Gross mortgage lending up 43pc
The amount lent was £15.2bn compared to £10.6bn last year, yet this was still 6% lower than January’s figure of £16.1bn, writes Ryan Bembridge.
Bob Pannell, CML chief economist, said: “Housing market indicators have continued to be strong over recent months, once seasonal factors have been taken into account.
“First-time buyers have benefited most from the government’s Help to Buy initiatives, with the more recent mortgage guarantee scheme now starting to push typical loan-to-value levels higher.
“The housing market got a further boost from this week’s Budget. This, together with benign developments in the economy more widely, should bolster short-term sentiment and activity.”
Ashley Brown, director of independent mortgage broker Moneysprite, is satisfied that the heating up of the mortgage market is now easing off.
He said: “That the monthly levels of growth have dipped is no bad thing – steady growth is infinitely preferable to silly growth.”
“We’re already seeing a rise in remortgage levels and we expect that to continue in 2014 as people fix their mortgages to protect against rate rises.”
Stephen Smith, director, mortgage club and housing at Legal & General, agrees: “These figures from the CML show that the mortgage market is returning to a healthier level of lending. With Help to Buy 1 now being extended until 2020, it is likely that the upward trend in mortgage lending seen recently will continue despite the introduction of the MMR.
“However, there are still some major obstacles for those looking to get on the housing ladder or move from their current home. House prices in certain parts of the country continue to rise far faster than the rate of wage inflation making them simply unaffordable for many.
“The government’s initiatives to build more homes, announced in yesterday’s budget, will go some way to help keep the market fluid and ensure demand doesn’t continue to outstrip supply. Despite this, we still need to see much more stimulus to house building.”
Ian McGrail, managing director of FirstMortgage, added: “This growth looks set to continue steadily into the year, although we would expect activity to slow down temporarily at the end of April when the Mortgage Market Review comes into effect, as lenders get to grips with the reality of the reforms imposed.”
Duncan Kreeger, director of West One Loans, stressed that the market needs more housing supply to continue its rapid growth.
He said: “Building may have got a boost in yesterday’s Budget, there are still many questions left unanswered. 200,000 new homes looks good on paper but we still don’t know where these will be placed.
“It’s all very well to build a garden city in Ebbsfleet, but if demand is greatest in urban areas, it’s unclear how this will help. The hard truth is that to really increase the supply of homes where they are most needed requires complex property conversions and refurbishments – and it’s still almost impossible to get mainstream funding for these types of projects.”