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House auctions are plummeting. The North leads the recovery

It’s a signal of exit from the crisis: -31% in six months

Fewer insolvent debtors, hence fewer real estate auctions. The figure is included in the biannual report of the research centre Sogeea and it shows an important signal of exit from the crisis: in fact, the number of the houses sold through real estate auction has decreased by 31% in only six months. Currently, there are 22,969 procedures open, against the over 33 thousand registered in January. The trend is even more relevant since it comes from a whole year of continuous increase. Even if, at least partly, it may be explained by the way financial statements are made by the banks.

“The situation – explains Sandro Simoncini, director of the research centre – is less worrying than six months ago, even if the number of people who live the tragedy of a house put under execution sale is still considerable”. The downturn registered by Sogeea is common to all the price ranges. The auctions up to 100 thousand euro fell by 33%, as well as those for higher values, between 500 thousand and one million: -15%. The same trend (-41%) is valid for luxury properties as well, with a value of over 3 million euro. In conclusion, the phenomenon concerns all the types of debtor. Even though the small ones are those most involved in the auctions: 66% of the houses for sale are priced below 100 thousand euro, value that rises to 88% if we consider also the properties under 200 thousand euro. These are the houses of small savers that couldn’t cope with financial difficulties and having to pay the bill with their first house.

If we look at the map of auctions, it’s mainly the North who leads this turnaround. Here the procedures have gone from 15,749 to 8,817 (-44%). Even though Lombardy is still the region with the highest number of auctions: roughly less than a fifth of the properties is located here. The South too has dropped a lot (-34%), while the contraction is more contained in the central regions (-17%): Lazio is the third region in absolute, with 2,758 properties. The only figure in counter-trend is that of  Sicily and Sardinia, where the auctions have increased compared to six months ago, 4,503 against 4,483.

The interpretation of these figures is, however, very complex.  According to Simoncini, there is definitely the tendency of the banks “to diminish the vehemence towards those who are in a situation of financial struggle”. The reason is not due to the goodwill of the banks, but to purely accounting considerations.  Because of the crisis, the value of the houses has significantly dropped compared to the year of issuance of the mortgage. This means that with the auctions there is the risk to collect only a small part of what is in the books. Even though any consideration regarding the circumstances has to be made carefully. “It’s not risked supposing that the persisting stagnation in the medium –long term could exacerbate the phenomenon again in the near future, condemning us once again to harsher figures”.  In this sense, we may note that a great increase has been registered in some regions: +49% in Valle d’Aosta and +16% in Friuli – Venezia Giulia. A sign that the situation is still not trouble-free.

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