Mortgage Fears for Properties on HS2 Route

 The boss of a leading firm of chartered surveyors has warned that mortgage lenders are very unhappy about the threat to property prices posed by the recently approved high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham. Richard Sexton, the director of e.surv, warned that house prices along the planned HS2 route have already fallen by between 15 and 30 per cent since the project was first proposed in December 2010 and are only going to fall further, adding that all the mortgage lenders he had spoken to believed the plans to be a threat to property values in the affected areas. Although no lender has published any official guidance, there are claims that in conversations with surveyors, many have spoken of their anxieties about the growing risk of negative equity in those properties. “No lender has or would ask a valuer to produce a lower property value than actual. They are however seeking assurances that the valuers they work with are aware of the issue so that any impact on prices is being taken account of when valuers produce their reports,” Mr Sexton said. “Lenders would be concerned if they had significant numbers of properties in mortgage which were affected by the route as it could push them into negative equity situations.” One of the difficulties faced by surveyors was the paucity of information currently available about the potential environmental impact of the high-speed rail link, suggesting that “the fact that the rail link is planned to operate at speeds substantially in excess of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and European high speed rail lines means that the noise and vibration it is likely to cause are unfamiliar.”