Negative equity afflicts half a million households

New figures show nearly half a million UK households are still in negative equity – meaning their homes are worth less than the mortgages on them.

 

In areas of the country where house prices are depressed, negative equity is still a big issue.

In Northern Ireland for example, 68,000 homeowners – or 41% of borrowers- were in negative equity at the end of last year.

In north-east England and Cumbria the figure is 16%.

That is actually worse than six months previously, when the figure was 14%, presumably tracking a further decline in house prices in the region.

Not far behind that is Scotland, where 13% of borrowers are in difficulties.

The figures, produced by the mortgage group HML, are based on data from more than one million home loans.

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shafiq caan

I am paying £250 a month extra, which is barely affordable – there’s a lot of stress involved”

Shafiq CaanHomeowner

By contrast, only 1% of borrowers in London find themselves in negative equity, following the surge in the capital’s property prices.

Overall just 8% of mortgage holders are now in that position, amounting to 463,000 homeowners, a big improvement on five years ago.

Stress

Negative equity occurs when the price of a property falls so dramatically that it is no longer worth as much as the loan that was taken out on it.

That becomes an issue for the bank or the building society, because they no longer have enough security to cover the loan.

And it becomes a real headache for an owner, because he or she cannot usually sell up without paying back the difference. Often that amounts to tens of thousands of pounds.

Shafiq Caan, for example, bought his house in West Yorkshire near the peak of the market in 2008.

He paid £115,000, with the help of a £95,000 mortgage.

But now that the house is only worth £75,000, he cannot sell it. Unless he pays back the difference of £20,000 to his lender.

So, like thousands of others, he decided to rent the property out.

But since his lender has increased his repayments, the rent he receives does not cover the mortgage.

“I am paying £250 a month extra, which is barely affordable,” he told the BBC.

 

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