Thursday, 8 November 2012

Not so keen to take your home

The number of home repossessions has fallen to the lowest level since before the financial crisis, in 2007, the result of lenders keeping families in financial trouble in their homes.

A total of 8,200 properties were taken into possession by mortgage lenders in the three months to September, down from 8,500 in the second quarter and 9,600 at the same time last year.

A hallmark of the credit crunch and economic downturn has been the willingness of lenders to show forbearance with their customers.

It means banks and building societies can put off the heavy cost of dealing with a repossessed home and families can stay put.

Some survive by paying only the interest on the loans. In other cases the lender extends the length of the lending period or allows a payment holiday.

While repossessions have fallen, the number of homeowners in serious arrears, worth 10 per cent or more of the loan, is running at nearly twice its pre-crisis level.

The City watchdog, the FSA, has warned that the extent of forbearance could be disguising the scale of problems experienced by families under financial stress.

It's estimated that between 5 and 8 per cent of all mortgage borrowers could be benefiting from forbearance.

It is one reason why repossessions are running at an annual rate of around 35,000, compared with over 75,000 during the slump in the housing market in the early 1990s.

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