Buy to Let

CML: August lending up on last year

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show mortgage lending for house purchase in August was down 9 per cent on July but up 2 per cent on last year.

The trade body data shows that first-time buyers, home movers, remortgaging and buy-to-let all saw a monthly decline in lending in August but an uptick compared to August 2014. It described the figures as a “normal seasonal trend” with August typically less strong for mortgage completions.

Bob Pannell, chief economist of the CML, said: “Seasonal factors pushed all categories of lending lower in August compared to July. However, the mortgage market continues to see year-on-year growth, and we expect this to continue over the coming months.”

House purchase lending saw a month-on-month decline by volume and by value for the first time since April this year. However, this was the third consecutive month that lending for house purchase increased year-on-year by volume and by value.

As previously reported, UK gross lending in August totalled £19.7bn, down 9 per cent on July but up 10.7 per cent on August last year.

Overall in August, homeowner loans for house purchase accounted for 57 per cent of gross lending, while remortgage activity accounted for 21 per cent. Buy-to-let lending as a proportion of total gross lending remained at 17 per cent, a consistent level since the beginning of the year, but up from 13 per cent in the same period last year.

First-time buyers accounted for 44 per cent of total house purchase lending volumes in August, a much higher proportion than pre-crisis levels of 30 per cent of the number of loans for house purchase.

This was the highest monthly first-time buyer lending level by volume and by value in the month of August since 2007, but the number of loans was only 78 per cent of the August 2007 levels.

The proportion of first-time buyer gross household monthly income in August to service capital and interest payments stayed the same month-on-month at 18.5 per cent, but remained considerably lower than 19.7 per cent in August last year, and much lower than the most recent high of 24.8 per cent in December 2007.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “Excellent mortgage rates continue to attract buyers and those remortgaging as lenders remain keen to do business in order to meet their targets.

“With first-time buyers accounting for 44 per cent of total lending volumes, a much higher proportion than pre-crisis levels of 30 per cent, the trend for lenders to offer higher loan-to-value mortgages continues. Yet it is encouraging that first-time buyers are not over stretching themselves, with the proportion of income to service mortgage payments continuing to fall year-on-year.”

Shaun Church, director at broker Private Finance, said: “The swap rate outlook for the next ten years is around 2 per cent, which is a clear sign that markets do not expect a sharp interest hike in the foreseeable future. For borrowers, this means that low rates are here to be enjoyed for some time to come.

“In addition, mainstream lenders such as NatWest have returned to the interest-only market which is set to encourage further competition and product innovation among this group of lenders. This move back towards interest only lending is one that should be welcomed, rather than feared, as these products can cater to a sizeable chunk of the market and can be hugely beneficial for the right borrower; assuming they are suitably underwritten in the first instance.”