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First-time buyer mortgage approvals hit 14-month high

The number of mortgages approved for first-time buyers has hit a record high, but it’s not such good news for home movers.

Data from banking trade body UK Finance shows there were 35,500 new first-time buyer mortgages completed during August, 2% more annually and the highest level since June 2017.

In contrast, the number of mortgage approvals for home movers fell 2.3% year-on-year to 38,000 in August, while buy-to-let lending continue to suffer, down 13% annually to 6,000.

The number of remortgages was also down annually by 0.3% to 37,100.

Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said: “Overall house purchase completions remain stable, driven largely by the number of first-time buyers which reached its highest monthly level since June 2017.

“Buy-to-let remortgaging saw relatively strong growth in August, due in part to the number of two-year fixed deals coming to an end. This suggests that while new purchases in the buy-to-let market continue to be impacted by recent tax and regulatory changes, many existing landlords remain committed to the market.

“However, the home-owner remortgaging market has softened slightly, reflecting the many borrowers who had already locked into attractive deals in the months preceding the Bank of England’s base rate rise.”

Commenting on the data, Shaun Church, director at mortgage broker Private Finance, said: “First-time buyers are feeling empowered by the current housing market.

“Easing house price growth, Stamp Duty exemptions, relaxation of lending criteria and near record low mortgage rates are all giving new buyers a much-needed boost on to the property ladder.

“Those in a position to do so have heeded advice to take advantage of favourable market conditions, with mortgage lending to first-time buyers in August reaching levels not seen in more than a year.

“But existing home owners could well feel paralysed. As political and economic uncertainty takes hold, many home-owners are choosing to bide their time and see what 2019 brings.

“This uncertainty – and a lack of incentives for homeowners to move – means the home mover market continues to remain flat. This gives all buyers less choice when it comes to finding a new home.”

Source: Property Industry Eye