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Gross mortgage lending sees 7% monthly rise

Date online: 22/09/2016

In addition to the month-on-month rise, lending rose 15% year-on-year, from £19.5bn in August 2015. This is the highest August figure since 2007 when gross lending reached £33.6bn.

CML senior economist, Mohammad Jamei, said: "Widely voiced fears in recent months about the housing market have proved to be wide of the mark. Prospects for house purchase activity post-referendum look slightly subdued, when compared to late 2015 and early 2016. However, sentiment in the market recovered in August. This is reflected in stronger-than-expected transaction figures, and in our gross lending estimate.

This recovery in sentiment is likely to be down to a number of different factors, including the Bank of England’s monetary stimulus and its introduction of the Term Funding Scheme in August. A subsequent uptick in approvals is anticipated, albeit still at levels lower than earlier this year as affordability constraints and lack of properties on the market for sale continue to bear down on borrowers. The Bank also continues to indicate another rate cut on the cards, if medium term prospects remain unchanged."

Richard Pike, Phoebus Software sales and marketing director, says “All the recent signs in the economy, and general public sentiment, have pointed to a more healthy market.  Just yesterday the Building Societies Association property tracker reported that an increased number of people say they are in a better position than they were at the beginning of the year and would be more likely to consider purchasing property.  

It now appears, from the CML’s figures today, that although it is likely that the main source of the increase in August has again come from remortgaging, things are looking up and the spectre of what will, or won’t, happen post referendum has lifted to a degree.  As with most things there comes a time when we have to realise that the world keeps turning.  It may be a cliché but  at some point we do have to decide that it’s business as usual and we will deal with whatever happens, but not until it does actually happen.  Now really is the time to take advantage of the lowest mortgage interest rates on offer.”

Henry Woodcock, principal mortgage consultant at IRESS, said: “The holiday month of August typically has a seasonal downturn in lending compared to July. In 2015 August was 8% lower than July. So it’s surprising to see lending grow in August with gross mortgage lending up 7% on July and 15% from August 2015.

The market bucked the indicators that would have suggested a drop in lending. The National Association of Estate Agents saw a 35% drop in the average number of registered house hunters during July. According to the CML, the number of mortgages advanced for house purchases fell in July by 14 per cent compared with June. And figures from the Bank of England revealed that mortgage approvals fell to an 18-month low in July to 60,912, the lowest value since January 2015.

Will the Autumn bring more good news to the market?

Many commentators believe mortgage approvals are now likely to fall over the coming months as the combination of a waver in consumer confidence and economic uncertainty causes people to reconsider moving or buying a first home. House prices are also experiencing a bit of uncertainty, with the Nationwide index showing prices edging up by 0.6% from July to August, but Countrywide predicting that after a modest annual rise, prices might drop by 1% in 2017.
If there are no unforeseen bumps in the economy, the optimist in me – encouraged by these figures - would expect mortgage approvals and advances to increase further over the coming months – but at lower levels of growth than in 2015 – as lenders seek to hit end of year targets.”

Paul Smith, CEO of haart estate agents, comments: “The CML data released today shows that projected fears about the collapse of the housing market in the wake of a Brexit vote were misguided, as mortgage activity jumped back up in August after hitting a blip in July. Lenders are very clearly still open for business as lending reached £22.5 billion in August, 7% higher than last month, and 15% up on the year, the highest August figure since 2007.

However there are still constraints on the market, namely the lack of stock, which has the potential to reduce the number of transactions and therefore reduce mortgage activity, constraining the level of growth that we were seeing earlier on in the year. Nonetheless, with a wealth of encouraging data coming in over August and September, as business surveys report a bounce in consumer sentiment, and with record low interest rates, any uncertainty that was constraining house hunters and their willingness to engage in transactions this month should be rectified.

We are already starting to see renewed interest from buyers this month, particularly outside of London, and I expect we should see the mortgage market moving in an upwards trajectory now that the traditionally quieter summer period is coming to an end.”


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