Approvals for purchases and remortgages were all higher in March than the same month last year, UK Finance’s Household Finance data has found.
In March 2019, approvals for home purchase were 9.3% higher, remortgage approvals were 11.1% higher and approvals for other secured borrowing were 1.7% higher year-on-year. Meanwhile gross mortgage lending across the residential market in March 2019 was £20bn, 0.5% lower year-on-year.
Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, said: “These numbers come as no surprise – gross lending is subdued because the first quarter has been stagnant as a result of the Brexit wait. There was never going to be a huge growth in lending.
“However, as far as the second quarter of the year and beyond is concerned, if the levels of activity we are seeing are anything to go by, the picture may be changing.
“With Brexit pushed back, far enough away for people to forget about it a little, and with fewer column inches in the papers, this is all a positive as it stops people from worrying about it too much.
“They are getting on with life, looking at opportunities to improve their portfolios – from an investment point of view, Brexit is getting less attention now, which has to be a good thing.
“The one thing that is quite encouraging is that more people are paying back their credit card debt; when credit card debt is creeping up, it means people are living beyond their means but in this case it’s healthy that people are paying that debt down.”
Vikki Jefferies, proposition director at PRIMIS, added: “As lenders continue to diversify their product offerings to keep up with consumer demand, the combination of innovation, consumer confidence, and ongoing broker support should mean that the mortgage market is well placed to continue growing – in spite of any political uncertainties the rest of the year may bring.
“Indeed, the last few months have proved just how resilient the market is. Mortgage networks will still have a key role to play here, ensuring brokers have the support they need to best serve clients, no matter their circumstances.”
The number of mortgages approved by the main high street banks in March 2019 was 9.1% higher than March 2018, which was a particularly subdued month for total mortgage approvals.
David Copland, director of mortgage services at TMA, added: “Despite ongoing political headwinds first-time buyers continue to look for opportunities to take their first steps onto the housing ladder, while those looking to move weigh up their options.
“In order to guide customers down the best route for their circumstances, advisers are on hand to provide them with the support and expertise that they need.
“With the market committed to producing quality solutions, this should reassure consumers that their needs remain at the forefront of the industry, no matter what uncertainties may be in store.”