An increasing number of high-end property owners having difficulty repaying their mortgages are under foreclosure pressure from banks, says Landscope Surveyors managing director Samson Law. The debt associated with hundreds of properties now was more than their value as a result of the decline in property values. 'It's scary,' Mr Law said. 'A lot of owners will walk away from the property and let the banks sell it.' In many cases, such property owners had incurred severe losses in the stock market or in business because of the slowdown of the economy. The vast majority of distressed property owners had given up hope of selling their properties, he said. 'Even if they could sell it off, they would still have to pay the bank the difference between the loan and the selling price,' he said. 'There are hundreds in the market in this position.' Businessmen commonly used their businesses and homes to finance lines of credit, agents said. But as well as the downturn in the property market, where home values had dropped 40 per cent, businesses had suffered a similar downturn in liquidity. Figures on how many owners are in trouble are difficult to come by, but Mr Law said the number was significant. However, some analysts said banks would be unwilling to foreclose on luxury properties. 'If the current loans turn into a problem, the banks have to turn that into a provision, and that means they [would] have less money to lend out,' a property analyst said. Another said banks were unlikely to foreclose because the whole exercise would turn into a public relations disaster. 'The property [market] is already in the negative, and now we [would] have the bank selling it for even less. We would have a downward spiral effect,' he said. 'In the luxury market, they still have a profit margin, even though it is slim.' Rather than exacerbate the already tight liquidity problem facing the industry, banks were more likely to reduce a property owner's credit exposure, analysts said. Banks were holding a lot of liquid assets but were unwilling to lend because the investment climate looked so dismal.