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Remortgagers drive rise in lending

The housing market enjoyed its busiest February for a decade according to the latest figures from UK Finance.

Some 50,000 mortgages completed for house purchase during the month, the highest level since February 2007.

The figures showed an increase in lending for first-time buyers, home movers and remortgagers year-on-year. There were 25,200 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in February 2018, 2.4% higher than in February 2017.

According to UK Finance, the average first-time buyer is now aged 30 with a gross household income of £41,000, while the average homemover is 39 and has a gross household income of £55,000. There were slightly fewer home loans arranged for those moving house. Home mover mortgages numbered 24,800 in February, the same the year before. However, this £5.3bn of new lending amounted to 1.9% more than a year ago.

The largest increase has been in the volume and value of remortgages. There were 35,400 new remortgages completed in the month, an increase of 11.3% year-on-year. The value of this lending was £6bn, an 11.1% increase on the same month the year before.

The buy to let market was less buoyant, with fewer loans arranged for house purchase. The UK Finance report shows there were 5,200 new buy to let purchase mortgages completed in the month, 8.8% fewer than the same month a year earlier. By value this was £0.7bn, a 12.5% decrease year-on-year.

In contrast there were 14,100 new buy to let remortgages completed in February, some 20.5% more than the same month a year ago. By values with was £2.2bn of lending, a 15.8% increase year-on-year.

UK Finance’s director of mortgage Jackie Bennett said:

“Homebuyers have shaken off the winter blues with house purchase by first-time buying and home movers reaching their highest levels of February in over a decade.

“Remortgages are also up year-on-year as homeowners look to fix costs amid anticipation of further interest rates rises. Meanwhile the buy-to-let market continues to operate at stable buy subdued levels due in part to the impact of recent legislative and tax changes.”

But Octane Capital’s managing director Mark Posniak warned:

“The sharp rise in buy-to-let remortgage activity reflects how landlords, especially amateur ones, are refinancing their portfolios simply to keep their heads above water.

“Yields have been decimated by the recent spate of tax and legislative changes, and for more geared landlords remortgaging is absolutely essential to maintaining a viable portfolio.”


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