UK mortgage lending still down compared to a year ago

Taylor Scott International News

Home lending levels recovered in May compared to April, but were still down compared to a year ago, the latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show. First time buyers saw a decline in lending volumes compared to last year, but up slightly on the previous month while home mover lending saw a similar trend with volumes up slightly on April but down year on year. Home owner remortgage activity also declined compared to the previous month and compared to the same period last year. However, buy to let lending continues to grow year on year, mainly driven by remortgage activity and also saw a slight month on month increase due to higher buy to let house purchase lending activity. ‘House purchase lending in May was slightly up on the previous month, suggesting the market might be waking up after a subdued first quarter,’ said Paul Smee, director general of the CML. ‘Activity has broadly been down on last year but we expect it to rise in the summer months as, with historically low interest rates and a competitive lending environment, borrowing conditions are relatively favourable. But we cannot ignore the continuing affordability constraints caused by high house prices relative to earnings which will work in a contrary direction,’ he added. The CML report also shows that, as previously reported, gross lending in May was £15.9 billion, up from £15.8 billion in April but down from £16.8 billion in May last year. Under normal circumstances, a slight increase in the number of loans to first time buyers in May would be a sign that their prospects are on the rise this summer. But Patrick Bamford, director of mortgage insurance Europe for Genworth, pointed out that average deposits have risen significantly over the last year, not just because of rising house prices, but because the squeeze on affordability is disadvantaging buyers without a sizable amount of cash to put towards a house purchase. ‘For many would be home owners, especially those without the Bank of Mum and Dad to fall back on, saving more than 5% is simply not a realistic aim. Despite more high loan to value (LTV) products being available at lower rates, market pressures are preventing lenders from offering these products to those buyers who traditionally rely on this type of loan,’ he said. ‘In order to drive a genuine recovery of the high LTV market, the government needs to introduce a permanent system of private mortgage insurance to accompany its planning reforms. First time buyers will only be able to access affordable homes if we make affordable mortgages permanently available to them,’ he added. However, the CML figures also shows that competitive mortgage rates mean first time buyers are paying a record low proportion of their monthly income to service the capital and interest rate payments of their mortgage. This is the lowest level since the CML began tracking this in 2005. Continue reading →

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