A year ago, repossessed houses accounted for about 40% of lots for sale at Allsop's auction. In the forthcoming auction, that figure will be no less than 60%.

In auction rooms across the country the same trend is being seen, due in part to a growing number of properties being seized by Northern Rock.

Figures released by the nationalised mortgage bank last week revealed that the number of homes it had repossessed jumped 67% in the first six months of the year. The number of Northern Rock customers more than three months behind with their mortgage payments more than doubled over the same period. The provision for customers falling into arrears was £191m, a near fourfold increase on the £57m a year earlier. The bank has repossessed 3,710 homes.

Sunday Times, The Observer