Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

One owner losing their home every week

Mortgagee sales have spiked in the first six months of this year, as banks foreclose on struggling Rotorua property owners' homes and investment properties.

Figures released by information company Terralink show 24 forced sales occurred in Rotorua during the first half of the year, almost double the number for the same period last year (13).

The figures equate to nearly one mortgagee sale a week.

McDowell Real Estate sales manager Phil Hereford said a wide range of properties were reaching foreclosure stage.

"The majority are in your urban area in Rotorua ... but there are some in the mid and even upper range [of prices].

"We seem to be getting about four or five a month across the board," he said.

"They are still definitely coming in ... but have evened out since the last few years."

Quarterly figures show 11 mortgagee sales occurred between April and June this year, down slightly on the 13 foreclosures reported in the previous three-month period.

The Terralink figures are derived from foreclosure registration data supplied by financial institutions. However, commentators warned yesterday they may include sales from prior periods.

Nationally, forced property sales are taking place at rates similar to those last seen during the peak of the recession in 2009.

In the first half of this year, 1129 mortgagee sales occurred, up from 1007 during the same period last year.

This compared with 1262 foreclosures during the first six months of 2009.

New Zealanders are battling rising food costs, record-high petrol prices and stubbornly high unemployment.

Terralink managing director Mike Donald said that with no signs the economy would pick up anytime soon, the number of foreclosures was only expected to rise.

"For most of 2011, it looked like the era of record high numbers of forced sales was finally on its way out.

"Unfortunately, since October 2011, we've experienced the opposite," he said.

However, provincial New Zealand seemed to be immune from the spiralling number of foreclosures by banks.

Apart from the greater Bay of Plenty and Northland areas, where mortgagee sales jumped 35 per cent between the first and second quarters of this year, most provincial areas had remained relatively stable, Mr Donald said.

This contrasted with a spike in city areas - the Wellington region foreclosure rates jumped 56 per cent between quarters, he said.

A breakdown of the figures show "mum-and-dad" property owners make up at least one-in-five mortgagee sales.

This was a worrying trend, Mr Donald said. "With properties that are likely to be family homes making up almost a quarter of sales, there's no sign of economic recovery for ordinary New Zealanders."

The quarterly results also show corporate investors who owned more than 11 properties had suffered the most this year. Forced sales for this group jumped from 16 per cent in the first quarter to 25 per cent in the second.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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