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People have seen their mortgage repayments increase by hundreds of euros in recent months. Shutterstock/fizkes
THE MORNING LEAD

'I wonder have I failed my family': Readers describe their struggles with mortgage repayments

We asked readers how higher mortgage interest rates are impacting them.

THIS WEEK, WE asked readers to get in touch and let us know if they have been feeling the impact of higher mortgage interest rates.

Now at 4.25%, the European Central Bank’s main rate for pricing mortgages is the highest it has been since May 2001 after nine consecutive hikes.

The immediate impact of these rises has been felt by mortgage holders on variable and tracker rates and by any homeowner who has reached the end of their fixed-rate term.

First-time buyers are also facing significant increases in their monthly mortgage payments as a result.

On top of this, some 60,000 mortgage holders whose mortgages are owned by vulture funds are unable to switch to high-street lenders and are stuck on rates as high as 10%.

We asked readers to get in touch with their stories. 

The vast majority who did said they were under pressure and struggling as a result of higher monthly mortgage repayments, especially considering the rising costs of other essentials like food and energy bills. 

Many people said they are having sleepless nights as a result of their financial concerns and a lot said they are seriously worried about the future.

Here are some of the stories we heard.

‘Pressure to be everything for everyone’

One reader contacted us and said:

“Both me and my husband work fairly good jobs. We built our home in 2007 and were lucky at the time to get a tracker. Since July last year our mortgage has gone from €930 to €1460.

“We have three kids and do the best we can. No holidays or day trips this year. Had to cancel health insurance. We’ve only one car and don’t live lavishly. Food from Aldi and clothes from Penneys or second hand shops.

“Our wages haven’t changed with inflation but our mortgage has. We’re in arrears, not by a lot but still the pressure on you to be everything for everyone is so disheartening.”

‘I’m already struggling to afford it and I haven’t even got the keys yet’

A first-time buyer whose property is currently sale agreed wrote to us. 

He said: “I’m waiting 4 months to get the MUDS from the management company with no response in sight. If I don’t draw down the mortgage in the next two weeks I’m subjected to another 0.25% on my interest rate.

“I’m already struggling to afford it and I haven’t even got the keys yet. It’s very frustrating.”

He added: “And at the same time I read the bank is recording huge profits.”

‘Have to work extra night shifts’

A single mother whose mortgage is with Pepper Finance told us she is working extra night shifts to afford her monthly payments which now have an interest rate of over 5%. 

She said because she is working extra hours it impacts her one parent allowance. 

The reader said she has been in contact with MABS for “many years”.

“I am in no position to switch or if I sell my house I would not get a mortgage as I’m only out of insolvency.

“I will be 72 when my mortgage is paid and still 20 years left on it. This is causing me huge stress and affecting my health.

“I have emailed the Finance Minister and many numerous TDs about my situation. There seems to be no help given for mortgages taken over,” she said.

‘We aren’t struggling…yet’

One reader reached out to say although they aren’t struggling yet they will be next year when their fixed rate ends.

“At the moment we are looking at an increase of €500 per month in our repayments – more if rates go up between now and then. I’m not sure how we’ll manage,” they said.

“We have a child who has additional needs. We pay privately for their therapies. Going public wasn’t an option. We are on waiting lists but have been told it’s not possible to say when we’ll be seen.

I’m looking at leaving a job I really like, simply because I can’t afford to stay there.

“We haven’t said to family that we’re going to be struggling next year. My parents would only feel under pressure to help us and I don’t want that for them. They have enough going on looking after themselves.”

‘The working poor’

A reader from Dublin, aged 40, told us how she and her partner are “extremely worried” about coming to the end of their fixed rate next year.

They bought their house a little over two years ago for less than they were approved to borrow as they did not want to overstretch themselves.

“However, calculating our repayments at the current interest rates, and what our monthly repayments could potentially become, we don’t think we will be able to keep up with them,” she said. 

“We are both in full-time employment, and have already made a couple of huge sacrifices to ensure we can keep afloat. This country is the absolute pits for the squeezed middle…quickly becoming the working poor. ”

‘We are getting hit from every direction’

A reader named Lynn wrote:

“I’m really struggling with the interest rate hikes. I have a tracker mortgage. I was told not to fix so it’s gone up nearly €400 a month. But we are getting hit from every direction, with food bills being higher and electric bills,gas bills and then the cost of petrol and diesel.

“This country is a joke. It’s hitting the working class as we don’t get fuel allowance or back to school allowance. We work to keep our head above water. It’s a joke. I work 20 hours a week and my husband works full time. We are spending easily €600 extra a month with all the price hikes.”

‘I wonder have I failed my family’

Fred, mid 40′s from the South East, told us he is kept awake at night with money worries.

“I’m one of the unlucky many that have seen their mortgage payment rocket in the past few weeks. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.

“Having bought at the peak of the boom in 2006, all was good. One surprise kid and two reasonably well paid jobs (both in retail/sales) then came more kids and a redundancy as we hit the recession in 2008/2009,” he said.

Fred told us that they played catch up as the years progressed but money was always put aside for school, creche and child-minding bills.

“Not poor enough for state help or assistance, but taking in too much money on paper to meet criteria,” Fred said.

“Again I find myself worrying about the future, awake at night as the direct debit hits every month and wipes my balance clean.

“After doing so well during the recession and managing to keep the house above our heads, I now again face a huge dip in income and a massive increase in expenditure as the people I need to buy goods from me choose not to.

“It’s a very bleak outlook and I am more worried than I’ve ever been. In my mid-40s I wonder have I failed my family, made bad choices,” he said.

“I will get through this with support from friends and family, but I fear there will be a marked increase in mental health issues and suicides as a result.

“It’s crazy to think that a barbaric Russian leader has brought Europe to its knees, perhaps if we can assist Ukraine in reclaiming their land and ending the war,we can return to a more stable and economically viable future for Europe.”

To share your story, please send around 150-300 words to answers@thejournal.ie with the subject line ‘Mortgage rates’.

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