More than one in five homes on the market are there because their owners cannot afford the mortgage repayments, The Times has learnt.

A survey of estate agents suggests that at least 5,000 properties a week are being put up for sale by 'forced downsizers' – people who are in financial difficulties.

Lenders believe that repossessions have soared by 70% in 2008 compared with last year. Quarterly figures to be published today by the Council of Mortgage Lenders will show that repossessions are expected to have risen from 18,900 in June to at least 45,000 by the end of December. Figures to be published by the Ministry of Justice are expected to point to soaring mortgage arrears.

The Times