Mortgage figures give cause for modest optimism

Home buyers borrowed £11.2 billion in March – down on the ‘stamp duty bonanza‘ period at the same time last year but substantially up on figures for earlier in 2017.

The figures were enough for one market commentator – Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman – to describe them as “surprisingly good” and providing evidence that realistic buyers and sellers are “getting on with their business.”

The borrowing data, released the Council of Mortgage Lenders, is historic in that it refers to March, but nonetheless are more optimistic than some other snapshots of the market.

They show that first-time buyers borrowed £4.9 billion, up 29 per cent on February; they took out 31,500 loans, up 30 per cent month-on-month and 12 per cent year-on-year.

Home movers borrowed £6.2 billion, up 19 per cent on February but down 33 per cent year-on-year. This equated to 30,200 loans, up 24 per cent month-on-month but down 28 per cent compared to March 2016.

Compared to March 2016, a month which had a surge of activity ahead of the stamp duty surcharge, as expected the number of loans decreased 58 per cent and the amount borrowed decreased by 60 per cent.

Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, says: “First time buyer numbers continue to grow as the Bank of Mum and Dad step up to the plate, while lenders also offer competitive pricing at higher loan-to-values. Remortgaging remains popular as borrowers take advantage of cheap mortgage deals and lenders’ willingness to attract new business. This trend is expected to continue well into the summer.”

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