Positive March figures reported

Ramesh Sharma

April 29, 2006

The BSA recorded mortgage approvals of £5,643m for March 2006, up from the £3,646m seen in February and from £4,499m for the same month last year.

When seasonally adjusted, this revealed a rise in approvals from £3,823m in February 2006 to £4,672m in March, which the BSA said pointed to a buoyant market.

Adrian Coles, director-general of the BSA, said: “Lending activity is well up on a year ago, suggesting building societies are taking a significant share as the market recovers relatively strongly this Spring. Particularly notable is the high approvals figure for March, suggesting a high level of lending as the Spring progresses.”

Meanwhile, the BBA also recorded strong March figures, with net mortgage lending in March at £5,424m, compared to February’s £4,735m.

However, it also highlighted a fall in personal lending, such as credit cards, overdrafts and personal loans, which it attributed to consumers being wary of taking on further unsecured debt.

David Dooks, director of statistics at the BBA, said: “The contrast between stronger mortgage lending and net repayments of unsecured borrowing suggests that individuals are optimistic about the housing market, but are careful about card borrowing, overdrafts or taking on personal loans.”

Jonathan Cornell, technical director at Hamptons International Mortgages, said: “March was our best month ever and our figures point to a positive outlook. There seems to be a certain amount of optimism around the housing market at the moment. Whether this will continue indefinitely is another matter but it’s a case, at the minute, of people making hay while the sun still shines.”

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