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Mortgage Approvals Reach 9-Month High

Homebuyers and lenders appear to have brushed Brexit uncertainty in March, as mortgage approvals reached their highest level since June of last year.

Industry data from UK Finance, a lobby group for the financial services industry, revealed that high street banks approved 39,980 mortgages in March, up 6% from a year ago and up 2% from February. That’s the highest number of mortgages approved in a single month since June 2018.

The numbers were greeted as a sign that the housing market is rebounding following a slowdown in 2018 as Brexit negotiations stalled.

The figures confirmed the optimistic prognosis from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), which found that house prices had risen last month for the first time since July 2018. However, Rics warned that worries about Brexit would continue to put a damper on price growth.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former Rics residential chairman, told the Financial Times: “Mortgage approvals for home purchase are always a useful lead indicator of future market activity and these are no exception.

“They confirm what we have been seeing on the ground and in other surveys — that transactions are holding up reasonably well despite political and economic distraction,” he added.

However, he noted that sales are taking longer to complete and that buyers and sellers are having a hard time finding middle grounds on prices. He attributed some of the market turbulence to the withdrawal of buy-to-let investors from the market, following the introduction of a stamp duty surcharge on second homes and cuts to the mortgage interest tax relief. Those buyers haven’t yet been replaced by fist-time buyers.

The market varied regionally as well, he noted.

“The picture is very patchy and can vary considerably between areas which are quite close together and between London and elsewhere.”

The United Kingdom was due to leave the European Union on 29 March, but was granted an extension until 31 October, after Prime Minister Theresa May failed to gain parliamentary approval for her withdrawal agreement.

With the new deadline looming, other analysts cautioned that the recovery in the housing market would be limited.

Capital Economics property economist Hansen Lu said: “Looking ahead, the delay to Brexit suggest that demand and sentiment in the housing market will stay subdued for at least the next few months. As a result, we don’t expect to see a further recovery in mortgage approvals this year. At the same time, a no-deal Brexit looks less likely than before.”

However, recovery in the housing market was matched by and related to other good economic indicators.

While consumers were still wary of big-ticket purchases, “it may well be that housing market activity has gained some support from recent improved consumer purchasing power and robust employment growth,” Howard Archer, from economic forecasting group EY ITEM, fold the Evening Standard.

Annual wage growth is at nearly a 10-year high and unemployment has fallen to 3.9%, a 44-year low.

Soruce: Money Expert

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Mortgage approvals up nearly 10%

The number of people being approved for a mortgage increased by nearly 10 per cent in March.

The latest data from UK Finance showed the number of approvals for home purchase were 9.3 per cent higher in March 2019 than the same month the year before.

Year-on-year, the number of people getting approved to remortgage increased by 11.1 per cent.

Gross mortgage lending across the residential market in March 2019 was £20bn – 0.5 per cent lower than the same month in 2018.

This fall was mainly seen in high street banks, where lending dropped by 3.5 per cent year-on-year.

Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, said the subdued lending in the first quarter came as no surprise due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

He said: “There was never going to be a huge growth in lending in the first quarter. However, as far as the second quarter of the year and beyond is concerned, if the levels of activity we are seeing are anything to go by, the picture may be changing.

“With Brexit pushed back, far enough away for people to forget about it a little, and with fewer column inches in the papers, this is all a positive as it stops people from worrying about it too much.

“They are getting on with life, looking at opportunities to improve their portfolios – from an investment point of view, Brexit is getting less attention now, which has to be a good thing.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “Mortgage approvals for home purchase are always a useful lead indicator of future market activity and these are no exception.

“They confirm what we have been seeing on the ground and in other surveys — that transactions are holding up reasonably well despite political and economic distractions as might be expected at this time of year.

“However, it is still tough to find common ground between even realistic buyers and sellers, and sales are certainly taking considerably longer, not least because as we are finding, buy-to-let investors have not been replaced completely by first-time buyers.

“The picture is very patchy and can vary considerably between areas which are quite close together and between London and elsewhere.”

By Imogen Tew

Source: FT Adviser

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Mortgage approvals made to home buyers jumps to nine-month high

THE number of mortgage approvals made to home buyers in the UK jumped to a nine-month high in March, figures from a trade association show.

There were 39,980 approvals for house purchase, marking the highest total since June 2018, according to UK Finance.

Meanwhile 29,448 re-mortgage loans got the green light in March – the highest figure since August 2018.

UK Finance said personal deposits grew by 0.4 per cent in the year to March, with savers’ money held in instant access accounts growing at a faster annual rate, of 2 per cent.

This reflects consumers’ preference to keep cash close at hand amid ongoing economic uncertainty, UK Finance said.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club said: “UK Finance reported mortgage approvals for house purchases somewhat surprisingly edged up to a nine-month high of 39,980 in March.

“The housing market has been constrained for an extended period by overall challenging conditions – relatively limited consumer purchasing power, despite recent improvement, after an extended squeeze and fragile consumer confidence.

“It should be noted that the overall national picture has been dragged down by the particularly poor performance in London and parts of the South East.”

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said looking ahead, mortgage lending is likely to continue to “flatline”.

“Mortgage rates look set to hold steady, keeping the proportion of home buyers’ incomes absorbed by loan payments at historically low levels,” he said.

“Nonetheless, households’ overall confidence still is low and surveys show a marked deterioration in households’ view that housing is a good investment, which only will have been strengthened by the recent slowdown in house price growth.

“It’s hard to see lending returning to 2013-to-15 levels any time soon.”

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said:

“It is still tough to find common ground between even realistic buyers and sellers, and sales are certainly taking considerably longer, not least because as we are finding, buy-to-let investors have not been replaced completely by first-time buyers.

“The picture is very patchy and can vary considerably between areas which are quite close together and between London and elsewhere.”

Andrew Montlake, director of mortgage broker, Coreco believes there has been a “marked improvement” in the property market in the past month or so.

“Something has changed, and this week in particular has seen a huge surge in mortgage inquiries,” he said.

“There’s always a surge in activity levels during the spring but this year it has been accentuated by the pent-up demand caused by Brexit.

“Those who aren’t buying are re-mortgaging in order to improve their homes, and many are picking up an even more competitive rate as they do so,” he added.

Source: Irish News

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UK mortgage approvals tumble to six-year low

Mortgage approvals have slumped to a near six-year low, industry data showed on Tuesday, as heightened Brexit uncertainty rattled the UK housing marking.

According to UK Finance, which represents high street banks and other lenders, 35,299 mortgages were approved in February on a seasonally-adjusted basis. That was down from January’s revised figure of 39,555, a 2.2% decline on February 2018 and the lowest since April 2013.

Gross mortgage lending across the residential market was £19.1bn, 2.5% higher than February 2018.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the sharp fall was “almost entirely due to the recent jump in Brexit uncertainty”.

He continued: “Surveys such as the RICS Residential Market Survey have pointed to a downturn in house buyer demand since November, so the prior resilience of approvals in January had been puzzling. According to RICS, new buyer enquiries fell in February at the fastest rate since May 2008, so we expect approvals to continue to fall over the coming months.”

However, Pantheon Macroeconomics argued that – provided the UK quits the European Union with a deal – the housing market should steady itself as the year progresses, with the UK Finance measure of approvals returning to between 40,000 and 50,000 in the second half.

Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the E&Y ITEM Club, said February’s fall meant mortgage approvals are now “well below the 38,000-40,000 range that largely held through 2018”.

“February’s drop to a near six-year low adds to recent indications that heightened economist and Brexit uncertainties are weighing down on the housing market,” he added. “It is already under pressure from overall challenging conditions – still relatively limited consumer purchasing power after an extended squeeze, fragile consumer confidence and wariness over higher interest rates.

“With Brexit now likely to be delayed until 22 May at least, further uncertainty is likely to weigh on the housing market. This has caused us to trim our forecast for house price growth over 2019 to just 1%.”

UK Finance also said that unsecured consumer credit growth was 3.8% in February. That is the lowest level since October and only marginally ahead of July’s 3.7%, the weakest since October 2014.

Credit card spending was £9.7bn in February, 1.1% up on the same month in 2018. Personal loans were ahead 2.3% while overdrafts were 0.6% lower.

Archer said it appeared consumers were being “relatively cautious” in their borrowings, while lenders had become “warier” about advancing unsecured credit.

By Abigail Townsend

Source: ShareCast

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Mortgage approvals hit record highs in UK regions despite property market lull

Banking trade body UK Finance has unveiled lending data showing how well first-time buyers, home movers and those remortgaging fared during 2018 in the UK regions of London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Despite concerns about the property market stalling, the data shows some regions had record levels of approvals for first-time buyers and home movers.

Approvals for first-time buyers in Northern Ireland hit a 14-year high last year at 10,600, up 9.4% annually.

Similarly, approvals to first-time buyers in Wales hit their highest level for 12 years at 16,900, up 4.3%.

There were 42,800 new first-time buyer mortgages in London during 2018, 0.5% more than in 2017, but Scotland recorded a 3.1% annual drop to 34,100.

In the home mover market, Northern Ireland recorded the highest number of approvals since 2007 at 6,600, up 6.5% annually.

The number of home mover mortgages approved in Wales was at its highest level for 11 years at 15,800, a 0.6% annual increase.

However, home mover mortgage approvals fell by 5% annually in the capital to 28,800 and declined 0.9% in Scotland to 34,300 during 2018.

Meanwhile, all four regions had record levels of remortgaging approvals during 2018.

Remortgage approvals hit decade-highs in London and Wales.

There were 60,400 remortgages in the capital, a 6.2% annual increase, while Wales recorded 20,100, 12.3% more than in 2017.

There were 9,500 remortgages in Northern Ireland, up 11.8% year-on-year and remortgage approvals in Scotland hit a seven-year high at 35,400, up 11% on 2017.

Commenting on the figures, Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said: “First-time buyer numbers across the country have risen on the back of cheap mortgage rates and Stamp Duty exemptions.

“The much-maligned Help to Buy scheme is also playing a large part in helping first-time buyers on to the housing ladder, while more lenders are offering high loan-to-value deals.

“In London, despite recent price falls, affordability remains an issue with the deposit the biggest barrier to home ownership.

“The Bank of Mum and Dad is being called upon more than ever before, but those who don’t have this resource are finding it very difficult.”

Source: Property Industry Eye

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UK mortgage approvals edge higher

The number of new mortgages approved by the main high street lenders nudged upwards in January, data published on Tuesday showed.

UK Finance, the trade body for the big banks and building societies, said that approvals for home purchase rose 1.5% year-on-year in January, while re-mortgage approvals were 3.1% lower, giving an overall rise of 0.3%.

The drop in re-mortgaging follows several months of strong growth as customers looked to lock in deals, with some doubt over what the Bank of England’s plan will be for rates amid the extra uncertainty of Brexit.

Gross mortgage lending was 1.5% lower, at £21.6bn.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “January’s data indicate that mortgage lending is holding up much better than surveys of house buyer demand have suggested.

“We’re reluctant to conclude, however, that housing market activity is on a sustainable recovery path. The new buyer enquiries balance of the RICS Residential Market Survey fell to its lowest level since June 2008 in January; the balance usually is a great guide to the lending data. The sharp downturn in lending in 2016 also demonstrates that Brexit uncertainty can be very damaging.

“Even a sluggish pace of rate hikes, following the resolution of Brexit uncertainty, will prevent mortgage approvals from recovering to pre-referendum norms over the next couple of years.”

UK Finance said that £10.8bn was spent on credit cards in January, a 4.4% hike on the same month a year earlier, with the outstanding level of credit card borrowing also growing by 4.4% in the 12 months to January. Personal borrowing through loans and overdrafts was ahead 4.7%.

Personal deposits grew by 0.4% in the year to January, which UK Finance said “suggests that the recent rise in real wages has not yet translated into higher levels of savings”.

Source: ShareCast

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UK consumer lending growth slows to new three-year low, mortgage approvals jump

Lending to British consumers slowed again last month to its weakest rate in more than three years, but there was a pick-up in the housing market with a jump in mortgage approvals, Bank of England data showed on Thursday.

The BoE figures showed the annual growth rate in unsecured consumer lending fell to 7.5 percent in October, its weakest since May 2015 from 7.9 percent in September, when there was a sharp drop in new car purchases.

Other economic data in recent months have mostly shown slower consumer demand since an unexpectedly robust summer, as shoppers rein in purchases and express concern about how leaving the European Union in March next year will affect them.

However, the BoE said the number of mortgages approved for house purchase rose to 67,086 in October from 65,726 in September, the highest number since January and above all forecasts by economists in a Reuters poll.

The housing market has slowed for most of this year, with major mortgage lenders reporting price growth slowing to a five-year low.

Net mortgage lending, which tends to lag behind approvals, also beat all forecasts at 4.121 billion pounds last month, up from 4.015 billion the month before, the BoE said.

On Monday industry body UK Finance reported the number of approvals for house purchase picked up to a four-month high in October, though they were still slightly down on a year earlier.

British house price growth has slowed this year, mostly due to falling prices in much of central London, where demand has been hit by higher purchase taxes on expensive homes and reduced foreign investor appetite since 2016’s Brexit vote.

Wednesday saw BoE Governor Mark Carney warn that in the unlikely – though growing – possibility of a “disorderly” departure from the EU in March next year, house prices could fall 30 percent as part of broader economic dislocation.

The central bank also said demand for consumer lending had been subdued by Brexit uncertainty, but could ramp up again once the prospects for Brexit were clearer.

Figures for October alone showed a 0.894 billion pound increase in unsecured lending, slightly below economists’ forecasts of a 1.0 billion pound rise.

Source: UK Reuters

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Buyers and banks ignoring Brexit concerns as mortgage lending hits highest level since January

Mortgage approvals for house purchase have hit their highest levels since January.

Banks approved 67,086 home loans in October, up 2% on a monthly basis, according to Bank of England data on mortgage lending.

Remortgage approvals, which had previously dominated the market, were flat at 49,339.

It backs up estimates by banking trade body UK Finance earlier this week that mortgage lending for house purchase had hit a three-month high.

Commenting on the data, Kevin Roberts, director at the Legal and General Mortgage Club, said: “There’s no doubt that Brexit and the ongoing political uncertainty has made some buyers and potential sellers act with caution, despite the current low interest rate environment.

“However, with its growing choice and flexibility, the mortgage market continues to entice borrowers looking for competitive deals.”

Source: Property Industry Eye

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House purchase mortgage approvals hit a three-month high

Home buyers have received some long-awaited good news as mortgage approvals for house purchase increased for the first time in three months, banks claim – but are they being driven by the return of 100% deposit “supersized mortgages?”

Lending data from trade body UK Finance shows mortgage approvals for house purchase were up 3.6% annually and 21.2% on a monthly basis to 45,289 during October.

Lending to home buyers had been falling since July 2018 and hit a six-month low in September.

The boost seems to have come at the expense of remortgaging, with approvals in this area down 13.5% year-on-year to 33,505.

The value of gross mortgage lending across the market in October was up 5.6% to £25.5bn.

It comes amid reports of the return of controversial “supersized mortgages,” which require little or no deposit and were seen as a cause of the 2008 financial crisis.

Comparison website Moneyfacts lists 16 different 100% loan-to-value mortgages that don’t require any deposit but do need a guarantor, which is usually a family member or a charge placed on another property or someone’s savings.

Bank of England data shows that a quarter of mortgages are now for 4.5 times someone’s salary or higher, compared with a fifth just three years ago.

Debt charities and mortgage brokers have warned it is important that borrowers aren’t stretched too far.

However, UK Finance doesn’t seem concerned.

A spokesman told the Daily Mail: “High loan-to-income mortgages are only likely to be available to those who have good prospects for wage increases, such as those in certain professional roles.

“Before they are able to offer any mortgage, lenders must undertake a strict affordability assessment in accordance with the rules outlined by the regulator.”

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Mortgage approvals stall in September

Mortgage approvals slumped in September and gross lending steadied in what marked a turn of events following the strong remortgaging activity seen in the months to August.

In its latest household finance update trade body UK Finance reported gross lending in the residential market had dropped to £21.5bn in September, 1.2 per cent lower than the £21.8bn seen in the same month the year before, with £13.1bn being arranged by high street banks.

The number of mortgage approvals by the main banks was also down 9.1 per cent on last September’s figures, with house purchase approvals down 10.1 per cent from 41,529 to 37,352.

In the month before, August, falling house purchase approvals had been offset by strong remortgaging activity, but approvals in the remortgage market were also down in September.

Year on year they have fallen 7.4 per cent, from 29,899 last September to 27,676 now. Compared with August, the month the interest base rate was raised to 0.75 per cent, figures were down 14.7 per cent.

Eric Leenders, managing director of personal finance at UK Finance, said: “The mortgage market softened slightly in September, following strong remortgaging activity in the months preceding the recent base rate rise.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said the softening of the mortgage market in September had come as no surprise as Brexit uncertainty was causing a number of borrowers to defer making decisions.

He said: “As soon as we have a definite deal, whatever that may look like, we expect to see a bounce as people finally make the decisions they have been deferring.”

John Goodall, chief executive at buy-to-let specialist Landbay, said the slow down in mortgage lending suggested a wider deceleration in the market.

Mr Goodall said regulatory changes, “extortionate” stamp duty, and Brexit had all contributed to a slump in the mortgage market.

He said: “Landlords have historically found themselves targets of the budget, so all eyes are on next week’s announcement.

“It is clear that now is not the time for the Chancellor to make changes or he runs the risk of further damaging the private rental sector. The only sweetener would be a reduction or removal of stamp duty, which would provide a much needed boost for the market.”

Source: FT Adviser