Highest house purchase lending in July

Nia Williams

September 12, 2011

Both figures were at their highest since last August, though were lower than July 2010.

By contrast remortgaging rose both on a monthly basis and on the same month last year. There were 31,500 remortgages worth £4bn in July up from 31,300 worth £3.8bn in June.

Lending to first-time buyers also hit its highest level in a year in July.

The value rose to £2.3bn from £2.2bn in June and was the highest monthly total since last July when it was £2.4bn.

By number there were fewer loans to first-time buyers. There were 18,200 first-time buyer loans down from 18,500 in June and 19,500 in July 2010.

Loans to home movers increased in both number and value in July. Around 30,600 loans were advanced, up 4% compared to the previous month, while the value totalled £5bn up by 6% compared to June.

There was little change in lending criteria for first-time buyers and home movers.

Average deposits for first-time buyers have held steady at 20% for most of 2011 and they typically borrowed 3.18 times their income in July, down from 3.22 in June.

Home movers borrowed on average 69% of their property’s value in July down from 70% in June but this figure has fluctuated by no more than 3% for nearly three years.

Paul Smee, director general of the CML, said: “The UK mortgage market is currently holding steady. But August saw global financial turmoil and unrest closer to home and recent Bank of England approvals figures do not necessarily suggest a continuing upturn in lending in coming months.

“However it is likely that this reflects weak consumer appetite for borrowing, more than any additional constraints on the availability of mortgages.”

Brian Murphy, head of lending at the Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: “With the UK economy suffering a barrage of bad news, and the country as a whole haunted by weak growth prospects, both mortgage lenders and borrowers are feeling more than a little punchdrunk.

“Borrowers are clearly still deeply wary. This data shows that total lending to first-time buyers rose in July, but the number of first-time buyer loans was down both on the previous month and on the same time last year.

“It was particularly interesting to note the start of a gradual shift away from fixed rates towards variable rates.

“While during uncertain times like these, people’s instinct is to seek out the stability and security of a fixed rate, more are being tempted by variable rates.

“This is less of a vote of confidence in the economy than a recognition that its continued weakness will force the Bank of England to keep interest rates at rock bottom.

“All the economic mood music is that the base rate will stay at its current record low level until well into next year, and possibly even longer.

“As a result variable rates are suddenly looking less risky. There is a hint of encouragement here for the lenders, but lending levels are still low and there is a long way to go until this bruised industry can return to anything like normal.”

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