The number of repossessions in the first quarter was 2,100 – consisting of 1,500 home-owners and 600 buy-to-let investors – making for the lowest repossession rate on record, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
If this rate continued through 2016, it would put the annual number of repossessions at 8,400 – less than any year since 1982 – although that year there were only 6.9m mortgages, against 11.1m today.
Mortgage arrears also continued to fall.
For the first time in more than a decade, the number of mortgages in arrears of 2.5 per cent or more fell below the 100,000 mark, with 96,200 loans in arrears at the end of March, down from 101,700 at the end of December and 111,200 at the end of the first quarter last year.
The CML identified a notable trend in recent years that the decline in mortgage arrears and repossessions means that experience is much more positive than in the rented sector, where separate data from the Ministry of Justice showed eviction rates were much higher.
For example, there were 42,728 rental evictions in England and Wales by county court bailiffs in 2015, against 5,594 mortgaged property repossessions by county court bailiffs, even though the rented sector accounts for only around a third of the housing stock.
Director general Paul Smee said lenders continue to work very effectively to help their borrowers through periods of difficulty when they do occur.
Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said with interest rates at rock-bottom for several years, it should follow that the repossession rate is the lowest on record.
He said: “While falling arrears and repossessions are to be celebrated, there is no room for complacency.”