Repos at lowest level in five years

The number of properties repossessed last year was the lowest since 2007, according to data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

The total number of repossessed properties reached 36,200 in 2011, down from 37,100 in 2010 and 48,300 in 2009. In 2007, the total was 25,900.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, the number of repossessions fell by 9 per cent to 8,500, down from 9,300 in the third quarter but that figure represents a 5 per cent increase from 8,100 in the final quarter of 2010.

There was an improvement in the level of arrears between 2010 and 2011, with the number of mortgages in arrears of 2.5 per cent or more of the outstanding mortgage balance falling by 7 per cent from 172,400 to 159,400.

Although arrears and repossession figures were fairly stable throughout 2011, the CML says it has no plans to revise its current 2012 forecasts, which predicts there will be 45,000 repossessions and around 180,000 mortgages in arrears.

LSL Property Services commercial director David Brown says: “The rock-bottom interest rate has placed an artificial cap on repossessions and has prevented the current squeeze on house- hold budgets from feeding into a growing number of arrears cases.

“However, with the UK’s economy in the doldrums and spending cuts taking hold, arrears and repossessions are likely to rise as the year progresses.”