Mortgage approvals fell for the third successive month in March, Bank of England mortgage approval figures show.
In March there were 66,837 approvals for house purchase, down from 67,936 the month before, and 42,814 for remorgage, down from 43,740 in February.
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “The Bank of England figures are slightly surprising as they are fairly similar to February’s data, when one would normally expect a seasonal pick up at this time of year. Yet we are not seeing the uplift we would have expected.
“However, they reflect what we are seeing on the ground – the market is behaving quite cautiously, partly to do with Brexit and the General Election, with people being very nervous about taking on extra debt unless they are sure about the outcome.”
Jonathan Sealey, chief executive of Hope Capital, wondered if consumer confidence fell due to the triggering of Article 50.
He said: “It is interesting to see the Bank of England figures showing a drop in remortgaging for the first time this year.
“Given the low interest rates, with many lenders now offering their lowest rates ever, it may be that consumer confidence waned as we approached the triggering of Article 50.
“What will be more interesting is the figures next month following the General Election announcement.
“Remortgages have been keeping the whole market afloat, along with first-time-buyers, so it is an important sector.
“We will wait with bated breath, but the opportunity to get a better, cheaper deal may win out over any uncertainty in the end.”
Jeremy Duncombe, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, hoped the issue of housing will be talked about in the leadup to the General Election.
He said: “As the market gears itself up for another general election, it is vital that the housing agenda isn’t kicked into the long grass.
“It is paramount that a plan to address the nation’s severe lack of housing supply features on the manifesto of every party.”
John Phillips, group operations director at Just Mortgages and Spicerhaart, is staying positive about the state of the market.
He said: “I am confident that new deals from lenders, including Scottish Widows which has launched its lowest ever remortgage rates, and the low interest rate environment, will help to open up the market and keep it buoyant post Article 50.”