Friday, 9 May 2008

The repossession bubble

Today, the Ministry of Justice provided further evidence of the unfolding housing market disaster. Repossessions in England and Wales are on the rise.

The first quarter data showed an acceleration in repossession claims. Between 2006-7, claims had stabilised at around 33,000 a quarter. Suddenly, that figure has jumped to over 40,000.


If repossession claims continue at this rate for the year as a whole, then the annual rate will be close to the peak of 180,000 observed during the last housing downturn in 1991.


However, repossessions are not evenly spread across the country. In London, the number fell fractionally. Everywhere else, repossessions are growing at double digit rates.

The rise in repossession claims explains why the banks are frantically trying to exit the mortgage market. Defaults are on the rise, and in all likelihood will exceed the levels seen during the last housing crash.

This thing is coming down faster than anyone could have predicted.

14 comments:

Vado said...

I don't think I can keep reading this blog. It is too depressing.

aSteve said...

Too depressing? On the contrary!

I wish there were a 1990 to today graph showing the monthly/quarterly(?) totals... I'd like to see a long-term graph with an upwards spike for the most recent time slice. ;)

Something that we must consider today is "payment holidays" - which mortgage originators are inclined to use to avoid arrears... as far as I am aware, that didn't happen in the early 90s. I imagine that this is slowing down the effects of this bust... at the long-term expense of investors.

CWS said...

That number is going to grow and grow.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Alice, you're good at charts and correlations and stuff, so can you adjust the 'claims', 'orders' and 'repossessions' to take into account the time lag between the two?

If you look at your chart, it shows that 'claims' bottomed out and started rising again first, then 'orders' and then 'repossessions'. Which suggests to me that the lag between 'claims' and 'repossessions' might be as long as three years.

This'll help us predict the future, i.e. give a good idea as to when to think seriosuly about buying a house.

Ta muchly in advance!

Alice Cook said...

Mark,

The three variables used in the post are actually quite closely contemporaneously correlated. I very much doubt that there is any information in the lags that could be used to predict the optimal moment to buy a house.

There is always a danger of looking to the past in order to see the future. This crash has many different features to the last one, and I doubt if there is much we could learn by looking back at 1989-91.

This one starts from a far higher level of personal debt, lower interest rates, and an economy far less diversifed than back in 1989. The rate of decline of house prices is faster, and banks are more vulnerable to a systemic crisis.

Anyway, when are you going to put a link in your site to this blog? I will put in one for your site - and as my dear old nana Cook says, "a fair trade is no robbery".

Alice

Roy said...

Any idea why repossessions are falling in London - very old that.

Anonymous said...

Seen this rubbish:

http://property.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/property/article3893224.ece

Life is tough for would-be London renters
It's not just amateur landlords who are suffering the current housing market conditions - tenants are having a pretty tough time too, as I have discovered. My hopes of finding a sweet little loft conversion for £200 a week in East London, outlined in Bricks and Mortar last month, have so far come to naught. Like thousands of homeseekers across the capital, I have dashed to viewings after work only to be wholly disappointed at the poor quality of flats on offer and the ubiquity of laminate flooring. Having whinged about the near-extinction of old-fashioned small-time landlords in the East End, I jumped at the chance to view a privately owned one-bedroom flat advertised in Loot.

When I rang the landlord to arrange a viewing, I noticed that he was a bit grumpy but was pleased that he lived on site and sounded quite old and not too precious. Things were looking promising: it was within my original budget (very, very rare), it was in Victoria Park in Hackney, which is one of my top locations (huge leafy park, nice cafés and rows of big Victorian houses), and there would be no agents' fees. As I practically skipped to the viewing, along a gorgeous street of large terraced houses, I realised that the house number I was looking for was above a shop. I remained optimistic because the shop was disused and looked a bit Eighties, the antithesis of the uniform new-builds that I hate.

There was no doorbell so I telephoned the landlord. He answered the door and, although friendly, reeked of stale booze and needed a shave. I was a tiny bit frightened. We walked along a corridor that reminded me of a student hall of residence, with lots of fire doors and a filthy, hardwearing carpet. Blindly hopeful, I trusted that a gem of a flat lay hidden just beyond the next doorway. The truth was somewhat different. The flat was in the basement and looked like a squat. Plaster was crumbling from the walls, bare lightbulbs glared from the ceilings and the oven was standing derelict in the middle of the dirty kitchen. The bedroom was miniscule, with space only for a single bed.

“It's in an all-right state really, it just needs cleaning up,” the landlord informed me, “and the sofabed in the main room is fine to sleep on, I've tried it.” I looked at the brown Seventies sofabed and grotty little kitchen and tried to envisage my life there. “Of course I'll do it up for you in whatever style you like,” he went on, “or you could do it up yourself and live here rent-free while you do it.”

He said that the previous tenants had just moved out; how he rented out the place at all in this state I do not know, let alone for almost £800 a month.

I thought maybe it was just this flat that was particularly bad; could he show me one of the upstairs rooms that he had mentioned? He could, but we had to go into his flat, at the back of the building, to get the keys. “I'll introduce you to my 11 cats,” he said. We arrived in a cramped sitting room, with a sofa that the landlord evidently used as a bed. There were dusty black-and-white pictures of school sports teams and a huge Union Jack hanging on the wall. He asked where I worked and, learning that I worked for The Times, became overtly polite.

The upstairs room made my university bedroom look like a suite at The Dorchester. He touched some distinctly crusty peach-coloured curtains and said: “These are new, actually.” What, new in 1980?

On the way out, the landlord added a final remark that has stayed with me: “I understand that it's a bit rough for a lady who works at The Times. I have all kinds of tenants here that have no respect. The DSS lot are the worst; they let

Anonymous said...

Seen this rubbish:

http://property.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/property/article3893224.ece

Life is tough for would-be London renters
It's not just amateur landlords who are suffering the current housing market conditions - tenants are having a pretty tough time too, as I have discovered. My hopes of finding a sweet little loft conversion for £200 a week in East London, outlined in Bricks and Mortar last month, have so far come to naught. Like thousands of homeseekers across the capital, I have dashed to viewings after work only to be wholly disappointed at the poor quality of flats on offer and the ubiquity of laminate flooring. Having whinged about the near-extinction of old-fashioned small-time landlords in the East End, I jumped at the chance to view a privately owned one-bedroom flat advertised in Loot.

When I rang the landlord to arrange a viewing, I noticed that he was a bit grumpy but was pleased that he lived on site and sounded quite old and not too precious. Things were looking promising: it was within my original budget (very, very rare), it was in Victoria Park in Hackney, which is one of my top locations (huge leafy park, nice cafés and rows of big Victorian houses), and there would be no agents' fees. As I practically skipped to the viewing, along a gorgeous street of large terraced houses, I realised that the house number I was looking for was above a shop. I remained optimistic because the shop was disused and looked a bit Eighties, the antithesis of the uniform new-builds that I hate.

There was no doorbell so I telephoned the landlord. He answered the door and, although friendly, reeked of stale booze and needed a shave. I was a tiny bit frightened. We walked along a corridor that reminded me of a student hall of residence, with lots of fire doors and a filthy, hardwearing carpet. Blindly hopeful, I trusted that a gem of a flat lay hidden just beyond the next doorway. The truth was somewhat different. The flat was in the basement and looked like a squat. Plaster was crumbling from the walls, bare lightbulbs glared from the ceilings and the oven was standing derelict in the middle of the dirty kitchen. The bedroom was miniscule, with space only for a single bed.

“It's in an all-right state really, it just needs cleaning up,” the landlord informed me, “and the sofabed in the main room is fine to sleep on, I've tried it.” I looked at the brown Seventies sofabed and grotty little kitchen and tried to envisage my life there. “Of course I'll do it up for you in whatever style you like,” he went on, “or you could do it up yourself and live here rent-free while you do it.”

He said that the previous tenants had just moved out; how he rented out the place at all in this state I do not know, let alone for almost £800 a month.

I thought maybe it was just this flat that was particularly bad; could he show me one of the upstairs rooms that he had mentioned? He could, but we had to go into his flat, at the back of the building, to get the keys. “I'll introduce you to my 11 cats,” he said. We arrived in a cramped sitting room, with a sofa that the landlord evidently used as a bed. There were dusty black-and-white pictures of school sports teams and a huge Union Jack hanging on the wall. He asked where I worked and, learning that I worked for The Times, became overtly polite.

The upstairs room made my university bedroom look like a suite at The Dorchester. He touched some distinctly crusty peach-coloured curtains and said: “These are new, actually.” What, new in 1980?

On the way out, the landlord added a final remark that has stayed with me: “I understand that it's a bit rough for a lady who works at The Times. I have all kinds of tenants here that have no respect. The DSS lot are the worst; they let

Anonymous said...

Good post. But I don't thing it's unravelling faster than ANYONE predicted.

Nick

Anonymous said...

Good post. But I don't thing it's unravelling faster than ANYONE predicted.

Nick

Mark Wadsworth said...

Done.

Alice Cook said...

Nick

OK, fair point. It is faster than I thought, that is for sure. I had in mind a slow relentless decline over several years.

So, it is "unravelling faster than I and 99.9 percent of the population thought possible".

Alice

aSteve said...

I think that the rate of correction is one of the most relevant questions facing us today.

My personal anticipation is that both you and Nick are right. I expect a relatively sudden fall in nominal prices - and, thereafter, a relentless fall in real prices for the best part of a decade. It has only been the perception that house prices go up faster than inflation "that's just how it is" that has perpetuated confidence in the house price bubble. I think/hope that the next couple of years will be sufficient to change popular opinion... and houses will become seen as an expense of consumption not investment.

David said...

Plenty of overtime available down at the country court.