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Gross mortgage lending in the UK reached £14.3 billion in January, a 14% decrease from December, according to the latest estimate from the Council of Mortgage Lenders. It is well below December 2014’s gross lending total of £16.6 billion and is also 11% lower than the £16.1 billion lent in January 2014. According to CML chief economist Bob Pannell, the softer pace of approvals through the second half of last year contributed to the relatively weak pace of mortgage lending in January. ‘Although seasonal factors will continue to weigh on activity levels for a while longer, we expect the underlying picture to pick up over the coming months, in line with stronger earnings and employment, gentle interest rate trends and recent stamp duty changes,’ he explained. ‘As we forecast at the end of last year, gross mortgage lending remains on course to reach an expected £222 billion this year,’ he added. According to Adrian Gill, director of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents, regulatory change has actually improved the borrowing process, making it more efficient, and leading to better outcomes for buyers. ‘Mortgage approvals may take longer to navigate, but this is because brokers are doing a more thorough job, and front end demand is vibrant and warming up,’ he said. He also pointed out that January activity is not a fair foreteller of what’s to come. ‘The stride of lending may have slowed, but the underlying appetite is growing. House price growth has tapered off at the higher end market, but in places where properties are more affordable and within reach of a leg up from Help to Buy, demand is energetic,’ he explained. ‘The market is only just starting to feel the effects of stamp duty changes, which is taking the edge of buying, and confidence is also buoyed by low interest rates and attractive mortgage products. All the footings are in place for savvy buyers to make great deals on homes, building further on the housing recovery,’ he added. Continue reading →
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