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Homemover mortgages fall in London, but first-time buyer business is brisk

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Government and lender schemes are still helping people onto the ladder in the capital but existing homeowners are cautious about moving in the lead up to Brexit
Homemover mortgages fall in London, but first-time buyer business is brisk

There were 11,000 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in London in the fourth quarter of 2018, 5.8% more than in the same quarter of 2017, said UK Finance.

In terms of value, this represented £3.2bn of new lending – 7.4% more year-on-year.

But homeowner mortgage lending fell over the same period as existing owners exercised caution.

There were just 7,400 new homemover mortgages completed in London, 1.3% down on the same quarter of 2017 – and 3.3% down by value.

Londoners still switching

Remortgaging remained popular with homeowners in the capital – up 2.7% by volume and 1.8% by value in quarter four compared to a year earlier, said the financial trade body.

In 2018 as a whole, there were a total of 60,400 new homeowner remortgages, the highest number since 2008.

Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance said: “Remortgaging in London reached its highest level in a decade last year, as customers locked into competitive deals and a large number of fixed rate loans came to an end.

“First-time buyer numbers increased for the third year running in 2018, despite a sluggish first quarter. However, affordability remains a challenge for many potential buyers in the capital, underlining the importance of schemes such as Help to Buy.”

Keith Haggart, managing director of Responsible Lending, added: “The key London property market is a story of two halves with more owner occupiers choosing to stay put while first-time buyers continue to grab Government cash in ever greater numbers.

“Help to Buy lending, which we discovered this week has smashed through the £10bn milestone, continues to draw first-time buyers like moths to a flame.

“Owner occupiers on the other hand are being put off moving, having watched prices soften in the capital. Even though they may also be able to buy for less, falling prices are naturally encouraging people to sit it out and see if prices begin to recover, prompting another decline in homemover mortgages at the end of 2018.”

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