Homes repossessed as owners fail to keep up loan payments

Housing loans comprise 66.8 percent of the household loans from banks and the trend, according to the Bank of Greece, is increasing all the time. Of the 30,557 billion euros Greeks owed to banks in November 2002, 20,416 billion were for housing loans. Some say the bubble will burst within the first six months of this year, others say repossessions have already begun of homes whose owners have failed to make payments. According to a lawyer specializing in bankruptcy cases and the repossession of private property, over the past three to four years the incidence of bankruptcies, payment orders (which culminate in repossessions) and bounced checks have doubled. «Some of these repossessions may be due to the owners’ inability to repay housing loans, but the greater majority of homes being auctioned are in another category – those belonging to owners of small and medium-sized businesses who took out open loans for their business needs. These loans are usually in the vicinity of 10 million drachmas, for which they mortgaged a home. When these loans are not repayed, the banks take possession of the houses,» he said.