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Gross mortgage lending in the UK reached £16.5 billion in December, unchanged month on month compared to November but down 1% compared to December 2013, the latest data shows. The figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders also shows that the gross lending estimate for the fourth quarter of 2014 is £51.6 billion, down 8% on quarter three but up 1% on the fourth quarter of 2013. Overall, for 2014 the gross lending estimate is £205.6 billion, up 17% on 2013's £176 billion gross lending figure. ‘Housing market activity has been cooling and house price growth slowing in recent months, but 2014 was still the strongest year for mortgage lending since 2008,’ said CML chief economist Bob Pannell. ‘First time buyers were a key driver, helped by government initiatives such as Help to Buy. As a result, the number of first time buyers topped the 300,000 mark. While a far cry from the half million that we might regard as normal, this was the highest number of first time buyers since 2007,’ he pointed out. ‘Although lending remained muted in December, the previous monthly pace of decline in approvals appeared to moderate. So, alongside the big picture of a softer market, we are beginning to detect signs that underlying market conditions may be stabilising,’ he added. Adrian Gill, director of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents, said that while many places across the country have witnessed a recent lull in house price growth, the underlying sentiment in the market remains strong. ‘It will continue to carry the housing recovery further forwards, with unprecedented fundamentals for growth this year and 2014 will stand out as the best year for new buyers since the recession,’ he explained. ‘Towards the latter end of the year, demand was slightly spooked by the introduction of loan to income caps, but stamp duty reform provided some new comfort for prospective buyers. Along with the continued support of the Help to Buy scheme, aspiring home owners can more easily stomach the upfront costs of buying a home and save up for the necessary deposit,’ he added. Continue reading →
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