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Repossessions 32% higher in North

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The property divide is widening, as the pace of repossession in the north of the country steps up.

According to e.surv chartered surveyors, in the first half of 2012 there were 1.8 repossessions per 1,000 households in the north, 32% more than the south, which saw 1.4 repossessions per 1,000 households.

The research found the gap has widened from a 7% difference in mid-2006 to 32% as of the beginning of August this year. e.surv has used the Humber to the Wash definition for the north-south split.

The north-west, the M62 corridor and industrial Yorkshire are the regions where repossessions are highest. The north has suffered the most public sector job cuts, which has pushed unemployment up well above the national average of 7.8% in some northern areas, particularly inner city areas which have been traditionally dependent on local council employment. As a result, more borrowers in the north have failed to keep up with their mortgage repayments.

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), also in the north, complete the top three. Of the top 20 postcodes where repossessions are highest, 15 are in the north. Conversely, southern towns almost exclusively populate the list of areas with the lowest proportion of repossessions. Just 3 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.”