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Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 15:55 UK
Credit crunch hits homeowners

by Catherine Burns
Newsbeat reporter

House prices are down, driving costs are up and don't even think about fuel bills. All year we've been following some Newsbeat listeners as they try to sort out their finances. And now it's crunch time for one of them.

Chris

Everyone told Chris buying a house with his girlfriend was a great idea. But two years on, he thinks it the worst thing he's ever done.

First they got badly flooded and had to move out for six months. Then, his girlfriend left him. And now, he's got a whole new problem.

He bought the house for 153,000 and spent thousands on it but now it's only worth 140,000. That's less than what he owes on the mortgage.

And to make things more difficult, his fixed rate deal is about to end, which means payments are going to shoot up.

He's taken this seriously and even took a couple of weeks off work to find the best possible option.

He went to different mortgage companies, but they all said they couldn't help him.
The dramatic and unpredictable events of the last few months in the market mean that these people have got no options
Chris Tapp, Creditaction

He originally borrowed 95% of the house's value in his mortgage. But, thanks to the credit crunch, banks just won't lend that much anymore.

The best he could get now would be 90%. So, before he could switch onto a better deal, he'd have to find thousands of extra pounds to make up that 5%.

He's not the only one in this position. Chris Tapp is from the charity Creditaction, and says about 2 million people have been affected in the same way.

He said: "I wish there was a quick and easy solution. But unfortunately the dramatic and unpredictable events of the last few months in the market mean that these people have got no options. They're completely stuck."

Which means our other Chris has got to either win the lottery, or stay with his mortgage when it moves up to the more expensive rate.

He's worried that will push his payments up to a thousand pounds a month.
For sale signs
UK house prices have fallen for an 11th consecutive month

"That leaves me about 150 a month, just for food, running the car and going out.

"I won't have any money at all really. I'll just be popping round my mum's, eating at her table I suppose," he said.

Debt counsellor Chris said that's going to be difficult, but not impossible.

He said the best thing anyone in this situation can do is try to ride it out.

"The hope is, that as things settle down a bit, we'll start to see the banks loosen up their lending, so people will only have to pay these increased payments for a short period of time," he said.

"Six months down the line, they'll look for better mortgage deals."

In the meantime, his advice is to budget carefully.

He advised to look at where you can make cutbacks, especially on things like food bills. And remember, this won't last for ever.

"In the long term, property is still a pretty good bet. It's a case of keeping up the mortgage payments and riding out the rough patch until things get better."



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