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Northern Ireland will need leadership in its recovery


Published: 29 July 2014 | Author: Bernard Clarke

The Northern Ireland Repossessions Taskforce, a group of housing organisations and government departments including the CML, recently published its overview of the Northern Ireland housing market (pdf).

The report shows that Northern Ireland house prices, which once had rapid growth at a rate of 23% price inflation in 2006, are now 50% of the peak level they had in 2007. Northern Ireland currently has the highest level of buy-to-let arrears in the UK due to the huge appetite for buy-to-let investment during the peak years, the report continues, and negative equity is still a persistent issue that is affecting up to 41%.

Recent data over the last 12 months, however, has shown hints of recovery. A report by Nationwide found that house prices have started to rise again, up 8.4% compared to the same second quarter in 2013. The CML reported in May that mortgage lending for house purchase is up 35% in the first quarter of the year compared to last year, and the Northern Ireland Department of Justice reports mortgage repossession cases going before Northern Ireland courts has had a year-on-year fall of 14% in the first quarter this year.

The Repossession Taskforce, with which the CML has been actively involved, will now consider long-term solutions to the particular challenges in Northern Ireland and put forth recommendations later in the year. There are encouraging signs in the last twelve months that there is starting to be a level of recovery, and with strong policy going forward this can be the beginning of more optimism in Northern Ireland.

As this new policy agenda is discussed by many stakeholders, the CML has appointed Derek Wilson, of Ulster Bank, as its new chair for the Council of Mortgage Lenders Northern Ireland.  He will succeed Brian McCormick who stepped down from the post as he moves on to a new non-mortgage focused role at First Trust Bank.

Derek Wilson has worked for Ulster Bank for over 30 years and is currently ‎Head of Lending Products. He has wide ranging experience in representing lenders’ views in the Northern Ireland market, having previously held the chair position at CML Northern Ireland between 2006 and 2008 and for a second time between 2011 and 2013. He has been a strong advocate of promoting affordability and sustainably helping first-time buyers into the market, alongside engaging with government and key figures throughout his two previous appointments.

We look forward to contributing, as the issues discussed in the Repossessions Taskforce report are digested and workable solutions are developed in getting the Northern Ireland market on a firm footing for the future.