The British Banking Association’s latest mortgage lending figures suggest early signs of fall-out from the surprise vote for the UK to leave the EU
The data shows gross mortgage borrowing of £12.6 billion in July, the month after the vote: this was some six per cent higher than in July 2015.
Specifically, house purchase approvals for the month were a hefty 19 per cent below the level of July 2015 – although in the first seven months of 2016 approvals are actually up two per cent on the same period last year.
Remortgaging approvals last month were six per cent higher than in July 2015 and in the first seven months of this year are a substantial 21 per cent higher than in the equivalent period of 2015.
“We believe housing market activity is likely to be limited over the coming months and prices will weaken as heightened uncertainty following the UK’s vote to leave the EU weighs down on consumer confidence and willingness to engage in major transactions, and also hampers economic activity” says a BBA statement accompanying the figures.
“The fundamentals for house buyers look likely to soften over the coming months with unemployment rising and purchasing power softening. Unemployment will probably move higher as business react to a more uncertain and worrying outlook. Additionally, consumers’ purchasing power will likely be increasingly squeezed as inflation is lifted by a weakened pound and companies look to clamp down on pay as they strive to save costs in a more difficult environment” it warns.
However, the figures could have been worse according to some experts.
“The first set of lending figures post referendum show little signs of panic although those decisions to borrow would have been made before the outcome was known” says Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients.
“July and August are always quieter times of year for the market; the real test will come in September. Remortgaging is likely to go from strength to strength. This is not so much because borrowers fear a rate rise: rather mortgage deals are so cheap, in particular fixed rates, that it seems crazy not to snap one up. What remains to be seen is how long lenders retain their appetite to lend at such low rates” he says.
Meanwhile separate figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, applying to London only, show a more stark picture.
Buyers in London borrowed £5.5 billion, down 23 per cent quarter-on-quarter and three per cent on this time last year. They took out 17,500 loans, down 17 per cent on the previous quarter and down eight per cent on Q2 2015.