More misery for the property have-nots

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All the barometers of the housing market are pointing to an eventual recovery, but yesterday's repossessions figures show that unsettled conditions still prevail. Although the first half of this year did not bring the increase that many commentators had feared, there was barely any decline from the second half of last year. About 50,000 families a year are still losing their homes. Between 750,000 and a million home owners have properties worth less than the size of their mortgage.

The start of a recovery in house prices, which is clearly under way, was always expected to allow lenders to repossess more properties as it became worth selling them. So the absence of any clear downward trend in the figures is not a surprise. However, they do emphasise the most serious problem hanging over the housing market. That is the concentration of misery among certain groups of people.

The fact that the housing market recovery is greater for the upper sectors of the market and more prosperous areas is only increasing the divisions between the property market haves and have-nots.