Buy to Let

Sharp fall in mortgage lending recorded in January

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

When you take out the peak pandemic period, mortgage approvals are at their lowest level for well over a decade

Mortgage lending fell from £3.1 billion to £2.5 billion in January, according to the latest figures from the Bank of England.

Mortgage approvals for house purchases – which are considered a good indicator of future borrowing levels – decreased to 39,600 in January from 40,500 in December, the fifth monthly fall in a row.

The Bank pointed out that, if you exclude the start of the pandemic when the housing market effectively closed down – this was the lowest level of approvals since January 2009.

Approvals for remortgaging to a different lender also fell, to 25,400 in January from 26,200 in December, the lowest level since July 2012.

The ‘effective’ interest rate – the actual interest rate paid – on newly drawn mortgages increased by 21 basis points, to 3.88% in January, said the Bank.

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “It’s no wonder that few people have the spare cash or the optimism to consider buying a property. The number of mortgage approvals has fallen for the fifth consecutive month. Excluding the early pandemic period, when the market was effectively closed, it’s the lowest number of approvals since 2009 – back when house prices had fallen 15% in a year and buyers were few and far between.

“Buyers face much higher mortgage rates than we have got used to. They’ve fallen back from the peak in the autumn, but average rates on new mortgages of 3.88% pushed property out of reach for an awful lot of people.”