Property repossessions – we could be over the worst

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Threats of home repossessions in the county have hit a nine-year low – but three households a day still received orders to pay up or leave in 2011.

A total of 1,170 households in the county faced repossession claims from their mortagage lender for falling behind with payments during last year.

The figure has dropped significantly year-on-year from 2008 when it reached a 2,440 high and is the lowest since 2004 when there were 1,095 claims.

The biggest drop in claims in the county was in Kettering where in 2008 there were 335 claims, but last year there were just 140.

A mortgage repossession claim is given to the courts by the lender when pursuing money owed by the borrower.

It is the lender’s first step toward a formal repossession of a property.

Keith Lucas, director of Kettering-based Lucas Estate Agents, said while interest rates remained low homeowners were less at risk of repossession.

He said: “There are certainly fewer repossessed properites going on sale than a few years ago.

“In the first half of 2009 there were loads but now there are only two or three a week.

“I think it is to do with low interest rates – people aren’t getting too far behind on payments and there has been more forbearance from the lenders.”

He said the drop in repossessions was a positive sign for the housing market.

He said: “Obviously less repossesions is always a good thing, but there is definitely now a shortage of cheap properties.

“There are a lot of people who would like to buy but can’t get the finance.

“It’s difficult for most people to get on the ladder.”

The figures were published by the Ministry of Justice.

Council of Mortgage Lenders director general Paul Smee said: “Low interest rates and good arrears management by lenders are helping the vast majority of those borrowers who face difficulties to keep their homes and get back on track.

“This will continue, but in the face of wider economic difficulties and rising unemployment, we are concerned that there will be a higher number of people facing more serious problems in 2012.”