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Strong March mortgage approvals take industry ‘by surprise’

  • 01/05/2015
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Strong March mortgage approvals take industry ‘by surprise’
Mortgage approvals in March have risen after a subdued start to the year, but are still failing to match lending figures achieved a year ago, Bank of England (BoE) data shows.

House purchase approvals in March increased to 61,341 compared to 60,117 in December, with remortgage lending also rising slightly on February’s figures from 32,211 to 32,591.

However, in March last year, lenders were driving volume ahead of the Mortgage Market Review last year with house purchase lending at 67,135 deals and remortgaging at 32,492.

An average of 70,363 mortgage approvals for house purchase were made each month, over the past six months, with 34,846 on remortgaging.

Richard Pike, sales and marketing director, Phoebus Software said: “The increase in loans for both purchase and remortgage in March has taken everyone a little bit by surprise after a very subdued start to the year. It indicates that perhaps the election is having less of an impact on the mortgage market than many of us thought.

“Record low rates being announced on a weekly basis has got to help consumer confidence and this together with the fact that lenders seem to have eased back a little on affordability criteria should mean that completions continue to rise.”

But Richard Sexton, director of esurv, added that the figures indicated the mortgage market may need a “jump start” to see figures resume to normal.

“Lending has been broadly flat since the beginning of the year. The bottom of the market has significantly slowed since December, even though all the necessary support mechanisms would appear to be in place for new buyers – with plenty of high LTV lending and mortgage rates at record lows,” he said.

“We’ve also seen new impetus from stamp duty changes, which would have been expected to charge-up demand a little more. Uncertainty remains – with the looming prospects of mansion tax on one hand and proposals to increase housing stock on the other. These political pressures are acting as an anchor to growth in the housing market.”

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