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Page last updated at 12:02 GMT, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 13:02 UK

Mortgage Misery

The Taljaards have huge debts and cannot sell their home.

Francois and Denise Taljaard are feeling the personal pain of the global credit squeeze.

They moved to Bristol from South Africa five years ago.

Their son Francois Jnr is Bristol born and bred.

Like millions of other people they worked full time - to buy their own home.

Their mortgage was almost 100% of the value of the property which didn't leave them much wriggle room if things went wrong.

Over the edge

But the problems started when Francois became ill.

As many as 78,000 families risk being trapped by negative equity, as the value of their home sinks below their mortgage

He said: "I was off work for a period of about three odd months and that was just enough to sort of push us over the edge."

Determined not to miss a mortgage payment, they started using credit cards to pay for other household bills.

Denise said it had been easy getting the credit at the time.

"Very very easy. When we originally started with a credit card sort of thing it was just basically for those little things which we were able to pay off within a month."

But as time went on, it became harder to pay the money back.

Denis Taljaard
It makes me feel like we've failed. We came here hoping for a better future
Denise Taljaard
The couple decided to sell their home to clear their debts and the mortgage - but then the credit crunch hit home.

Denise said: "Unfortunately the mortgage rates have gone up so much that the young buyers' aren't interested in looking at the moment and the area that we live in is a very much first time buyer sort of area."

The more their house falls in value, the smaller the chance of paying back their loans. If things get worse, they could face insolvency or repossession.

Denise: "It makes me feel like we've failed. We came here hoping for a better futureż and we felt so lucky that we were so young."

But the Taljaards are not alone.

As many as 78,000 families risk being trapped by negative equity, as the value of their home sinks below their mortgage.

Panorama: Feeling the Pinch was on BBC One 8.30pm on Monday 14 April 2008.

If you miss Panorama you can catch up online with the BBC's iPlayer where the programme will be available for seven days after transmission. BBC iPlayer.



video and audio news
Panorama: Feeling the Pinch



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