UK Finance: First-time buyer mortgages rise in December

Jessica Nangle

February 18, 2020


First-time buyer mortgages completed in December 2019 saw a 0.3% year-on-year rise.

There were 29,490 of these mortgages recorded in the latest Mortgage Trends Update from UK Finance.

In addition, homemover mortgages saw a 3.2% yearly increase, with a total of 29,400 completed in December.

There were 16,820 new remortgages with additional borrowing in the last month of 2019, which is 5.9% more than the same month in 2018

For these remortgages, the average additional amount borrowed in December was £50,702.

There were 16,490 new pound-for-pound remortgages with no additional borrowing, which is a 0.5% year-on-year decline.

Gareth Lewis, commercial director of MT Finance, said: ‘These figures are positive, showing that people still have the confidence to borrow money, while everything is pointing towards an upward trajectory for the housing market.

“There are more people remortgaging and taking on additional borrowing but this is not yet ringing alarm bells.

“Far preferable to do this on a cheap mortgage rather than an expensive credit card.

“It is also a sign of the times with homeowners raising money for home improvements and extensions rather than paying the high cost of moving.

“Crucially, mortgages are affordable – people seem not to be overstretching themselves.

“Despite the frustrations of the Brexit stop-start over the past year, people still have the capacity to raise money and can afford to meet their mortgage payments, which is hugely encouraging.”

There were 5,700 new buy-to-let home purchase mortgages completed in December 2019, which is a 3.6% increase from 2018.

Remortgages in the buy-to-let sector saw a 2.3% rise from the same month in 2018, reaching 13,300.

John Phillips, national operations director at Just Mortgages, added: “If November’s figures were damning evidence of the damage caused by the political drift and delay that has characterised the last few years, the December numbers released this morning are a sign that we may finally have turned a corner.

“The General Election took place halfway through the month and since then there has been a strong sense across the market that things are picking up.

“Although loans to first-time buyers are still fractionally down on the previous year, a 3.2% increase in new loans to home-movers suggests that existing homeowners looking to make their next move on the ladder are finally beginning to come back to the market.

“This compares very favourably with the 10% year-on-year falls last month and gives cause for some mild optimism that we may be seeing the much-talked-about ‘Boris bounce’ materialising.

“Whether it will last, is another matter.”

Richard Pike, sales and marketing director at Phoebus Software, said: “Earth-shattering today’s figures are not, but what they are is perhaps more than we might have hoped for.

“Not only have the numbers and values increased in most areas, but they have done it against a backdrop of real uncertainty.

“When you consider that most of the transactions would have been started three or four months earlier we might have been forgiven to expecting less favourable results.

“It just goes to show that no matter what is going on around us there are those that need to move house, those that are in a financial position to buy for the first time and even those that see a great opportunity to invest.

“With the new cabinet in place, and despite the sudden departure of the Chancellor, there is a massive opportunity for the government to move on housing policy and keep the sector moving in a positive direction.”

Kevin Roberts, director at Legal & General Mortgage Club, added: “This is certainly a strong end to the year for the mortgage market amidst the uncertainty that we saw in the lead up to the UK’s General Election.

“Advisers are continuing to help thousands of borrowers with their housing plans and at Legal & General Mortgage Club, we had a strong end to the year with a busy December.

“Now, with a reduction in political uncertainty after the election, we expect to see an uplift in activity as buyers who postponed their housing plans press ahead in the opening months of 2020.

“These borrowers are taking advantage of the current low-interest rate environment to find great deals on their mortgage.

“It’s an excellent time for anyone looking to secure a new mortgage, or considering a switch to a different product, to seek the advice of an independent mortgage adviser.

“Advisers can guide borrowers through some of the important financial decisions they need to make around a mortgage, such as locking in for a fixed term or even taking advantage of alternative products such as an offset mortgage.”

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