Home repossessions lowest for four years
The number of UK homes repossessed fell to 36,200 in 2011, significantly below the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ forecast of 40,000, and lower than 2010 when 37,100 homes were repossessed.
With interest rates remaining low and lenders adopting a sympathetic attitude to customers in financial difficulty, repossessions fell to their lowest level since 2007.
However, with unemployment in the UK reaching 8.4% in January, its highest level since 1994, the number of repossessions is expected to rise this year.
The number of mortgages with arrears equivalent to 2.5% or more of the mortgage balance fell to 159,400 at the end of last year, a decline of 7.5% compared with the end of the previous year.
The CML’s director general Paul Smee said: “Anyone worried about their finances should talk to their mortgage lender and take advice on their other debts as soon as possible.
“This will give them the best possible chance of staying in their home even if they have a spell of financial difficulty.”
The number of buy-to-let properties being repossessed increased by 25% to 5,900 in 2011, compared with 4,700 in 2010.
Housing minister Grant Shapps has announced a £20m ‘Preventing Repossessions Fund’ which will help people at risk of losing their homes.
Councils will receive £19m in cash to offer interest-free loans of up to £5,000 to homeowners who are unable to meet their mortgage payments.
Meanwhile, the demand for rented properties has soared to record levels according to a new survey by estate agency Countrywide.
Over 275,000 new tenants registered for private rental accommodation with Countrywide in 2011, 24% more than in 2010.
In August the estate agency received the highest number of tenancy enquiries since its records began.
The figures revealed that a growing number of families are entering the private rental market, especially in the North and South East of the UK.