Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Recovery in employment continues

The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) has assumed a greater role in providing information about the performance of the economy in recent years.  This is not because of any improvements in the QNHS (indeed the results of Census 2011 show that caution to some of the QNHS estimates must be exercised) but because of difficulties in untangling all the caveats associated with Ireland’s national accounts data.

Employment Total

After slowing down through most of 2014 it now appears that employment growth re-accelerated in the first half of 2015.

Employment Growth

If we do a simple arithmetic projection of employment excluding the construction sector then the pre-crisis peak of employment (excluding construction) would be regained by the middle of next year.

Employment ex Construction

Almost all of the recent employment growth is in full-time rather than part-time employment.

Full Time and Part Time Employment

Though amongst part-time employees it should be noted that the drop in those who consider themselves to be “underemployed” has not continued into 2015.

Part-time underemployed

This is also reflected in the broad unemployment rate which includes potential labour supply (those marginally attached to the labour force and those who are willing to work more).  Note both unemployment rates here are not seasonally adjusted.

Unemployment Rates

Recent employment growth has mainly been in employees rather than in the self-employed.

Employee and Self Employed

And among employees there has been a drop in public sector employee numbers and a rise in private sector employees. Again these series are not seasonally adjusted.

Pub and Priv Employee Numbers

It can be seen that employee numbers in the private sector have been growing since early 2011.  Overall employment did not grow in 2011 as there were falls in self and public sector employment but private sector employee numbers have been growing for four years.

The regional data show that the employment growth is not Dublin-centric.  Over the past 12 months there was a 41,900 increase in employment outside Dublin compared to 15,400 in Dublin.  In growth terms Dublin had only the sixth fastest increase in annual employment of the eight regions.

Regional Employment

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Are there 60 home repossession orders being made every week?

Here is part of the front page of The Irish Times today.

Irish Times 06-08-2015

Our attention here is drawn to the story on the right hand side and, in particular the headline.  Are there 60 repossessions orders for homes being made each week?

Hmmm. No.  To be fair the text of the article does not say this even if the figures are presented in a slightly equivocal way.  So lets see what the figures say.  The article says that:

A total of 900 repossession orders were granted in the State’s 26 Circuit Courts between January and June

There were 26 weeks between January and June so this would seem to give a weekly average of 35.  However we are told:

The number of dwellings against which repossession orders were granted averaged 58 per week during the first quarter sittings. This rose to 62 per week in the second quarter.

The 900 repossession orders spread across the 15 weeks that the courts sat for is indeed 60 per week but the headline does not say “courts order 60 repossessions of homes each week they sit”; it just says each week.

The headline makes a reference to “homes” and quote above refers to “dwellings” but possession orders can be granted under one of three headings (with number granted by Circuit Court in first half of 2015 in brackets):

  • principal primary residences (616)
  • buy-to-let residential investment properties (126)
  • other including land, sites, farms and commercial premises (158)

If the focus is just on “dwellings” then the average number of repossession orders granted per sitting week is 50 rather than 60.  For primary homes the equivalent average is 41.

And the 616 orders for primary homes across 26 weeks gives a weekly average of 24 in the first half of 2015 or 29 if including BTLs.

The sittings in Cork get special mention for having the highest number of orders in the country:

The highest number was at Cork Circuit Court, where 123 repossession orders were granted – 91 for primary homes and 32 for buy-to-lets and others.

The figures from the Courts Service show that the there were 91 PPRs, 4 BTL and 28 non-residential properties in the 123 orders granted.

Of the 95 orders granted against residential properties 60 were in the first quarter and 35 were in the second quarter.  Of these 35 order, 30 were granted at sittings of the County Registrar (which I have attended) while five were granted by judges at full sittings of the Circuit Court (I went once – it is a circus).

Here is a summary of the six sittings that saw the 30 orders granted by the County Registrar in Cork in the second quarter.

Repossessions Hearings - Easter Term

More details of the 30 orders granted are below the fold.  It can be seen that around one-quarter of the orders are for BTL properties while around one-third are for properties that are vacant.  These two categories account for nearly 60 per cent of all orders granted in Cork.

If there is an average of 29 possession orders for dwellings being granted across the country each week then it is likely that around 17 of them are for BTL or Vacant properties.  That means we are left with “courts order 12 repossessions of homes each week”.  But that doesn’t make for a good front page headline.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Repossession cases adjourned in April coming around again

There are 90 cases listed for hearing on the Cork County Registrar’s Civil Possession list today.  Of the cases listed most of them have been tracked at previously attended sittings back in April and were adjourned to today’s sitting.  Two of the sessions were summarised here. The reasons the cases were adjourned to today’s date are:

  • 5 were adjourned to allow a motion to change the name of applicant be submitted (mostly because the loan was sold to another party).
  • 26 were adjourned because alternative repayment arrangements were either in place or under negotiation.
  • 3 were adjourned because the respondent(s) had not been formally served notice of the legal proceedings in advance of the previous sitting.
  • 39 were adjourned under the practice direction of the circuit court where all legal proceedings involving homes are adjourned on their first appearance in court.
  • 11 of the cases were adjourned even though the bank sought to proceed with the application for the final possession order but had the case adjourned against their wishes.

The outcomes will be updated here later today with the 11 cases where the lenders previously sought final possession orders of particular note.

UPDATE:  Today’s session actually had 97 cases (as opposed to the 90 listed) and was completed in around two hours.

There were issues relating to the formal service of the legal proceedings to the borrowers in the seven cases added and two of the listed cases so these could not proceed.  There were two non-mortgage possession cases on the list so we are left with 86, all of which are in the previous outcomes listed above.

Eight of 86 cases heard were struck out.  It is not always stated why this action is taken.  Sometimes it is because the property has been sold or voluntarily surrendered and the repossession proceedings must end.  In a few cases today proceedings were struck out because of issues of jurisdiction (i.e. the Murphy judgement).  It is rare to hear of a case being struck out because repayments have resumed.  There are many cases where payments are being made and if these are as agreed such cases are usually adjourned to a later date or, in some cases, adjourned generally with liberty to re-enter which is akin to being struck out.

Of the remaining 78 cases the borrowers were absent from the court in 59 cases with the borrower present and/or represented in 19 cases.  The legal representatives of the banks sought adjournments in 58 cases for various reasons while there were 20 cases where they wished to proceed with their application for the final order for possession. Ten possession orders were granted and these are summarised below.

Orders Granted 29-07-15

None of the orders granted were contested.  Three of the cases were where the bank wished to proceed the last time the case was listed but it was adjourned. These included the one case with an order granted where the borrower was present today (#2 above). This borrower consented to the order and argued for the stay to be reduced from three months to one month! 

There were two cases (#3 and #6) where the bank wished to proceed at the last hearing but had the case adjourned in the presence of the borrower.  For today’s hearing these borrowers were absent and the orders were granted.

Four of these cases had previously been adjourned as per the practice direction and three of them were adjourned on request by the lender.  The borrowers were not present on either occasion.

Five of the ten properties with orders granted against them are vacant.  In most of these cases no payments had been received for significant periods – up to five years.  No payments had been made on the mortgages for any of these vacant properties since 2011.

In one of the cases (#5 above) it can be seen that a payment was made as recently as this month and almost €2,600 was paid in 2015 (almost 40 per cent of the amount due).  Even though the arrears are almost €70,000 and equivalent to more than five years of the current monthly payment if the borrower was present in court this order would not have been granted.  A nine month stay was put on the order.

There were 10 other cases where the lenders wished to proceed to the final order for possession but the cases were adjourned.  In five of the cases this was the second occasion observed where the bank wished to proceed and the case was adjourned.  These cases are summarised below. [Click to enlarge]

Proceed-Adjourned Cases 29-07-15

Most of these cases have pretty substantial arrears and some have gone significant periods with no payments.  However, turning up in court and having some recent payments or indicating a capacity to make some repayments will likely result in an adjournment.  It is not clear that #10 above exhibited either of these.  Of course, an adjournment today does not mean there won’t be an order granted at the next sitting.

There were also three cases adjourned from previous sittings where the banks had sought a final order for possession at the last hearing but were looking for an adjournment at today’s sitting citing “resumed payments”, “talks on-going” and “engagement with borrower”.

So the summary of the 95 cases is:

  • 9 couldn’t proceed because service hadn’t been completed
  • 10 orders for possession were granted
  • 8 cases were struck out
  • 58 cases were adjourned by the lenders
  • 10 cases were adjourned by the County Registrar

UPDATE #2: The last hearing before the summer break took place on July 30th. Hearings will recommence in October!  There were 87 cases listed yesterday. The outcomes were:

  • 75 adjournments
    • 63 adjourned by the lenders
    • 12 adjourned by the (visiting) County Registrar
  • 6 cases were struck out
  • 6 orders for possession were granted.

There were 18 cases where the lenders wished to proceed with their application for an order for possession.  These are summarised in the table below.  They are divided between cases where the borrower was absent and cases where the borrower was present and/or represented.

It can be seen that orders were only granted against borrowers who were absent.  All borrowers who were presented or represented in court had their cases adjourned.  There were two cases adjourned where the lenders wished to proceed in spite of the borrower being absent.

Here are the details that were provided to the court. [Click to enlarge]

Cases Proceeded 30-07-2015

Repossession cases adjourned in April coming around again

There are 90 cases listed for hearing on the Cork County Registrar’s Civil Possession list today.  Of the cases listed most of them have been tracked at previously attended sittings back in April and were adjourned to today’s sitting.  Two of the sessions were summarised here. The reasons the cases were adjourned to today’s date are:

  • 5 were adjourned to allow a motion to change the name of applicant be submitted (mostly because the loan was sold to another party).
  • 26 were adjourned because alternative repayment arrangements were either in place or under negotiation.
  • 3 were adjourned because the respondent(s) had not been formally served notice of the legal proceedings in advance of the previous sitting.
  • 39 were adjourned under the practice direction of the circuit court where all legal proceedings involving homes are adjourned on their first appearance in court.
  • 11 of the cases were adjourned even though the bank sought to proceed with the application for the final possession order but had the case adjourned against their wishes.

The outcomes will be updated here later today with the 11 cases where the lenders previously sought final possession orders of particular note.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cork Repossession Hearing - 22nd July 2015

Repossession hearings continued with the County Registrar in Cork today.  This is the 12th session attended and although the overall pattern shows little sign of changing (adjourn, adjourn, adjourn...) some other outcomes were more prevalent in today’s session.

There were 100 cases listed for today with one additional case raised at the end of the list though one of the original cases listed is a discontinued case that should not have been listed.  Thus there were 100 cases and borrowers where either present or represented in court in 43 cases.  There were 57 cases where the borrowers were absent.

Of the 100 cases the initial actions of the lenders were:

  • 65 applications for adjournments
  • 13 cases to be struck out
  • 22 cases seeking the final order for possession

The reasons for the adjournments were mainly because alternative repayment arrangements had been entered into or were being negotiated after the submission of standard financial statements.  Adjournments were also sought in a couple of instances to allow the sale of properties by borrowers to conclude.  In some cases the adjournments were to allow for a change of name of the applicant in cases where loans had been sold.

Of the 100 cases the outcomes were:

  • 80 cases were adjourned
  • 13 cases were struck out
  • 6 possession orders were granted
  • 1 case was held in camera.

It can be seen that possession orders were granted in less than one-third of the instances where the lenders proceeded with the application for the final order for possession (6 out of 21 with the outcome of the other unknown). 

Of the six possession orders granted none were contested.  In two cases the borrowers were present and/or represented and consented to the possession orders while the borrower was absent for the other four orders that were granted.  The details, where provided, are summarised below (click to enlarge).

Possession Orders 22-07-15

Of the 80 cases adjourned most were adjourned to dates in November and December with a few pushed back to February of next year.  There were ten cases which were ‘adjourned generally’.  This means no new date was set but the applicant is at liberty to re-enter at some stage in the future.  Most of these were because alternative repayments arrangements had been entered into and were being adhered to by the borrower.

There were several other cases where the lender sought an adjournment because an alternative repayment arrangement was being entered into.  However when the legal representative of the banks were asked if repayments were being made at present they said such information was not part of their instructions.  It is likely that if repayments were being made that the County Registrar would have adjourned these cases generally rather than to dates in November and December.  Information about current payments would seem to be fairly fundamental to repossession proceedings but it was not available to the court.

Most of the 15 instances where the lenders wished to proceed to the final order but saw the cases adjourned by the County Registrar were because the borrower was present and/or represented in court.  In one such a case a borrower had made no repayments since 2010 and had accumulated arrears of more than €48,000.  The borrower said their circumstances had changed and hoped that things could improve.  The case was adjourned to the 26th of October.

One case was adjourned against the wishes of the lender even though the borrower was not in court to present their circumstances.  This was for a loan with €193,000 outstanding with arrears of €36,000.  The loan first went into default in February 2011.  Various alternative repayments had been entered into in 2010, 2011 (arrears capitalisation), 2012 (interest only) and in February 2014 a reduced payment had been agreed.  Intermittent repayments were made and when reviewing the account statement the County Registrar said that “significant payments” were made in 2014 and that the arrears were “not particularly large”.  The property had previously been sale agreed but the purchaser had withdrawn.  A standard financial statement was submitted when the previous restructuring arrangements were put in place but the lender now deemed the borrower to be ‘non-cooperative’ under the CCMA.  No repayments had been made since January 2015.  The Country Registrar suggested that something may have changed in January of this year given the “significant payments” made in 2014.  The case was adjourned to the 16th of December.

As is usual the cases were heard very quickly and the session lasted just over 90 minutes.

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