Banks blame decline in home movers as lending drops in February

Gross mortgage lending dropped between January and February but is on par with the same time last year, lenders say.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) estimates that gross mortgage lending reached £18.2bn in February.

This is 8% lower than January’s lending total of £19.8bn and closely matches the £18.1bn lent in February last year.

Mohammad Jamei, CML senior economist, said: “Mortgage lending is holding up well, but under the surface, buyers face mixed fortunes.

“First-time buyers and customers who are remortgaging are driving total lending, while home movers and buy-to-let remain weak.

“The weakness in home movers means few properties are coming on to the market for sale, which is aggravating a supply / demand imbalance that has characterised the market since late 2013.

“This looks set to continue at least over the next few months, posing an obstacle for would-be borrowers.”

Commenting on the figures, Henry Woodcock, principal mortgage consultant at financial technology provider IRESS, said: “February normally sees a decrease in lending compared to January. That trend has continued with gross lending for February of £18.2bn, a drop of 8% compared to January, and only fractionally higher than February 2016.

“Even though we’ve seen a decrease in lending from January, first-time buyer activity supported by government schemes has still been strong, as has growth in remortgaging.

“Overall, average house prices are expected to grow modestly this year, however we’re likely to see significant regional variance. Growth will most likely be outside the cooling capital market and more in regional centres such as Birmingham and Manchester.”

He predicted there could be more buyers making mortgage applications to lock in low rates if inflation continues to rise and leads to more speculation over an interest rate increase.

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Written by: Houseladder