ONS: Property debt rises

Michael Lloyd

December 10, 2019

Total property debt has risen by £30bn from 2014 to 2016 to 2016 to 2018, ONS data has showed.

Total property debt has increased by 3% from £1.13tn from April 2014 to March 2016 to £1.16tn from April 2016 to March 2018 after adjusting for inflation.

This was because of a rise in both the number of households with property debt and increasing levels of property debt.

Payam Azadi, director of Niche Advice, said: “When I was young in the 1980s when we had the crash, interest rates went up to around 15%.

“An average property where I used to live was about £80,000 to £90,000 and the same properties are now worth half a million.

“Property prices and debts have gone up. If interest rates went up to 15% it wouldn’t be sustainable for people, it would be horrendous.

“We’re a nation obsessed with property ownership and that’s fuelled the mortgage market. You’ve also seen a lot of debts being put on properties.

“People used to buy and then work hard to reduce the mortgage but are now taking on further mortgages and adding that debt onto their mortgage.

“People like to live comfortably rather than making the sacrifices of paying down their mortgages.”

The number of households with property debt was up over the latest period, from 9.1m in April 2014 to March 2016, to 9.2m in April 2016 to March 2018.

Mean household property debt also increased over the same period, rising by 2% from £123,600 to £126,500.

Azadi added: “I would imagine all debt has gone up, whether property or personal debt. As industry we need to drill to clients that a mortgage is for the term of the mortgage, the next 10, 30 years, however long that term is.

“As an industry we need to highlight the long-term implications. Just because you’re earning that salary now, doesn’t mean you will at 60 years old.

“We’ve seen more people taking longer periods to keep rates low, but we need to educate about the term.”

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