen-based independent financial advisor Vincent Donegan, whose company are mortgage broker specialists, said while situations like the family featured in this story were not widespread in Fermanagh, unfortunately it did happen in the county. He said it was much more common that people fell into arrears, and urged anyone who found themselves in that position to address the issue straight away.
“It’s still fairly rare that a bank will move to resposess a house,” Mr Donegan explained. “They will try to explore every available option open to them not to repossess a home. The last they want is to do is take back a house by force, then sell it on at a loss.
“The onus is on people who find themselves in trouble, or about to get into difficulties, to act quickly. Contact your mortgage broker or lender directly straight away,” he stressed. “Something that could be just short term can snowball very quickly.”
Mr Donegan, who also stressed people to only borrow what they need and not to take out a large mortgage if they don’t have to as “you never know what the future holds”, added that the banks would treat very case on its own merits.
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Posted: 9:00 am September 1, 2016