The number of homes repossessed by lenders last year fell sharply, according to new detailed research released by chartered surveyor e.surv.
Across England & Wales, total home repossessions dropped by just over half (51%) year-on-year in absolute terms to total 19,672 in 2015, down from 39,928 in 2014. As a consequence, the average rate of repossessions in 2015 across England and Wales now stands at 1.7 repossessions per 1,000 households, down from 3.4 per 1,000 a year earlier.
Intriguingly, the gap between home repossessions in the North and South has almost halved year-on-year, with repossessions in the North dropping to a rate of 2.1 per 1,000 households, compared with 1.4 per 1,000 in the South.
Richard Sexton, director of e.surv Chartered Surveyors, explains: “Repossession levels are retreating – and the narrowing North-South gap is the strongest sign of this decline. Fuelling these improvements has been the triple combination of rising employment, low inflation, and a consistently low base rate. More people than ever are managing to hang onto their homes and keep up with repayment schedules. Alongside this, many homeowners are remortgaging to take advantage of the flurry of new deals on offer from lenders. These factors have significantly helped those struggling across England &Wales to get their finances back on track.
“The lending market is also playing an important role. This is the era of responsible lending, withprospective homebuyers benefiting from the variety of mortgage options on offer, increased regulatory tests, and plenty of advice on how to secure the right deal. The outlook for 2016 seems promising, with increasing numbers of potential buyers finding themselves in a more financially secure position.”
Unfortunately, Bolton continues to have the highest repossession rate across England and Wales, a position it has held since 2004. Within the town, 3.5 per 1,000 households had their home repossessed throughout 2015. Sunderland closely follows Bolton, with a repossession rate of 3.1 per 1,000, accompanied by Oldham and Liverpool - both at 3 per 1,000 - and Bradford,with a rate of 2.7 per 1,000 households.
“Repossessions overall may be dropping, but the reclaiming of homes remains an acutely Northern problem,” Sexton added.