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Mortgage approvals jump to four-year high in December

Mortgage approvals surged in December to a four-year high, data published on Monday showed.

According to UK Finance, the banking lobby group, house purchase mortgage approvals by the main high street lenders rose to 46,815 in December from 44,058 in November, the highest number since August 2015. Analysts had been expecting the figures to remain largely flat, at around 44,000.

Gross mortgage lending across the residential market was £22.2bn in December, bringing the total for 2019 to £265.8bn, 1.1% lower than 2018’s figure. A total of 982,286 mortgages were approved, a 7.4% increase on the previous year.

Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said mortgage approvals would have been “significantly lifted by increased confidence and reduced uncertainties” following December’s general election.

He continued: “Prior to November, mortgage approvals for house purchases had fallen back for three successive months to be at a seven-month in October, indicating that activity was being pressurised by heightened uncertainties over the domestic political situation and Brexit.

“Housing market activity, and possibly to a lesser extent prices, could be given a modest lift in 2020 if the government introduces specific measures aimed at boosting the sector in the Budget. Furthermore, mortgage interest rates are at historically low levels; indeed there is clearly a real possibility that the Bank of England could cut interest rates in 2020.

“However, the economy still looks set for a pretty challenging 2020, so the upside for house prices is likely to be limited. Furthermore, Brexit concerns could very well pick up again as 2020 progresses, due to concerns over what will happen at the at the end of the year if the UK and European Union have failed to reach agreement on their long-term relationship.”

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “The jump in mortgage approvals in December likely solely reflects the stimulus provided by the sharp fall in mortgage rates in the second half of last year; the additional boost to approvals from the result of the general election is still to come. All the evidence so far points to a further rise in demand after the election. The new buyer enquiries balance of the RICS Residential Market Survey leaped in December to its highest level since January 2019.”

UK Finance also said that credit card spending rose 7.3% year-on-year to £11.8bn in December, with repayments continuing to offset spending, meaning the overall level of borrowing through cards grew at a slower rate of 2.4% annually.

Personal borrowing through loans was 14% higher year-on-year, while overdraft borrowing eased 0.8%.

Previously the British Bankers Association, UK Finance represents more than 250 firms.

By Abigail Townsend

Source: ShareCast

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UK Finance: Mortgage approvals on the rise

Mortgage approvals rose while gross mortgage lending dropped in November, the UK Finance Household Finance Update has revealed.

Mortgage approvals for home purchases by the main high street banks in November were 6.8% higher whilst remortgage approvals were 12.7% higher.

Gross mortgage lending across the residential market in November was £23.1bn, 3.3% lower than in the same month in 2018.

David Hollingworth, associate director of communications at L&C Mortgages, said: “I suppose it’s positive the approvals were quite a bit higher.

“I just think we had some volatility last year and it’s encouraging to see approvals by the banks up quite a bit, with remortgaging even more so which is what you’d expect with the focus on remortgages with political uncertainty.

“This is a more positive story coming into the New Year.”

By Michael Lloyd

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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UK Finance: Gross mortgage lending increases in July

Gross mortgage lending across the residential market and mortgage approvals both rose in July, UK Finance’s Household Finance Update has found.

Gross mortgage lending across the residential market in July 2019 was £26.1bn, 2.9% higher than the same month in 2018 and the highest since March 2016.

Mortgage approvals for home purchase were 16.4% higher, remortgage approvals were 19.4% higher and approvals for other secured borrowing were 12.7% higher than the same month a year earlier.

Andrew Montlake, managing director of mortgage broker, Coreco, said: “July was our biggest month of the year by a distance and on this evidence we weren’t alone.

“Remortgages were the driving force of the rampant activity levels in July, with households taking advantage of the exceptionally competitive mortgage rates available.

“Lenders are awash with cash and borrowers are making hay while the sun shines.

“First time buyer numbers are also surging, especially among those funded by the Bank of Mum and Dad.

“July was the month when the odds of a no-deal Brexit got a lot shorter and this clearly incentivised people to act.

“Borrowers have become increasingly worried that lenders could easily pull down the shutters in the event of a disorderly Brexit and also increase their rates so they’re getting on with it.

“Similarly, a lot of prospective buyers are wary that house prices could bounce back quite sharply if no-deal proves to be a damp squib and the balance of power swings back to sellers.

“Many people have come to the conclusion that there is as much risk to the wait-and-see approach to Brexit as just getting on with it.”

There were 95,126 mortgages approved by the main high street banks in July 2019, the highest monthly total since July 2009 when the figure stood at 99,970.

Richard Pike, Phoebus Software sales and marketing director, added: “These latest figures from UK Finance are the most encouraging for a while.

“The statistics bear out the regional figures released last week, which showed that across every region, other than in London, mortgage approvals were up.

“Mind you, even in London first-time buyer numbers were up in line with the rest of the country.

“As we know the lending figures for July were for mortgages approved up to three months ago.

“It will be very interesting to see what the figures look like in September and October when the latest HMRC figures showed that property transactions fell considerably in July.”

Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, said: “At the back end of the summer holidays, these figures are a nice jump into autumn, and a welcome contrast to the subdued data we have got used to seeing.

“High street banks are lending back at 2009 levels so are loosening their credit a little to encompass more borrowing.

“There is also more demand from people buying property, with home purchases also up, which is great news as it shows transactional flow is happening.”

By Michael Lloyd

Source: Mortgage Introducer