Families trapped in homes they want to sell – by the banks: Interest free mortgages from the 1990s have left them owing hundreds of thousands

Families trapped in homes they want to sell – by the banks: Interest free mortgages from the 1990s have left them owing hundreds of thousands

Every weekend, Anita Wakeman makes a 90-mile round trip from her home in the Essex countryside to visit her elderly parents in Kent.

Des, 81, and Trudie Wakeman, 70, have suffered from poor health since the sudden death of their 40-year-old son in 2014.

Both have had strokes and Trudie also has a suspected serious heart condition.

Anita wishes her parents would sell up and buy a smaller place near Burnham-on-Crouch so she and her daughter Honey, 15, can help take care of them.

Raw deals: Shared appreciation mortgages have left meant homeowners have been forced to stay in the homes they would otherwise sell

But they can’t.

The elderly couple, who live in the small town of Welling, are locked into a contract with Barclays that means when they sell their home, they have to hand over three‑ quarters of any growth in its price since the late Nineties.

With their home now worth £300,000, that would mean writing the bank a cheque for £192,000.

That would leave just over £100,000 — not nearly enough to buy a home near their daughter, where two- bedroom semis cost £250,000.

Des and Trudie are two of the 12,000 Bank of Scotland and Barclays customers who took out shared appreciation mortgages between 1996 and 1998.

These loans were hugely popular among older borrowers wanting to fund their retirements.

The bank would lend you up to 25 per cent of the value of your home — usually interest-free — and you didn’t need to make any monthly repayments.

Instead, you agreed to give the bank up to three-quarters of any increase in the value of your home when you eventually sold it.

In other words, customers were making a huge bet with the bank: if house prices were flat or fell, the customer’s loan looked cheap; but if prices soared, they’d owe the bank a huge sum.

House prices were falling through much of the early Nineties and only started picking up in 1996.

But over the past two decades, house prices have rocketed. The average house in Britain has gone up in value by more than 272 per cent, from around £55,000 to more than £205,000 today, according to figures from Nationwide Building Society.

So, homeowners with shared appreciation mortgages will have to hand their bank hundreds of thousands of pounds if they sell up.

In December, Money Mail revealed how 88-year-old Joan Goodchild had to repay Barclays £302,500 after selling her bungalow — more than eight times the £36,250 she’d borrowed from the bank in 1998.

It left the widow, who had Parkinson’s disease and dementia, without vital money for care bills.

Since then, we’ve been flooded with emails and letters from homeowners in the same position.

Joan Harwood, pictured with her late husband Norman, took out a shared appreciation mortgage after their engineering equipment and printing firm went out of business

Some are struggling to get by in homes that are too big for them; others have been forced to move to a cheaper care home because they have run out of money.

Many feel as though they have cheated children and grandchildren out of their inheritance.

And the worst part is that there is very little the families affected can do about it.

Bank of Scotland and Barclays don’t own the loans — they were sold on to investors.

Both have set up so-called hardship funds to help their struggling customers. These give out cash to help people move or adapt their home — for instance, by putting in stairlifts.

But these payouts rarely go above a few thousand pounds.

Des and Trudie’s shared appreciation mortgage contract has been in place since 1998 when the couple borrowed £36,000 from Barclays to repair their windows and roof.

With hindsight, they say they would never have taken out the loan if they’d realised the debt they’d owe if property prices increased.

Anita, 50, a recruitment consultant, says: ‘My parents need to move and downsize. Dad has fallen down the stairs a few times. I’d love for them to live near me.’

Joan Harwood took out a shared appreciation mortgage with her husband Norman in 1997 after their engineering equipment and printing firm went out of business.

With no monthly repayments to make, the Bank of Scotland’s loan helped get them back on their feet.

The Harwoods borrowed around £18,000 against their £77,500 house in Bognor Regis, West Sussex.

Norman died in 2003 and by 2014 Joan, who is registered deaf and blind, had to sell the house to move into a nursing home.

Joan, now 93, got £180,000 — but had to hand Bank of Scotland £91,000. This left her with just under £90,000 to pay for her care in an £825-a-week care home.

By last summer, Joan’s care bills had eaten through all of the money. Reliant on the council to help fund her care, she had no choice but to move to a cheaper home.

Retired chef John Rigby worries his mum will face the same fate.

Mortgage trap: Sheila Rigby with her late husband Stan. Sheila suffered a stroke in 1993 which left her unable to talk or move the right side of her body

When his father died in 2015, it was left to him to sort out the paperwork.

His mother Sheila, 83, had been unable to talk or move the right side of her body since she suffered a severe stroke in 1993.

Among a pile of papers was an 18-year-old agreement for a £15,500 loan from Bank of Scotland.

He called them and was told the loan was a shared appreciation mortgage and that when his mum eventually sells the house, the bank will pocket 52 per cent of the proceeds.

Fears: Retired chef John Rigby with his mother Sheila, 83

Sheila’s one‑bedroom bungalow has increased in value by around £90,000 to £150,000 since 1998. So, if she sells now she’ll owe the bank £78,000, leaving just £72,000.

The family fears the cash won’t be enough for specialist care should Sheila go into a nursing home.

John, who gave up his job as a chef when his dad died to look after his mum full-time, says: ‘Dad always said to me: ‘Look, there will be no money left when we’re gone, but we’ll leave you the house.’ But now there will be hardly anything left.’

David Daniels, 83, and his wife Lillian, 81, want to move out of their home because they are struggling to manage the garden.

Their three-bedroom detached home in Ponteland, near Newcastle, has a quarter of an acre of lawns and flower beds. Now they’re older, the couple are finding it more difficult to weed, prune and keep the grass cut.

David says moving to a smaller house in the area would take a huge weight off their minds.

But the couple can’t downsize due to a £33,000 shared appreciation mortgage they took out in 1998.

It seemed like a good deal at the time because it gave them extra cash to live on in retirement.

When they signed up, the couple’s three-bedroom house was worth around £125,000. Today, its value is nearer £460,000.

Tough choice: David Daniels, 83, and wife Lillian, 81, from Ponteland, near Newcastle, want to move out of their home because they are struggling to manage the garden

So if the couple move, they will have to pay Bank of Scotland £277,000, leaving £183,000.

David, a retired engineer, says: ‘We wouldn’t even have enough left to buy a small semi-detached after paying so much to the bank.

‘It seems extraordinarily unfair. We are finding it increasingly difficult to manage the land, but we’re are now in a situation where we are stuck in this house until we pass away.’

Barclays and Bank of Scotland are urging homeowners facing financial difficulty to contact them to see if they are eligible for help through their hardship funds.

You can call Barclays on 0800 023 2981 and Bank of Scotland on 08000 964 518.


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