The Central Bank said the proportion of residential mortgages in arrears for more than 90 days rose to 11.9% at the end of the quarter, up from a slightly revised 11.5% in the previous three months.
This means that 94,488 private residential mortgages were in arrears of over three months by the end of December, up from 91,358 at the end of September.
However, the bank said the increase of 3.5% is the slowest quarter on quarter rate of growth since it first started looking at the figures in 2009.
But the bank noted an increase in the number of arrears over 720 days, which rose by 14.1% in the fourth quarter from the third quarter – a sign of how deep the problem is for those who bought houses before the property crash.
The bank said that outstanding balance on residential mortgage arrears of over 90 days stood at €17.5 billion at the end of December.
The Central Bank released detailed figures for problem loans of investors for the first time late last year and said today that the proportion of buy-to-let mortgages in arrears rose to 18.9% from 17.9% at the end of September.
A total of 28,421 buy-to-let mortgages were in arrears of over 90 days by the end of the year compared to 27,018 at the end of September.
Today’s Central Bank figures show that a total of 79,852 residential property mortgages were restructured by the end of the year, down 2.2% (almost 1,800 mortgages) at the end of September.
The bank noted that the number of permament restructure deals – which include term extension, arrears capitalisation, permanent interest rate reductions, split mortgages and trade down mortgages – increased by about 13% in the fourth quarter compared to the third.
Of these restructured mortgages, 42,031 were not in arrears, while the remaining 37,821 were in arrears of ”varying length”.
Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the Department of Finance, John Moran, has told the Public Accounts Committee there is an “unnaturally low level of repossessions” of houses in Ireland.
He said the forbearance measures by the banks that resulted in this low rate of repossessions were necessary until a range of measures – notably the personal insolvency legislation – were in place to address the arrears situation.
Pressed by Deputy Shane Ross on whether he expected an upsurge in repossessions, Mr Moran noted the repossession rate in Ireland was 0.25% compared with 3% in the UK.