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Mortgage approvals reach 13-year high

Mortgage approvals for house purchase increased to 84,700, the highest since October 2007, according to the latest Money and Credit statistics from the Bank of England.

Net mortgage borrowing was £3.1bn in August which stayed consistent with the total recorded in July (£2.9bn), whilst effective mortgage interest rates were broadly unchanged.

The Bank of England suggests that these latest figures signal signs of recovery in August, despite mortgage borrowing being troughed at £0.5bn in April and still being slightly below the average of £4.2bn in the six months to February 2020.

The increase on the month reflected slightly higher gross borrowing of £18.8bn, although it is still below the pre-COVID level in February of £23.7bn.

In total, there has been 418,000 approvals in 2020, compared with 524,000 in the same period in 2019.

Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, said:

“The impressive pick up in mortgage approvals is what you would expect – if we go all the way back to Brexit, there has long been pent-up demand and people waiting to move, COVID then hit and people were still waiting.
“Now, there are so many ‘for sale’, as well as ‘sold’ signs, illustrating that there is confidence and a willingness to invest in property.
“Consumer credit has bounced back and stabilised, which is encouraging as it shows people are not over-stretching themselves by increasing debt and getting into financial difficulty. People are maintaining a grasp of reality.”

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Approvals for remortgage are little changed compared to July at 33,400, which is a 36% decrease from figures recorded back in February.

New mortgage rates were 1.72%, a decrease of one basis point on the month, whilst the interest rate on the stock of mortgage loans fell one basis point to 2.14% in August.

Dave Harris, chief executive at more2life, reacted to the data: “Although today’s findings show overall lending in the mortgage market still falls short of pre-crisis levels, there are positive signs of growth.

“Month-on-month increases to new mortgage approvals suggest that buyers have been taking advantage of the products on offer to help manage borrowing during the coronavirus crisis – and lenders and advisers have played a crucial part in this.

“At the same time, the equity release market has also been working hard to support older borrowers, with product innovation high on the agenda.

“The Equity Release Council recently found that product options in this market have increased by 29% year-on-year, further helping to ensure older borrowers benefit from greater choice and flexibility at a time when they arguably need it most.

“Seeking professional, specialist advice is crucial for older homeowners ensure they are aware of solutions like equity release which could help them develop a long-term financial plan.”

David Whittaker, chief executive at Keystone Property Finance,  added: “There were no signs of the traditional summer slump this August, with the mortgage market experiencing a ‘mini boom’ and showing positive signs of recovery following an extremely challenging period.

“Within the buy-to-let market, falling rates, pent-up demand and the Stamp Duty holiday have no doubt acted as an incentive for landlords and investors to take this opportunity to diversify their property portfolios.

“However, whilst today’s figures give us reason to be cautiously optimistic about the market, a raft of regulatory changes coming into force this year means buy-to-let investors must continue to seek the advice of brokers who can help them navigate this complex landscape.

“As we start to emerge from the crisis and the UK returns to some form of normality, we’re committed to working closely with our broker partners to ensure the market can meet the unique needs of each buy-to-let landlord.”

By Jessica Nangle

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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BoE: July mortgage borrowing up £0.3bn month-on-month

In July, households borrowed a net additional £2.7bn secured on their homes, according to the BoE Money and Credit report.

This was up on the £2.4bn in June, but below the average of £4.2bn in the six months to February 2020.

The increase reflected a slight increase in gross borrowing to £17.4bn in July, below the pre-COVID February level of £23.7bn and consistent with the recent weakness in mortgage approvals.

The number of mortgage approvals for house purchase continued recovering in July, reaching 66,300, up from 39,900 in June.

Approvals were 10% below the February level of 73,700, but more than seven times higher than the trough of 9,300 in May.

Approvals for remortgage were little changed compared to June, at 36,000; they remained 30% lower than in February.

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The effective rates on new and outstanding mortgages were little changed in July.

New mortgage rates were 1.73%, a decrease of 4 basis points on the month, while the interest rate on the stock of mortgage loans fell 1 basis point to 2.15% in July.

Hugh Wade-Jones, managing director of Enness Global Mortgages, said: “The latest rate of mortgage approvals is really quite astonishing given the dire position of the market just a few short months ago.

“There is no doubt that the huge surge of buyer demand seen once the market reopened has been seriously turbo-charged due to the stamp duty holiday announced shortly after, with the combination of both causing buyers to return to the market at mass.

“As a result, we’ve seen the number of people approved for a mortgage rebound from the depths of pandemic paralysis in May to hit almost the same levels as this time last year in just two months, with the current trajectory sure to return the market to pre-lockdown levels in no time.

“The rate of this return to form really shouldn’t be underestimated and these notably heightened levels of buyer demand should prove just the medicine for the UK property market, reversing any pandemic decline in house price growth seen during lockdown.”

Gareth Lewis, commercial director of MT Finance, said: “There are positive signs indicating plenty of consumer confidence out there as people are borrowing money.

“There are more ‘for sale’ and ‘sold’ signs springing up, and even tales of gazumping.

“August’s numbers will show even more of an uptick in transactions once the stamp duty holiday starts to filter through to the figures.

“While July’s numbers show an improvement on June, they would have been better still if transactions weren’t taking so long.

“Lenders still have staff furloughed or working from home, and it is taking them too long to process applications.

“This isn’t going to change for a while yet as they don’t have the capacity to bring everyone back to the office.

“With many surveyors only just coming back off furlough as well, this is having a negative impact on turnaround times.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “Mortgage approval numbers always provide a useful lead indicator of direction of travel for the property market in the coming months.

“Unfortunately, these figures relate to the period when we were emerging from lockdown but before the full benefit of the stamp duty holiday was being felt.

“Contact with mortgage brokers or lenders is not always the first thought of aspiring buyers.

“As a result, these approvals do not reflect the stronger upsurge we noticed across most property types and price ranges from the beginning of August.”

By Jessica Bird

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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BoE: New mortgage commitments up 6.1% in Q1

The first quarter of 2020 saw a 6.1% year-on-year increase in the value of new mortgage commitments (lending agreed to be advanced in the coming months) to £67.6bn, according to the latest figures from the Bank of England.

The BoE’s data also revealed that the outstanding value of all residential mortgages loans was £1,509bn at the end of 2020 Q1, 3.9% higher than a year earlier.

Overall the value of gross mortgage advances in 2020 Q1 was £65.8bn, 3.8% higher than in 2019 Q1.

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Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “Overall, and as expected, the lending market enjoyed a great first quarter with plenty of confidence, more lending done and higher loan-to-values offered by the banks, along with cheaper mortgage rates compared with the same period a year ago.

“This was set to be the trend for the year ahead after years of uncertainty created by Brexit.

“Then the pandemic hit and the picture in the second quarter will be very different. But what it ultimately shows is that the fundamentals are there.

“Lenders are keen to lend and now, as we wait for lockdown to end, we need some stimulus from the government to give the housing market the boost it needs.”

By Ryan Fowler

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Mortgage approvals surge to four-year high: BoE

Mortgage purchase approvals rose by 4.4% between December and January to 70,900 – the highest figure seen since February 2016, according to the latest Money and Credit statistics from the Bank of England.

Approvals for remortgage also rose on the month, by 3.9%, to 52,100.

Net mortgage borrowing – which lags approvals – by households was £4.0 billion in January, slightly below the £4.3 billion average seen over the past six months.

Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, said: “The highest rate of mortgage approvals in almost three years and particularly so early in the year is yet further proof, if it were ever needed, that buyers are returning in their droves following December’s election result.

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It is this huge influx of demand that has seen prices increase at such notable rates of late and as a result, the market is now in the best shape it’s been since the EU Referendum itself.

Not only are seeing performance exceed expectations but there is a very real chance of an interest rate cut on the horizon, which will further boost buyer sentiment, borrowing, and overall market performance.”

Vikki Jefferies, proposition director at Primis, commented: “With the support of a professional, borrowers will be better-informed on how to manage their finances in the long-run and are less likely to fall into a mortgage deal that could leave them financially worse off.

“Advisers are also a big help for clients whose circumstances change during their term, having the resources to be able to offer customers a better deal that aligns with their new financial situation.”

By ROZI JONES

Source: Financial Reporter