UK lenders approved 97,532 mortgages in October, the most since September 2007, the Bank of England’s Money and Credit data shows.
The housing market has gotten busier, as there were 92,091 given the green light in September, compared to 85,704 in August.
Before the pandemic the were 73,384 mortgages approved in February, before the amount fell as low at 9,335 in May.
Nitesh Patel, strategic economist for Yorkshire Building Society, said: “The housing market continues to defy economic logic, despite challenging economic conditions caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic and uncertainty over the UK’s trading deal with the EU.
“Pent-up demand from the lockdown has been driven by buyers looking for bigger homes that accommodate home working and more garden space, as well as the Stamp Duty cut may have drawn in opportunistic buyers who were previously discouraged by high transaction costs.
“There is good reason to believe that homeowners with large amounts of equity in their homes are the most active, with first-time buyers making up a smaller proportion of approvals.
“These are temporary factors, particularly the Stamp Duty cut which, as it currently stands, ends on 31 March next year. With the economy set to remain weak and unemployment likely to rise when the job support scheme comes to an end, we should see housing activity start to decline in the second quarter of 2021.”
But Richard Pike, sales and marketing director at Phoebus Software, said: “It is not only the stamp duty saving that is driving the market, there is also the number of people looking to escape city life since the lockdown. And, as the ‘working from home’ culture continues this is likely to endure past the limitations imposed by Covid-19.
“The problem then will be the age-old one of supply and demand. Despite the government’s promises, we are, according to the ONS last week, way behind our target for new housebuilding in the last year. With the knock-on effect of the pandemic, this is something that isn’t going to be fixed quickly. So, the mass exodus from our cities that has been predicted, could turn into a trickle come the spring.”
Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “This is an opportunity for many would-be buyers who in the past couldn’t afford or preferred not to buy, to go and purchase, locking themselves into a longer-term mortgage rate at an affordable level, and with a low enough deposit so that it doesn’t impact their savings too much. This, coupled with the stamp duty break, has fuelled the market and helped push up property prices.
“Unlike 2007, we should be confident in the banking sector, which is highly liquid, as well as confident in the market. We may be living with a pandemic but hopefully this will be under control before long, allowing us to carry on with our lives before too much damage is done to the economy.”