Lending for homes in UK up 43% compared to a year ago, latest figures show

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Gross mortgage lending in the UK was £15.2 billion in February, down some 6% compared with January but still 43% higher than the £10.6 billion lent in February last year, the latest data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders shows. The CML also pointed out that it is the highest total for a February since 2008. CML chief economist Bob Pannell said that housing market indicators have continued to be strong over recent months, once seasonal factors have been taken into account. ‘First time buyers have benefitted most from the government’s Help to Buy initiatives, with the more recent mortgage guarantee scheme now starting to push typical loan to value levels higher,’ he explained. ‘The housing market got a further boost from this week’s Budget. This, together with benign developments in the economy more widely, should bolster short term sentiment and activity,’ he added. Experts believe that more new homes are needed to help the property market continue its recovery as lack of supply is holding it back. Duncan Kreeger, director of West One Loans, a privately funded short term lender, comments, believes that the market can only go so far without a sustainable supply of new homes. ‘While mortgages might be catching up with pre-recession levels, house building in the UK still falls considerably below these peaks,’ he said but added that building may have got a boost in yesterday’s Budget. ‘However, there are still many questions left unanswered. Some 200,000 new homes looks good on paper but we still don’t know where these will be placed. It’s all very well to build a garden city in Ebbsfleet, but if demand is greatest in urban areas, it’s unclear how this will help,’ he explained. ‘The hard truth is that to really increase the supply of homes where they are most needed requires complex property conversions and refurbishments and it’s still almost impossible to get mainstream funding for these types of projects,’ he added. According to Ian McGrail, managing director, FirstMortgage, the data supports the level of growth that his firm as seen at a company level year on year, as demand for mortgages from first time buyers and home movers remains consistently strong. ‘The results, showing the highest total for a February since 2008, pair well with our in house monthly figures, where similarly we have seen record levels of production. This growth looks set to continue steadily into the year, although we would expect activity to slow down temporarily at the end of April when the Mortgage Market Review comes into effect, as lenders get to grips with the reality of the reforms imposed,’ he added. However, Peter Williams, executive director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), warned that growth could slow this year partly because regulatory changes on 26 April will act as a temporary buffer and also because the bar was significantly raised in the second half of last year. 'But the recovery is well underway and should continue to… Continue reading →

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