BoE: mortgage approvals fall

Robyn Hall

April 2, 2013

A total of 51,653 mortgages were approved during the month, down from 54,187 last month. The value of the approvals was down to £7.7bn from £8.1bn in January.

The number of remortgages approved was up to 26,711 from 25,783 in January however that was below the six month average of 27,741.

Andy Knee, chief executive of LMS, said: “The latest BoE lending statistics shows that although the number of approvals over the past month has remained reasonably constant, there has been a shift in emphasis within the market.

“The number of approvals for house purchase has fallen considerably whilst the number of approvals for remortgaging has seen an increase.

“This rise is most likely due to the significant number of excellent value deals for those with low loan to values that are currently available for remortgagers.

“Although this is good news for the remortgage market, these figures underline the need for the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, which is due to be introduced later this week.”

The bank’s gross lending figures also showed a £0.9bn rise in loans secured on properties compared with an average monthly increase of £0.4bn over the previous six months.

Gross lending hit £12.8bn in February and was not quite offset by £12.6bn in mortgage repayments.

Peter Williams, executive director of IMLA, said: “Today’s Bank of England figures show that, while the overall value of mortgage lending rose in February, the only modest increase in activity levels was seen in the remortgage arena. With house purchase approvals lagging behind January’s total, and below the six month average, it is clear that better rates alone will not be enough to boost house purchases in significantly larger numbers.

“Many lenders are understandably cautious about relaxing their borrowing criteria, which is one reason why the Funding for Lending Scheme is yet to have the scale of impact that was hoped. If it is implemented effectively, the new Help To Buy mortgage guarantee will encourage higher loan to value lending, but there are eight long months before this comes into play and there are lots of operational details still to settle.

“Expanding the First Buy equity loan scheme to all new home buyers in the meantime will certainly help to boost the number of mortgage approvals. But with new build homes in short supply, we must hope that it also encourages house builders to increase output to meet the extra demand.”

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