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Google search topics reveal growing worries about repossessions

Homeowners are increasingly researching into mortgage repossessions online, signalling that many are worried about falling behind on their payments.

The research by Octane Capital measured the number of Google searches of specific terms that took place over the course of a month. 

A value of 100 means a term has peak popularity, with 50 meaning it’s half as popular.


Searches for ‘mortgage repossessions’ increased by 49 per cent in October from the month before, and by 88 per cent since the start of the year, to stand at 37.25. 

While more people are researching what happens if they fall into arrears, this at least comes from a low base, as the search score for mortgage repossessions stood at only 19.80 in January.

The rapid increase in the Bank of England base rate has filtered through to mortgage rates, leaving many homeowners struggling.

The base rate stood at 0.1 per cent as of December 2021, but by August 2023 it skyrocketed to 5.25 per cent as the Bank looked to curb inflation. 

The silver lining as it’s held steady since then, and the Bank’s appetite for further rises appears to have dissipated after the UK inflation rate dropped to 4.6 per cent in October.

Regardless, some mortgage holders are struggling to make their repayments, as google searches for ‘mortgage holiday’ have increased month-on-month by 4.4 per cent to stand at 53.75 in October 2023.

People worried about mortgage affordability should contact their lender to see if they can get some leeway, perhaps in the form of a payment holiday or reduction.

The chief executive of Octane Capital, Jonathan Samuels, comments: “It’s been a testing year for homeowners, and that’s reflected by the increased number looking into mortgage repossessions to find out what happens if they can’t pay.

“One thing’s for sure, going through a repossession process should be a last resort, so if you’re a homeowner worried about falling into arrears and being repossessed then contact your lender as soon as possible.

“They could give you leeway in the form of a payment holiday, or even extend your mortgage term to keep monthly payments lower.

“If you think the only way out is selling your property you’re better doing that yourself to maximise the price, rather than going down the route of a repossession.”


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