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House purchase lending surged in Q1, according to UK Finance

House purchase lending surged in Q1, following the rush of applications submitted ahead of the original Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday deadline, according to the Q1 UK Finance Review.

Home mover activity was particularly strong, with anecdotal evidence of many homeowners using their substantial existing equity stakes to move to larger properties away from city centres in response to changing working and living patterns.

Refinancing continued to be dominated by internal product transfers; however, there is a continued trend of significant and growing amounts of equity withdrawn with other remortgages, in large part to fund additional property purchases.

UK Finance noted that payment deferrals and government support for jobs and incomes kept arrears increases in check in Q1 2021, while the ban on court actions meant there were no enforced possessions for the fourth consecutive quarter.

From Q2, as support schemes wind down and possessions resume, UK Finance said it is likely arrears will rise above their current level and, after a lag, possessions are expected to rise as well.

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Credit card borrowing fell due to additional national lockdowns and post-Christmas seasonality, but showed signs of recovery towards the end of the quarter, according to the review.

Eric Leenders, managing director of personal finance at UK Finance, said: “Since the housing market emerged from its shutdown last spring, we have seen a remarkable recovery in demand, which continued through Q1 2021.

“Existing homeowners have taken advantage of the stamp duty concessions, with changing working and living patterns encouraging more to use their existing equity, either to move further afield or to fund further housing purchases for themselves or family.

“Towards the end of the quarter, cautious optimism was also evident through modest increases in card spending and in unsecured borrowing.

“The continuing support network for household incomes and credit payments has prevented significant increases in arrears.

“As the country emerges from lockdown and these schemes come to a close, most will be able to resume normal payments.

“However, for those unable to do this, the industry stands ready to help with tailored support to best suit individual customers’ needs.”

John Eastgate, managing director of property finance at Shawbrook Bank, added: “A strong Q1 was inevitable.

“Minds should and will turn to the period beyond the artificial boom created by the stamp duty holiday.

“Notwithstanding some inflationary pressures, the cost of borrowing looks likely to stay low and with a fast recovering economy, the outlook for the property market remains robust.

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“That underpins buyer confidence which, combined with a likely long-term shift in commuter behaviours, has seen borrowers stretch themselves for that forever home with some green space and a different work-life balance.”

Jon Cooper, head of mortgage distribution, Aldermore, said: “Through successive lockdowns, we’ve seen an unprecedented reassessment by home owners of what they want from a home.

“The change in working and living situations over the past year and likely for the long-term has ignited demand to find property that fits people’s new working and family life, which has led to this house purchase lending surge in Q1.

“Mortgage lenders have thrived the past year through tremendous efforts to meet the adversity of the moment.

“We’ve seen some genuine long-term industry innovation through necessity of social distancing and maintained a steady stream of new business despite unstable conditions, alongside significant existing customer care and engagement.

“This collective work has put the market in a good place for recovery in the months going forward and, with pent-up demand, the stamp duty relief, and the reintroduction of products, we might even say we’re quietly optimistic for a busy second half to 2021.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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House Purchase Lending In Q4 At 13-year High

House purchase lending in Q4 2020 reached its highest quarterly level since 2007, UK Finance’s household finance review has found.

With buy-to-let Q4 2020 saw the highest purchase activity since Q1 2016.

In December lending levels were 31% higher than the same month a year earlier.

Eric Leenders, managing director, personal finance at UK Finance, said: “Homebuyers looking to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday were behind the housing market’s strongest quarter for purchases in 13 years, in the final quarter of 2020.

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“The stamp duty holiday helped to boost activity at the end of 2020, and it is likely many of these purchases have been brought forward in order to take advantage of the savings.

“The Chancellor’s announcement in the Budget to extend the Stamp Duty holiday until the end of June before then phasing it out will prevent a cliff edge, reducing the risk of house sales collapsing and will prove beneficial for all parties involved in the housing market.”

Despite the strong end of the year, annual purchases for the whole year were around a tenth lower than the previous year, due to a complete shutdown of the market in the first lockdown.

Richard Pike, Phoebus Software sales and marketing director, said: “The housing market, like many things, is more than the sum of its parts and, with the overall picture painted by these figures from UK Finance, it is evident that the number of mortgage approvals is only part of the story.

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“The stamp duty holiday obviously did as it was intended, stimulating the market in difficult circumstances. It has also created increased demand in a market where there isn’t enough property to meet that demand, which in turn is pushing prices up across the country.

“With many transactions in the pipeline the extension to the SDLT holiday, announced in the Budget yesterday, will go some way to ensuring that more of these complete before the new deadline.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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