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Rock repossession stock leaps 63%

Northern Rock’s number of unsold repossessed properties rose by a massive 63% in a year, its annual results reveal.

The nationalised lender saw its stock of repossessed homes rocket from 2,215 in 2007 to 3,620 last year.

Its Together mortgage range, which accounts for 29% of its mortgage book, saw arrears of more than three months jump to 4.53% in 2008 compared with 0.95% the previous year.

Northern Rock reported a full-year pre-tax loss of 1.4bn, with its losses more than doubling since the first half of last year.

Following the government’s decision to allow the lender to start attracting mortgage business again, Gary Hoffman, chief executive of Northern Rock, says the bank can now return to what it does best – mortgage lending.

He says: “We have an exciting opportunity to help consumers in the mortgage and savings markets while protecting the interests of taxpayers. I’m confident we will deliver on this opportunity.” The Asset Management Group says its analysis of the properties it manages shows that the number of repossessed homes under offer shot up by 10% in the first two months of 2009.

AMG says this represents a return to the sort of levels last seen in 2005.

Simon Matthews, managing director of AMG, says that while the rising number of repossessions is a cause for concern, the fact that properties are being sold and market activity is increasing is a positive sign.

But it could also be a sign of decreasing choice for would-be buyers.

Matthews adds: “One reason for the increase in activity could be that there’s not a huge amount of gen-eral housing stock coming onto the market so repossessed homes repre-sent a higher percentage of the properties available.”

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