Homeowners relaxed about negative equity

Stephan Shakespeare
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IN the latest YouGov SixthSense Mortgages Report, mortgage holders were asked to estimate the current value of their household and cost of their mortgage.

Ninety-one per cent who were able to give these figures were in positive equity with nearly one in ten recording a no equity or negative equity score.

This data is in line with figures released Monday by the Bank of England which put the scale of negative equity at between four and five per cent of all UK mortgage holders: translating into approximately half a million UK households currently operating at levels of debt outweighing the value of existing assets.

In addition to those in negative equity, the YouGov report puts eight per cent of mortgage holders in the “no equity” bracket – the point at which asset value just meets debt – translating into 1.5m households teetering on the brink of negative equity.

When coupled with Bank of England figures that suggest one in five mortgage holders have debts exceeding 75 per cent of the value of their properties, it makes for a bleak forecast for lenders.

The average level of negative equity among those in negative equity is £52,338. On this basis, these adults will not come out of negative equity until house prices rise by 37 per cent.

Meanwhile, it would appear that negative equity is most severe for people who bought a property between 2000 and 2008, especially those buying at the peak of the market in 2005 to 2007.

The graph shows that the negative equity is disproportionally present amongst mortgage holders below the age of 35 while a no equity status is a rarity over the age of 55.

Despite this, mortgage holders would appear to be taking it all in their stride.

When asked to rate their concerns about negative equity those in negative equity or with no equity appear pretty sanguine, the majority neither overly worried nor blissfully dismissive of the consequences.

Stephan Shakespeare is chief executive of YouGov