First-time buyers drive increase in mortgage lending

Mortgage lending rose in August on the back of strong demand from first-time buyers and home movers, according to the latest figures from UK Finance.

Mortgage lending rose in August on the back of strong demand from first-time buyers and home movers, according to the latest figures from UK Finance.

The total number of loans for house purchase and remortgage jumped by 7.6 per cent to 129,500 between July and August, according to seasonally adjusted data from UK Finance.

First-time buyer activity rose by 13.5 per cent month-on-month and 8.9 per cent on an annual basis, while the value of loans to FTBs climbed 16 per cent on July and 12 per cent year-on-year to £5.7bn.

The number of loans taken out by home movers jumped by 17 per cent month-on-month and 12.9 per cent year-on year to 38,500, while the value rose 18.3 per cent on July and 20 per cent year-on-year to £8.4bn.

The number of people remortgaging was down 1 per cent on July but 5 per cent more than a year ago, while the value of lending was £6.4bn – 4 per cent less than in July but 8 per cent more than in August 2016.

Following a wave of tax and regulatory changes, the value of buy-to-let lending totalled £3.1bn – down 3 per cent on July 2017 and the same as in August last year.

The number of buy-to-let loans was flat on a monthly basis but edged up by 4 per cent to 20,400 compared to August 2016.

Although buy-to-let borrowing for house purchase rose by 11 per cent in August, it remained at a lower level than before the introduction of the higher stamp duty rate in the spring of 2016.

June Deasy, head of mortgages policy at UK Finance, said: “Activity picked up in August, and recent resilience ensured that borrowing by home movers was at its highest since March 2016, when transactions were boosted by an imminent increase in stamp duty. 

“Over the last 12 months, the number of people remortgaging has been higher than in any period since late 2009. With mortgage rates close to historic lows and the likelihood of a rise in official rates moving closer, the popularity of remortgaging looks set to continue.”

While the figures continue to suggest the housing market remains resilient, the impact of a wave of recent rate rises by mortgage lenders has yet to filter through to the market.

The most recent data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) showed a decline in both sales and new buyer enquiries as a shift in interest rate expectations led potential buyers to adopt a more cautious approach.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former Rics residential chairman, said: “These figures are quite encouraging although do reflect approvals made a few months ago.

“They also show first-time buyers are taking advantage of landlords’ reluctance to commit due to recent tax and legislation changes. 

“However, the market is unlikely to take a nose dive if these figures are to be trusted and looking forward we are likely to see more of the same – in other words, realistic buyers and sellers negotiating hard to do deals, although everything is taking much longer.”

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