Housing repossessions nearly a third higher in the north of England

Alex Johnson

2a0fd9327bf1132593293511a079fb387099cb90 300x225 Housing repossessions nearly a third higher in the north of EnglandAnother one for the north-south property divide folder – the north is now seeing 32% more repossessions than the south, according to new research by e.surv chartered surveyors.

Its analysis of court-ordered repossessions in the first six months of 2012 shows there were 1.8 repossessions per 1,000 households in the north (using the Humber to the Wash definition for the north-south split). This means that the gap has widened from a 7% difference in 2006 to 32% as of the beginning of August this year.

The north-west, the M62 corridor and industrial Yorkshire are the regions where repossessions are highest.

Northern towns dominate the list of places with the highest proportion of repossessions. Chester tops the list, with 4.9 per 1,000 households, over three times higher than the UK average of 1.6 per 1,000. Blackpool (2.6) and Bradford (2.5) are the others in the top three. Of the top 20 postcodes where repossessions are highest, 15 are in the north.

Meanwhile, southern towns dominate the list of areas with the lowest proportion of repossessions. Only three northern postcodes appear in the bottom 20 areas for repossessions.

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors, said: “This is more evidence that the recession has hit the north much harder than the south. Monthly budgets have been ransacked since the financial crisis, which is making it harder for borrowers to keep up with mortgage repayments. Personal finances have been caught in the grip of increasing energy prices, a sharp drop in wages in real terms, and record low savings rates. And the squeeze has been tightening. Although all these problems are on a national scale, they are accentuated in the north.

“Nationally, real-term salaries are 8% lower than they were in 2006. But in the north, particularly in areas like the north-west, salaries have fallen more steeply than the national average – and unemployment is higher – thanks to a weaker private sector, the decline of traditional heavy industries and a dependence on public sector jobs. Now this government is culling the public sector at an unprecedented scale and speed, more homeowners in the north are having their homes repossessed because they can’t make ends meet. It’s created a gaping north-south divide in housing repossessions.”

Parts of East London and Essex are bucking the geographical trend. Romford, Essex, has 2.5 repossessions per 1,000 households, the fourth highest proportion of repossessions in the UK.

Overall, repossessions in the first half of this year nationally fell 16% on an annual basis. The average number of repossessions per 1,000 households fell from 1.9 in the first half of 2011 to 1.6 in the equivalent period of this year. Meanwhile, the number of mortgages in serious arrears (10% or more of the balance) has increased by 47% since the first half of 2008 to 28,600, the highest since 2000 and the highest ever as a proportion of the total number of outstanding mortgages.

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