Paragon’s Financial Adviser Confidence Tracking Index, a panel-based survey of mortgage brokers, found that remortgaging accounted for 28% of buy-to-let business during the period, down from 30% in the final quarter of 2009. This is the fifth consecutive quarterly fall and the lowest level since the first quarter of 2005.
Conversely, the proportion of first-time landlords rose for the second consecutive quarter, accounting for 21% of brokers’ buy-to-let business. The proportion of first-time landlord business has been lower than the level of remortgaging since the first quarter of 2006, but the two are now close to converging.
The proportion of business from landlords extending their portfolios also fell during the period, from 52% in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 45% during the first quarter of 2010, whilst property substitution, where the landlord is purchasing property to replace one being sold, rose from 2% of business to 5%.
The proportion of buy-to-let business handled by brokers overall dipped slightly to 13% of total mortgage business, down from 14% during the previous quarter.
John Heron, Paragon Mortgages’ managing director, said: “There is little incentive for landlords to move from their existing lender, and even if they wanted to there is a serious lack of buy-to-let mortgage products available.
“The low interest rate environment means that most landlords with a mortgage are financially better off staying on their reversionary rate with their existing lender rather than remortgaging to another lender. If they did want to move, their options are very limited. Moneyfacts figures show there are only approximately 300 buy-to-let mortgage products available today, compared to over 3,500 at the market’s peak.”
Heron added: ‘It is positive that first-time landlords are coming back into the market, however, as the stock of private rented sector property is coming under increasing strain. It is important that lenders encourage landlords who take a long-term approach to their investment, rather than speculators.”