THE number of Hunter home owners on the brink of losing their properties to banks and other lenders jumped almost 30 per cent in the year to December.
Sagging Hunter property prices and the increased cost of living are biting hard across the region with more than four homes a week under threat of being seized in the first three months of this year, a leap of more than 60per cent when compared to the same time last year.
Data obtained exclusively by The Newcastle Herald shows the mortgage finance sector won 214 Hunter-based writs of possession in the Supreme Court last year, compared to 167 in 2010.
The state Sheriff’s Office, responsible for removing people from their properties if they fall behind on loans, has reported a significant rise in workload this year with 64 writs won in the first three months.
Maitland financial counsellor Roger Lawes said there had been a sharp increase during the past two years in lenders taking legal action when people fell behind on loans.
‘‘The general cost of living is increasing all the time and real estate prices have gone nowhere but backwards,’’ Mr Lawes said.
‘‘People might get into trouble and start using credit cards to pay for the mortgage and it can pretty quickly spiral out of control.’’
Residents in Thornton and Edgeworth were among the most financially stressed last year, with 10 and eight writs of possession issued in the suburbs respectively.
A spokesman for the Attorney-General’s department said a writ was issued after a lender sought a Supreme Court order to take possession of a property.
He said not all writs led to repossession, with many home owners able to sort out a last-minute deal with lenders.
If the order is successful the Sheriff imposes a date by which the borrower has to leave, the property is signed over to the lender and the locks are changed. Most properties are then sold at auction.
Across NSW last year, about one-third of writs ended in evictions. In the Hunter the percentage was slightly higher at 35per cent.
There were 31 writs of possession issued for properties in Port Stephens holiday destination suburbs last year.
‘‘Obviously holiday homes and investment properties are the first to go,’’ Mr Lawes said.
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