Don’t Trust Your Lender!

Repossession House Keys

When your lender is putting pressure on you to pay off your arrears, don’t agree to a plan that doesn’t work for you and your family.

Never ever agree to pay your bank more than you can afford – either today, or on a payment plan and make sure you get every single agreement in writing.

IMPORTANT TIP: Sometimes the bank will refuse to put these agreements in writing. Instead they say something like ‘I’ll make a note on the system’. Well, in that case write to your bank with a description of your call, what was discussed and what was agreed.

The chances are the bank will not respond, but take that to a Judge and the Court will be more likely to side with you and grant you more time.

Get your free Stop Repossessions Guide Here – Updated for 2017!

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Could This Christmas Be When YOU Get Repossessed?

The Risk of Repossession at Christmas

Christmas is the worst time for anyone facing repossession. Not only does Christmas mean extra expense for everyone, but maintaining your family’s spending to keep up appearances can lead to disaster in January.

House Repossession

Is Your Home in 'Upside Down Negative Equity'?

There are some key risks to the Christmas period if you’re worried about repossession and keeping up your mortgage payments:

  • Extra spending on presents for family and friends
  • Extra use of credit cards or payday loans
  • More eating out or parties to keep up appearances at work
  • Fewer working days for most freelancers
  • A mortgage payment date over the holiday that’s easy to miss

Avoid The January Bill Shock That Could Lose You Your Home

It’s a very common theme every year when I speak to people in January as the heavier bills start arriving the week after New Year.

If you’re facing repossession over the Christmas period, then make sure you stick to any payment plan you have with your lender or the Court – especially if you have a suspended possession order already.

Find Out How to Stop Repossession Here

Mortgage Express ‘Right to Consolidate’

Sell One, Sell Them All

It’s not just owner occupiers who face the serious threat of repossession. Landlords can too, and regardless of what you think about buy to let landlords, there are far reaching consequences that can affect numerous families in other properties owned by the same landlord – even if the landlord is up to date on their mortgages!

There’s been a lot of talk on landlord forums recently about Mortgage Express and their alleged ‘right to consolidate’. What does this mean is plain English?

Basically, it means that even though buy to let borrowers who took out mortgages with Mortgage Express prior to their bankruptcy in 2008 were being offered those mortgages on a property by property basis, the Government’s lawyers (UK GOVT owns most of MX – that means us the taxpayers own it)  have found something in the small print that means they can influence what happens to a landlord who wants to sell one of his/her properties.

Innocent Tenants and Landlords Affected

We may all be familiar with the obvious fact that if a landlord defaults on some mortgages in their portfolio that the lender is likely to ask the court to be given custody of ALL the properties so that it can claim back the money borrowed. This means that tenants (who may have done nothing wrong and paid their rent on time each month) may be evicted by the lender because of actions of the landlord.

Sometimes the landlord is the innocent party and has been victim of so-called professional tenants, but just as often the landlord simply has not kept up the mortgage payments for personal reasons. Many landlords believe that they should be allowed to hold on to those properties that are not in arrears. The mortgage lenders quite logically, think otherwise. They claim that a landlord could easily allow poor quality properties in negative equity to go into arrears – giving them a headache of repossessing – whilst leaving the landlord to cherry pick their best properties to hold on to.

The human cost of this, however, is that once a BTL landlord gets into arrears on one property, the lender is likely to take control of all them, and in the case of zombie banks like Mortgage Express will do its utmost to sell the properties and get its money back, even if that means evicting otherwise innocent tenants in the process.

My Landlord is Not Facing Repossession

What is less well known is that even where a landlord wishes to sell one of his/her properties that is mortgaged with Mortgage Express, this zombie bank is now invoking a clause which says ‘sell one, sell them all’. In other words their Terms & Conditions allow MX to force a landlord selling one property to sell ALL of them and redeem ALL the mortgages at the same time. Clearly, that is impractical but the net effect of this would be the same as the lender taking control of the properties in a repossession and evicting tenants.

Why is this troubling? Well as a tenant you may breathe a sigh of relief that your landlord is one of the many good landlords who follow the regulations, behave ethically towards their tenants and always pay their mortgages on time. But, we’ve come across many examples of such landlords falling foul of MX’s new policy and only finding out at the last minute.

Even Landlords Not in Arrears Can Be At Risk

Mortgage Express state that they don’t wish to invoke this clause forcing borrowers to repay ALL loans if repaying only one, but they are then using this as leverage to insist that if a landlord sells a property that ALL proceeds from the sale must go to Mortgage Express.

To be clear this includes all money over and above the amount that the borrower has secured against the property he/she is selling. So, where landlords took out mortgages one by one over time, MX is now effectively bundling these properties together as one big loan.

Of course MX is not taking the profit and keeping it from a sale – it is using it to pay down outstanding debts on the other properties (reducing the Loan to Value and monthly payments) left in the portfolio, but it is removing the fundamental right of the property owner to decide how and when he or she sells their properties and pays down their mortgage before the term ends.

Whilst not strictly a repossession issue, this does highlight a further unstable element to the private rental sector which may easily effect tenants as well as landlords.

How can Mortgage Express act like this when they’re owned by the taxpayer? Well, that is also the perfect excuse. They can probably claim to be duty bound to provide the best possible value to the taxpayer whilst reducing their mortgage debts on their books and that this is what is driving this new policy.

FREE Ultimate Stop Repossession Guide – Updated for 2013

We’ve compiled Your Ultimate Guide To Stopping Your Repossession.

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Some Facing Repossession Still Think Their Homes Are Worth More

Sometimes it’s best to sell up and walk away or lenders may chase you for 12 years

Today I got a call from a frantic seller who is facing repossession – I’ll call him Mr. B. He owns a house in North London, but in a not so great area where prices have been steadily depressed for some time.

He told me that he has a ‘repossession order’ for next week. The first thing I try to do when someone calls in a panic to tell me about a court possession order on their home is to try an find out exactly which stage the reposession / possession is at. Many people confuse a Court Order for Possession with a Bailiffs Warrant for Possession. The two things are very different.

If you just got the first one, you have some time to sort out your finances and a very good chance to avoid repossession.

However, if you just received the Bailiffs Warrant, then look out. That’s the nasty one, and much harder to deal with simply because time is no longer on your side.

Mr B. told me that his was a bailiffs warrant for early next week. That in itself is not impossible to deal with by any means, but sometimes seller’s own expectations are simply too high.

Mr B. has a house worth £300,000 – his valuation of course, and as a homeowner like all of us, this will be the top valuation. He owes £200,000 to his mortgage lender, sub-prime specialist GMac.

He told me that he would like to sell to avoid the bailiffs coming next week. That’s a pretty tall order, to find someone who is willing to put down cash in today’s climate to buy a house in a couple of days. That would mean exchanging contracts at least and then submitting a form n244 to the court to get the bailiffs warrant suspended.

Unfortunately Mr B. also has arrears of a substantial sum of £22,000. This means that he would have to sell for a minimum of £222,000. Except that he also has a second charge loan with Black Horse Lloyds for £13,000. Once fees and penalties and costs are added to this Mr B. is looking at a minimum of £240,000 just to clear his debts.

Mr B told me that he understood that he time was against him and so he is willing to sell at a discount – but absolutely no less than £280,000.

This represents a discount against the value of the house (his valuation, mind) of approx 6.5%.

Now house prices are falling at a pretty fast rate. Lenders are telling surveyors to downvalue properties, but Mr B. not only wants someone to pay 93.5% of his price, but also wants to buyer to pay cash (no choice if they are going to exchange before the bailiffs arrive) which would almost certainly have to include the arrears of £22,000 as deposit if GMac are going to accept a conditional exchange.

I suggested to Mr B that any cash buyer will be looking at a serious discount in return for doing this in such a short time frame and any buyer is going have difficulty in remortgaging above £250k because of the stamp duty threshold.

There had already been a buyer and Mr B had used this to get the court to suspend the possesion order. Courts usually give a second chance, and the Judge did, but then the buyer pulled out.

Real Cash buyers are few and far between right now and they have the pick of hundreds of properties at fire sale prices. Even an estate agent trying to sell a home to an normal owner occupier will admit that 10-20% is the minimum discount from asking price if you really need to sell right now (and that sale would take at least 8 weeks via the normal process). If Mr B. thinks that he will find one of these normal homebuyers, with cash in hand and who doesn’t know there are bargains to be had, then he really is kidding himself.

When prices were rising, a rise in the valuation of a property of 10-20% over a 2 to 3 year period was considered by many to be a god given right. Now that values are slipping in the reverse direction many owners are clinging to the notion of ‘equity’ in their homes as their ‘money’ but that equity simply no longer exists.

I tried to get Mr B to be realistic and outlined the alternatives to him as I see them.

Reality No 1 : Find the money to pay off the arrears in a reasonable time frame and use an N244 form to apply to the Court for more time to pay GMac. Not definite but in the current climate a strong chance the Court would insist that GMac accept terms and the Court would suspend the bailiff’s warrant.

Reality No 2 : Sell the house to a cash buyer for what he owes and simply walk away from the problem with NO DEBT. Sure, he loses his home, but he keeps control of his future and his future income. With no equity in his house and huge arrears of £22,000 and mounting, what exactly is there to lose?

Reality No 3 : He waits until the last possible moment to decide on one of the options above and instead the bailiffs arrive, take control of his house and sell it at auction. GMac will sell it right now for whatever they can get (local comparisons on Auction sales sites show similar properties worth £285,000 selling at auction in the last 6 weeks for £152,000!). Mr B. may well think that is the end of the affair, but GMac won’t forget. Nor will Black Horse Loans.

Black Horse actually are quite good at turning secured charges into unsecured loans if they think they will get nothing at auction, but GMac were jsut involved in demanding repayment from Woolworth’s so they are unlikely to care about Mr B’s feelings when they use their legal right to pursue him for up to 12 years for the difference between what he owes them today and what they get for the house at auction.

Which option do you think Mr B will go for?

It’s a shame but my experience tells me it will be No 3. Instead of being honest to himself about his situation I feel he will remain in denial. After all, the whole repossession process actually takes months to get the position that he is now in. Really Mr B. is lucky. Tens of thousand’s of people are now in negative equity and don’t even have the luxury to be able to sell to anyone for enough to cover their debts and walk away debt free.

The moral of the story?

Act Now to stop your repossession!

Like any difficult situation it also helps to deal with it earlier than later. Stay in control of your own future, by either finding the funds to pay the arrears and settle with your lender in Court, or sell your home and pay off your debts. The alternative is too scary to think about.

Alistair Darling to Stop Rent Back Evictions

The Guardian reported an interesting article on sell and rent back and repossession this week:

Owen and Moira Martin are among the many British victims of companies offering controversial sale-and-rent-back deals. Their three-bedroom maisonette in Plymouth was repossessed last month because the company with which they had entered into an agreement never paid the mortgage, even though it had pocketed about £45,000 in fees from them.

Such horror stories have prompted the government to consult on how best to regulate the estimated 2,000 or so companies in the UK offering such schemes.

‘It’s been devastating,’ says Owen Martin, a supermarket worker, who has had to move into a privately rented two-bedroom flat with his wife. ‘We made sure the rent was paid, but we lost our home anyway because the company we sold to never paid the mortgage company.’

The Office of Fair Trading estimated in its recent report into the sector that some 50,000 sale-and-rent-back transactions had taken place. Operators offer to buy the property of someone facing repossession at a discount price, allowing the former mortgagee to remain in the property as a tenant. They usually also charge significant fees.

Read the full story at the Guardian website

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2008/nov/09/rent-back-evictions

Now There’s Even a House Prices Crash Calculator

After years of talking up the property boom and the ‘you can’t lose with property’ articles in the media, the newspapers are now full of doom and gloom about the future of UK house prices.

The reality may be that a housing market depression may be caused by nothing more than the fact that we all start to believe that house prices will fall, we don’t put our houses on the market and we don’t try to move home.

This means that house prices will fall and those affected most will not be those who can ride out the storm and stay put in their homes, but those who are facing repossession.

This Is Money the website arm of the London Evening Standard have even published a price crash calculator so that if you aren’t scared enough already, you can truly frighten yourself into worrying about what your house will be worth if prices fall the same way they did in 1992!

The threat of negative equity however is now a very real one and millions of people will find it impossible to refinance their mortgages and will be forced onto their lenders’ top standard variable rates.