Homeowners Try To Clear Mortgages

Mortgage repayments

03.10.2008

In the light of recent uncertainties in the housing market, Britons are choosing to repay their mortgages rather than risk withdrawing equity from their homes to fund large purchases, figures have shown.

According to the Bank of England, the amount of money unlocked from property during the second quarter of the year turned negative for the first time since 1998 - to stand at minus £2.76 billion.

The negative figure means that rather than extending their mortgage debt during the period, people increased their housing equity.

The figure, which was the largest net injection of equity since the records began in 1970, is in stark contrast to the £5.24 billion that people unlocked from their homes during the first quarter - and that was the lowest figure for nearly seven years.

Equity withdrawal enables homeowners to cash in on rising house prices by increasing their mortgages to convert some of the gains into cash.

The money is typically used to fund big purchases such as cars or home improvements, or for debt consolidation.

But while people feel confident about increasing the size of their mortgage debt during a period when house prices are booming, they are far less inclined to do so when they are falling.

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Lisa Shenton from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "There may be a number of reasons for this. We've noticed that some of our clients are paying off part of their mortgage when they remortgage and achieving a lower loan to value ratio; in the current lending climate, this often leads to a lower mortgage rate being paid."