Lending in Northern Ireland in the last quarter of the year rose, in contrast to the UK as a whole, and this was driven by first-time buyers. They borrowed £220m across the quarter, which represented a 5% increased on the previous quarter and a 16% jump on the same time in 2015.
In Scotland, while borrowing from home buyers overall was down 3% year-on-year in the final quarter, first-time buyers saw loan amounts jump 5% over the same period. This borrowing was worth £910m in total.
Wales had an even better time of it, where borrowing by first-time buyers jumped by 14% year-on-year to £480m. This totalled 4,200 loans, which also represented a 14% rise compared to the same period in 2015.
Julie Ann Haines, CML Cymru chair, said: “It is particularly notable that first-time buyers accounted for a greater share of lending than in any year since 1999, and affordability in Wales compares positively with the UK as a whole.”
A difficult time in London
Perhaps unsurprisingly, things were not quite so rosy for those looking to take their first step onto the housing ladder in the capital.
Over the quarter, first-time buyers borrowed £3bn, which was down 3% on the previous quarter and 4% on the same period in 2015. This equated to 11,000 loans, which was 2% down quarter-on-quarter and 7% down on a yearly basis.
Paul Smee, director general of the CML, pointed out that the number of home buyers in London fell to a four-year low in 2016, and added: “Persisting supply and affordability issues appear to be exerting an ongoing restraint on growth, meaning there is some uncertainty around how the market will perform going into 2017.”
What about remortgages?
The figures also shine a light on just what a positive year 2016 was for remortgagors. In London for example, remortgage activity rocketed 21% compared to the previous year, totalling £16.5bn. In Scotland remortgages jumped 10% in value to £34bn, while it was a similar story in Wales (up 14% to £1.8bn) and Northern Ireland (up 13% to £780m).
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “Remortgaging numbers are exceptionally strong, a result of just how cheap mortgage rates have become rather than any real concern that interest rates are going to start rising anytime soon.
“However, there is uncertainty with regard to Brexit and what that means for our economy, so we are finding borrowers keen to get some security in their own lives, usually by fixing their mortgage payments.”