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Closer co-operation needed in Northern Ireland, CML conference hears


Published: 7 May 2015 | Author: Bernard Clarke

Housing and mortgage markets in Northern Ireland would benefit from closer co-operation between lenders and the providers of other professional services, delegates at our recent conference in Belfast were told.

As well as providing a forum for the views of lenders, the conference heard presentations from construction firms, surveyors, consumer bodies, social housing providers and court staff.

With house prices having declined more sharply in Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK, the number of borrowers in negative equity continues to cause particular problems. The conference heard calls for more flexibility allowing home-owners to manage career and life changes. There were also pleas for greater collaboration between agencies dealing with mortgage arrears, and more research into dealing with the problems associated with negative equity.

With construction at the end of last year still more than 40% below its peak in Northern Ireland, the conference also focused on the need for more house-building. Many construction firms based in Northern Ireland earn much of their revenue elsewhere, and there is a continuing skills shortage. Meanwhile, firms want to see the streamlining of regulation affecting construction.

There has been a welcome decline in the number of cases of possession in Northern Ireland, and consumer groups believe that earlier engagement with borrowers in difficulty could deliver further improvements. Housing association staff also presented the case for an expansion of shared ownership.