Lowest number of home repossessions in three years reported

According to a recent report, the number of homes repossessed by lenders in the third quarter this year has dropped to its lowest level in the last three years.

Disclosing the details yesterday, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) said 9,145 people lost their homes to lenders in the third quarter of this year, fewer than second quarter numbers and lowest since 2007s last quarter.

Also, fewer people fell behind on their monthly repayments, a trend recorded for the seventh straight quarter. The total number of people falling behind their repayment schedule with at least 1.5 percent of their total mortgage outstanding was recorded at 345,000 for the quarter, a rise of 36,600 over previous quarter.

A little fewer than 8 percent of these borrowers are paying partial installments to their lenders under a renegotiated deal or not anything at all – since their accounts have been suspended.

A total of 16,184 home-owners accrued an additional £44 million to their existing mortgages in the third quarter, a measure devised to help borrowers. Overall 55 percent of borrowers who are in arrears are paying the lenders, up from 41 percent recorded at the end of 2008.

The data released yesterday is in conformity with the data released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). CML data showed that home repossessions were down at a two-and-a-half year low to 8,900 for the third quarter.

An additional 176,100 people were behind their repayment schedule with the total outstanding on their mortgage being 2.5 percent or more. The total number of homes repossessed in the first nine months of 2010 was reported at 28,400, indicating that the total number for the whole year will be lower than its revised estimate of 39,000. However, CML had originally estimated the figure at 53,000 for 2010, which was later lowered to 39,000.

Since the FSA’s survey also includes second charge mortgages and lenders who are not CML members the numbers reported are higher.

Repossession levels recorded during the economic crisis were generally lower than projected because of government support, lower interest rates and restraint shown by lenders.

FSA numbers also suggest that the mortgage market is slowly picking up pace with net lending recorded at £8.3 billion for the third quarter. Net lending represents the total advances made less prepayment & repayments received.

Net lending is up by 40 percent over the last quarter and 27 percent more than last year, same quarter. However, total amount of home loans sanctioned is lower by 6 percent over last quarter and has been recorded at £38 billion.


Housing market growth is stunted

According to results of a survey, a lack of demand from first time home buyers and negative sentiments about the general economic conditions is causing a fall in housing demand.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors said that the trend of falling prices continued in November. New home enquiries, new deals closed and average sales per surveyor fell further in November than over the previous month. The trend is visible across the UK with overall lower activity in the sector.

However, Surveyors believe that the market generally slows down towards the end of the year and more sellers will put their properties on the market in 2011.

The survey – renowned across the industry, actually reinforces the recent findings of lenders like Halifax and Nationwide.

43% of the surveyors observed that prices have remained stable over the last three months. However, many more disagreed and said prices have actually fallen by a small amount.

First time home buyers struggled to secure a mortgage loan – as evident from the lower number of new buyer enquiries. The negative trend has been recorded for the sixth straight month.

“Despite some better economic data, fears over how future spending cuts will impact on the jobs market are clearly still weighing heavily on potential purchasers’ minds, with many deciding to wait and see until the new year”, observed Ian Perry – spokesman for RICS. “Meanwhile, the lack of mortgage finance continues to deter first time buyers”, he added.

Individual surveyors are so optimistic and fear that the trend may spill over to the next year. Derek Coates of Liverpool said: “The new year looks to be slow with little buyer confidence”.

“We are now entering the winter season and some vendors are putting off the sale of their properties until the spring”, added Stuart Allen of Bishop Auckland.


Sainsbury Faces Major Fine on Complaint of Excessive Packaging on a Meat Product

Sainsbury is facing court charges over how one of its products is packaged thanks to the 2003 Packing Regulations Act. Basically the packaging of one of its products has been determined as being excessive and damaging to the environment due to potential waste. Now marketing a product for potential sale and profits will no longer be the sole determination for a company and consideration of environmental waste will be a factor.

Most companies are aware that they should do more to help the environment. Such a directive is attractive to consumers as well as investors. Even if being a “green” company isn’t a priority for executives, it no longer can be absent from a company’s plans. The fact that Sainsbury is facing possible fines for packaging of a product means it has to be a consideration now to meet legal regulations.

The problem with the Packing Regulations Act is that there is no precise wording as to what constitutes excessive packaging. Sainsbury is being prosecuted over a Taste the Difference beef joint. The cut of meat is vacuum-packed and then stored in a tray covered by a plastic lid. A printed cardboard sleeve identifies the product and nutritional information. The Lincolnshire county council’s trading standards director Peter Hearfield initiated the legal action after receiving a call from a concerned shopper over the beef joint’s packaging.

He said: “Excessive packaging on goods can cause unnecessary damage to the environment and increases costs associated with recycling and landfill.”

Sainsbury expressed surprise over the legal move. They insist that the packaging has already been reduced by 53 per cent since the complaint was made in February. A spokeswoman for the company said the company had set goals to cut packaging by a third by 2015.

Despite the supermarket’s changes to the product packaging and talks with council the prosecution is still going ahead with spending taxpayer’s money and will pursue their case on October 13. If found guilty of failing to meet the Packaging Regulations Act’s requirement to minimize a product’s impact on the environment then Sainsbury could be fined 5,000 by magistrates or a larger sum could be considered should the case be heard in a higher court. This is believed to be the first case of a product excessive packaging.


South-East England properties are most expensive

The value of properties in the south-east of England is more than that of the combined value of properties in Wales, the Midlands, Yorkshire and the North, according to a survey conducted by property consultancy firm Savills.

The south-east region – including London, alone accounts for one third of the country’s total house prices, reflecting the huge disparity that exists in homeowner’s wealth across the country.
Surrey tops the chart among the counties, with total property wealth valued at £130 billion.

London’s richest borough is Chelsea and Kensington, part of the most affluent central districts with a total valuation of £63 billion. The borough commands a price of £50 million per hectare.
By the end of the boom period in 2007, all homeowners had benefitted with home prices increasing by £2,500 billion between 2000 and 2007.

The global meltdown had wiped out £600 billion in property values in 2008 and 2009. However, the unexpected rebound saw £600 billion worth of price recovery in 2010.

The survey shows that the new wealth has been essentially created by the older generations, who had paid off their mortgages and have seen their property prices rise since.

83 percent of the nations housing wealth is owned by owners aged above 45 while 40 percent of the nation’s home equity is owned by people aged over 65 years.

Lucian Cook, Director of residential research at Savills commented “The big question for the next decade will be how and if, this wealth will be redistributed to a younger generation”.

“It is little wonder then that we are a nation obsessed with the state of the housing market, but it is the distribution of that wealth that is likely to shape both the housing market, household formation and wider society going forward”.

The most heartening development though remains the low loan-to-value ratio of 30 percent. This means that on an average, 30 percent of the property value is funded by bank loan and the rest 70 percent has been funded by the owner.

The net value of property wealth has been estimated at £2,900 billion with total mortgage debt outstanding valued at £1,250 billion.


55 arrests made at royal wedding celebrations

In an unprecedented covert and overt police operation in effect for friday’s royal wedding festivities, approximately 5,000 officers were on the streets of London to police a million-strong crowd cheering on Prince William and Kate Middleton as they tied the knot.

In their largest security operation in over a generation, British police said their handling of the royal wedding had been an “amazing success” as the day went ahead without any disruption to the celebrations.

Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens said her officers should be “immensely proud” of their role in the “happy and safe” event.

The security operation included pre-event raids throughout London, thousands of of officers lining the procession route and snipers and spotters scanning the streets below from rooftops throughout the area.

In all, 55 arrests were made with 5 offically charged. A further three people have been bailed without charge. Included in the arrests was a man spotted taking suspicious photographs of transport hubs and security personnel in the Charing Cross area, a group of people at Charing Cross railway station carrying climbing equipment and anti-monarchy placards, and masked anarchists from the Right Royal Orgy Group gathered in Soho Square. Other offenses included an alleged sex attack on a 14-year-old girl, criminal damage and 25 breaches of the peace.

Owens commented, “A number of individuals were arrested who we felt were intent on causing disruption, committing acts of criminality or likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress to the vast majority of people who wanted to come and celebrate this joyous occasion.”

Scotland Yard believes their successful performance should convince people they are ready for the 2012 London Olympics and Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee next year.

Helping the success of the day was the good behavior of the crowds who adhered to police restrictions and crowd control.


Italian PM in Sex Scandal

Italian prosecutors are requesting that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi be put on trial for engaging in sexual intercourse with 17-year-old prostitute Karima El Mahroug, along with many other underage girls, at parties at his residential home.

It is an offence to pay for sex with girls under the age of 18 in Italy.

The girl nicknamed Ruby the Heartstealer, was being detained after allegations of theft, when the 74-year-old leader used his power to have her released. She also denies that the pair had sex, stating that the money she received from the Prime Minister was for other reasons.

The Prime Minister denies all charges, claiming that leftist magistrates are trying to ‘Drive him out of power’. He also claims that the reason he demanded that she be released from prison was because he believed that she was the daughter of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, which was later deemed untrue.

Prosecutor Edomondo Bruti Liberati said he would file the request with a court in Milan on Wednesday. An ‘anti-Berlusconi’ protest will also take place this weekend.


Ipod ban for US runners

Lawmakers in the US are looking to stop people using Ipods while running and people texting while walking.

Officials in Arkansas and New York are looking to cut down on distracted runners and pedestrians, claiming that their diverted attention causes too many accidents.

Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, said “It’s not just distracted drivers. We focus a lot on distracted drivers, but we also need to focus on distracted walkers and joggers,”

In Arkansas, the proposal would ban pedestrians from using headphones in both ears while on, parallel to or adjacent to a street, road, intersection or highway. This also applies to runners and cyclists, and allows them to use earphones in one ear.

“You might not get the full effect of the Boston Symphony Orchestra with one ear, but you at least will be aware of your surroundings,” said Senator Jimmy Jeffress, an Arkansas Democrat who was a driving force behind the proposal.

In the New York there has been call to ban the use of any electronic device while crossing the street since 2007, Democratic State Senator Carl Kruger wants a proposal in place that would mean, the use of an electronic device while crossing streets in a city with a population of one million or more, would result a 100 dollar (£62) civil fine.

In America, the use of mobile phones while driving is being tackled slowing, with 30 states and the district of Columbia banning texting while driving, and many others putting restrictions on the use of mobiles behind the wheel.


The Middle Age Crisis is Hitting a Younger Age Group That Includes the Likes of Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez

A study has revealed that those in their thirties and forties are the most miserable and unhappy than any other age group. It is due to the pressure of becoming successful at a younger age. This has put people worrying and stressing over their age doing so at a much younger time in their life than others in past decades.

This would mean stars such as Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, and Johnny Depp would be among those feeling the pressure of their age and its effect on their careers. Athletes are younger when achieving great fame and so those that would have been considered still quite young with vast experience like David Beckham are instead at an age of worry.

Politics is another arena where success is being seen at a younger level and pressure on others will be mounting for those that are in the same field. Ed Milliband, the new leader of the Labour Party is only 40. David Cameron was a mere 43 when he became Prime Minister.

The study was conducted last month by Relate and the broadband giant TalkTalk. More than 2,000 people participated in the study. Of those aged 35 to 44 one fifth reported feeling depressed or lonely. The group above age 65 only had 13 per cent reporting the same and yet that is the group that is usually considered the group to report more loneliness.

Many of the younger people felt they were too busy with work and felt they would have better relationships if they worked less. They blamed mobile phones and emails as a cause of working more making them more highly accessible and it was considered a source of stress in their relationships. An astonishingly 40 per cent in the 35 to 44 age group believed their partners had been unfaithful.

Cary Cooper, professor of occupational psychology at Lancaster University, was an advisor on the study. He commented on the results saying: “We did not go out to look at this younger group, but the research showed both men and women of this age are coming out the worst. They are the most lonely, striving in their career, working long hours, with little or no time to invest in relationships.

“I am not advocating some sort of French-style 35-hour week. We need to work hard, but we need to be smarter.

“Technology means many people can work more flexibly and more productively. This message has not got through to a lot of men yet.”

Claire Tyler, chief executive of Relate, said: “Traditionally, we associate the mid-life crisis with people in their late forties to fifties, but the report reveals that this period could be reaching people earlier than we would expect.

“And it’s no coincidence that we see people in this age group in the biggest numbers at Relate.

“It’s when life gets really hard – you’re starting a family, pressure at work can be immense and money worries can be crippling.

“The ensuing effects of relationship breakdown on society are huge, so it’s really important that this age group has access to appropriate and relevant support, be that through friends and family or other methods such as counseling.”


Natalie Portman takes a break to enjoy pregnancy

Black Swan and Beautiful Girl star, Natalie Portman, who is expecting her first child with fiancé ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied has confessed that she will be stepping out of the spotlight and will enjoy putting her feet up and enjoying the rest of her pregnancy and becoming a mother for the first time.

Portman is known for the head strong ways, being a strong supporter of animal rights and environmental causes since a young age,

“When I am in my womb-like environment, I am hoping the baby is feeling peaceful,”

She is also a woman who knows what she wants; she has decided to keep fit through her pregnancy and has taken up swimming in order to do so.

“I have been swimming every day,” the 29 year old engaged mum to be told a US Magazine of her pregnancy workout routine backstage at Sunday’s Golden Globes.

Portman insisted also talked about how well her pregnancy was going,

“I feel happy and I think when you’re happy you’re always glowing.”

“I told director Darren Aronofsky, I was like,’ First you got me skinny, and now you’re getting me fat,’ because he introduced me to my fiancé, It’s the greatest gift he ever gave me.”

Clearly life is going well for the actress, but do you think Natalie will add an Oscar to her new baby?


Natalie Portman “so excited” for her pregnancy

Natalie Portman has been revelling in joy since the announcement of her pregnancy in December.

The Hollywood star revealed she was “so excited” about being pregnant and her engagement to the love of her life.

The 29 year old is set to marry fiancé and New York City ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied and the baby is thought to be due by the summer.

During the premiere of her new film No Strings Attached, Natalie said “I’m so excited about what’s happening in my private life and everything else seems like, you know, just extra additional joy.

“I just feel very very lucky for all of it.”

The actress is said to be taking some time off work following the end of the awards season, looking forward to enjoying her pregnancy before the baby arrives.

Natalie may have more reason for joy as she has been tipped for success at the Oscars following her role in ballet thriller, Black Swan.

Despite leading a busy professional life, Natalie remains positive, she said “it definitely makes me feel calmer about everything to really be in such a lucky place in my personal life.”

With a history of seductive and intimate roles in the films that she stars in, the actress is unsure whether she will continue the role as she approaches motherhood. She said “I just have no idea what it is going to be like, I’ll figure out the right choices when it happens.”