CML: Lending up by a third
The figure stands at £15.4bn, 4% higher than the February total.
For the first quarter of 2014 gross mortgage lending amounts to £46.3bn, 10% less than the last quarter of 2013 but 37% higher than the same quarter last year.
Bob Pannell, CML chief economist, said: “Alongside benign developments in the wider UK economy and the labour market, housing market sentiment continues to strengthen.
“There are currently no signs of significant market disruption, arising from the imminent application of new lending rules associated with the Mortgage Market Review.”
Many are anticipating a slowdown when the MMR coming into play officially from 26 April however.
Simon Crone, vice-president of mortgage insurance Europe at Genworth, said: “It is highly likely lenders will pull back on their lending levels during the next quarter as they seek to ensure their compliance with the new regulations plus the tighter affordability rules mean that a number of borrowers will not be able to access finance as they would have pre-MMR.”
Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, agreed.
He said: “With the Mortgage Market Review coming into force next week, we may see a slight cooling in the mortgage market as lenders and brokers get to grips with new systems and lengthier application processes.”
But Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, anticipates a smooth transition.
He said: “With the MMR introduced next weekend, some borrowers will find the mortgage application process more protracted but with many lenders having already introduced the new rules, it should be a fairly smooth transition on the whole.
“What is likely is that more borrowers will use a mortgage broker as intermediaries will be up-to-speed with the rules and have the advantage of being able to advise on products across the whole market.”
Legal and General has seen mortgage lending increase at an even greater rate than the CML figures, with Q1 2014 mortgage lending rising by 74% annually.
Jeremy Duncombe, director of Legal and General Mortgage Club, added: “Increased activity may also be driven by people looking to remortgage before the widely predicted rate rise.
“The low interest rates we have seen in recent times won’t be around for much longer so now is the time to speak to a broker about your mortgage options.”
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients agreed, but does not expect rates to climb any time soon.
He added: “Ensure you don’t over stretch yourself and take on a bigger mortgage than you can afford to pay. If you can’t afford to be wrong i.e. if rates rise, you would struggle with your mortgage, then opt for a fixed rate.
“With Bank of England governor Mark Carney repeatedly playing down expectations of an early rate rise, we are not convinced that it will happen this year or before the general election but borrowers still need to be vigilant.”