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Approvals for mortgages in the UK increased in July to their highest level since February 2014, according to the latest figures published by the Bank of England. The data shows that there were 68,764 mortgages approved in July, up 16.4% from last November’s 17 month low of 59,100. Experts said that it shows that the housing market is heating up again and point out that mortgage approvals have risen in five of the past seven months at a time when house prices are also rising. Net mortgage lending, which lags approvals, also increased, up by £2.709 billion in July, the biggest increase since July 2008. Charles Haresnape, chairman of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), pointed out that it is also the highest number of approvals since the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) last year which cooled the market. ‘With 7% more approvals compared with the six month average, it is a clear indication that health is returning to a market that has been under significantly pressure to perform while adjusting to new working practices,’ he explained. However, he also pointed out that the European Mortgage Credit Directive (MCD) rules begin to come into effect this month and there is likely to be an extra element of uncertainty and instability ahead for the market. ‘With more regulation on the way and a potential rise in the cost of borrowing on the cards, the six month window to implement the MCD rules will be a challenge for all concerned,’ he warned. ‘On the positive side, rising approvals suggest consumer appetite is strong and lenders will also be striving to meet their end of year targets, which should support some competitive deals. We must hope that the impacts of change do not weigh down too heavily on what otherwise looks like a strengthening market recovery,’ he added. Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, said it was possible July’s performance was lifted by some house buyers looking to lock in a low mortgage interest rate before they start rising. ‘While we currently expect the Bank of England to first hike interest rates in February 2016, there is now a very real prospect that they could act before the end of 2015. However, the Bank of England is stressing that interest rates will only rise gradually and to a limited extent,’ he explained. Continue reading →
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