35% rise in first-time buyers
Remortgaging has also increased significantly, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).
The trade body’s latest figures reveal that total mortgage lending in the period July to September (Q3) was at its highest quarterly level since 2007.
The number of first-time buyers in Q3 was 35% higher than Q2 2012, with 23,600 mortgages advanced to those taking their first step on the housing ladder.
The number of existing homeowners choosing to remortgage to a new deal was 11% higher in Q3 2013 than Q2 2012.
Lending to homemovers was 21% higher in Q3 2013 than Q2 2012.
Buy-to-let overall in Q3 of 2013 grew compared to the second quarter and the same period last year.
Overall in Q3 2013, there were 170,700 house purchase loans advanced, worth a total of £27.1bn, which is the highest quarterly figure since the fourth quarter of 2007.
Gross mortgage lending was £49.3bn in Q3 2013, up 32% compared with Q3 2012.
Paul Smee, director general of the CML, commented:
“First-time buyers were a key driver in the first half of 2013 but now home movers and remortgages are showing renewed strength which puts the market in a good position to continue momentum into the final few months of 2013 and the new year.”
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, added:
“Although there tends to be a seasonal fall in lending in September, on a quarterly basis it was at its highest level since 2007, demonstrating that the recovery continues. First-time buyers continue to be extremely active, but home movers and the remortgaging market also continue to pick up, showing strength in all areas, and a healthy, well-functioning market.
“First-time buyers are finding it easier to get a mortgage, as Funding for Lending pushes down rates across the loan-to-value (LTV) curve. Early data regarding the Help to Buy scheme suggest that first-time buyers are also primarily benefiting with more than 80% of the Halifax’s applicants so far being first-time buyers, for example. We expect the scheme to significantly boost the number of first-time buyers in coming months.
“Affordability is not yet an issue, even though first-time buyers continue to borrow slightly more relative to income than in previous months. Cheaper mortgage rates mean total payments remain low relative to income, which is encouraging as it means those getting on the property ladder for the first time are not over stretching themselves. This is crucial as buyers must make sure the numbers add up and they can afford any mortgage they take out.
“While all this is encouraging, it needs to be put into context. Transaction levels are still well off their pre-crisis peak although the market is moving in the right direction.”