By Daniel Hunter

The number of mortgage possessions in the second quarter of 2012 declined, according to data released today by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

At 8,500, the number of possessions in the three months to June was the lowest since the final quarter of 2010. The decline in the second quarter, from a total of 9,600 possessions in the first three months of 2012, was in line with a seasonal pattern we have seen in each of the last three years.

The number of mortgages in arrears remained broadly flat in the second quarter. At the end of June, the number of loans with arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance stood at 157,400, fractionally lower than the total of 157,800 at the end of the first quarter.

Levels of arrears in lower and middle bands were slightly lower than in the preceding three months but there was a small increase (from 28,000 to 28,300) in those mortgages with the highest levels arrears, of more than 10% of the balance.

The data show the number of possessions totalled 18,100 in the first six months of 2012, implying that possessions so far are on a lower trajectory than our forecast of 45,000 for the year as a whole. But the Bank of England forecast for growth reminds us of the pressures that may disturb the current pattern of stability.

"The figures show that lenders, borrowers and debt advisers are working together to get through the current period of economic difficulty and keep mortgage possessions in check," CML's director general Paul Smee said.

"Generally, when borrowers prioritise their mortgage commitments, lenders can provide help appropriate to their individual circumstances. But success in managing temporary payment problems depends on everyone working together, and it is essential for anyone worried about their mortgage to talk to their lender as soon as possible."

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