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Spectre of negative equity still stalks the streets.

The spectre of negative equity is still haunting the housing market, according to financial group Mortgage Express.

Hundreds of homeowners whose properties are worth less than the mortgage taken out on them have contacted the firm for help this year.

'What we are seeing is a continuing hangover from the early to mid-1990s,' Tim Dawson, managing director of Mortgage Express, said.

'Despite what some people might think, negative equity has never really gone away and there are still pockets around the country where it is still in evidence.'

Some of the worst places affected are parts of the North-west, especially the area around Salford, some of the new housing estates on the outskirts of Bristol and Corby, in Northamptonshire.

Those affected are mainly those who bought at the height of the property boom in the late 1980s and early 1990s and whose properties are still struggling to get back to those levels after the crash of the 1990s.

'Certain property types seem to have fallen out of favour over the past ten years and so owners have seen their prices rise more slowly than those of other people's homes,' said Mr Dawson.

'The properties most badly affected have been the studio or one-bedroom flats, often built in the boom of the late 1980s when builders were throwing up blocks of flats to meet the increased demand.

'In the 1990s, when prices dropped back, new buyers tended to overlook these types of property and leapfrog on to more spacious accommodation.

'We have dealt with hundreds of cases of negative equity this year and we estimate that over the country as a whole there are probably thousands of cases.'

Mortgage Express said the problem was serious enough for it to have produced a special negative equity mortgage designed to allow householders to move home and take their negative equity with them as part of the new mortgage.

James Rebbeck, of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said he had no precise figures about the level of negative equity but added: 'It's no surprise to hear that there are some pockets of the country where negative equity is still a problem.

'It's certainly true that there are some areas round Greater Manchester, for example, where house prices have simply collapsed so that in some streets houses can be bought for pounds 3,000 or pounds 4,000. If you had bought there ten years ago you might well be in negative equity today.'
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 12, 2000
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