Mortgage lending across the residential market in December 2018 reached £21.1bn, some 4.7% up year-on-year, UK Finance’s Household Finance Update has found.
Furthermore, gross mortgage lending during 2018 was £267.5bn, some 3.8% higher than in 2017.
Eric Leenders, managing director, personal finance at UK Finance, said: “Mortgage lending grew in December compared to the previous year, with borrowers defying seasonal trends and purchasing a property throughout the festive period.”
The number of mortgages approved by the main high street banks in December 2018 was 2.4% lower than the same month the previous year; approvals for home purchase were 5.3% higher, remortgage approvals were 5.8% lower and approvals for other secured borrowing were 18.9% lower.
Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, added: “2018 turned out to be a steady year for the mortgage market, with an uptick in lending volumes on the previous year despite prevailing Brexit uncertainty.
“It goes to show that many people still have to get on with the business of moving, whether it’s for more space for a bigger family, schools or for work, no matter what is happening with the wider political and economic situation.
“December continued to see plenty of activity as people got on with moving despite the festivities and it traditionally being a quieter time of year for the housing market.
“We are finding in January that some of those who have put off moving decisions are feeling renewed vigour and are getting on with their lives, rather than waiting for what comes out of Westminster.
“Lenders are certainly keen to lend. Rates are competitive, with a number cutting rates this month and there are no signs that pricing is going to edge upwards anytime soon.”
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “These figures show that sales are still happening, where buyers and sellers are taking a longer-term view, prompted perhaps by the need to live near schools, work, or downsize.
“Negotiations can be tough but more successful when the parties concentrate on the difference between the buying and selling price – not the headline figure.
“Transactions and mortgage approvals/advances have proved to be a better indicator of future property market health for us than more volatile prices which vary considerably area by area and are often influenced by local as well as national factors.
“In the past few weeks, we have noticed supply shortages, improving affordability, very low unemployment and mortgage rates are proving more relevant to buyers and sellers than political uncertainty so believe a sharp market correction is unlikely.
“However, perceived risk must be reflected in asking price discounts if terms are to be agreed.”