The buy-to-let market saw the highest year-on-year increase, where values increased by 39% to £37.9bn and in volume by 28%, to 252,200, compared to 2014.
However, this growth fell 3% in volume to 22,500 and value to £3.4bn in December, and 1% in volume to 70,500 and value to £10.7bn in Q4 against the previous year.
Jonathan Harris, director of Anderson Harris, said: “Interestingly, buy-to-let has been leading the way over the past few months with lending at its highest since 2007. However, while year-on-year growth continues, the month-on-month figures have dipped, which poses the question: are the wheels finally coming off the buy-to-let wagon?”
He said the changes in tax relief and the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge introduced in the Autumn Statement will deter more speculative investors, but that landlords looking for long-term investments are unlikely to sell up or desert the sector in droves.
In 2015, remortgage activity increased 20% by value to £55bn and 11% by volume. In December, remortgaging grew by 14% in volume to 25,500 and 24% in value to £4.2bn, while Q4 saw increases of 21% in volume to 89,000 and 35% in value to £15bn compared to the same time the previous year.
Andy Knee, chief executive of LMS, said: “It has been a volatile start to 2016 and there are a number of challenges facing the remortgage market. The global financial markets in particular are causing mounting speculation and concern.
“The early part of this year will also be dominated by the topic of a potential Brexit and what that could mean for the UK economy. This uncertainty looks set to impact activity and confidence in the property market, with fluctuating lending expected until the outcome appears more certain,” he said.
Home movers took out marginally fewer loans, decreasing 0.2% to 365,800 in 2015, but the amount borrowed totalled £72.1bn, up 7% on the year before. The volume of loans in Q4 increased by 9% compared to Q4 2014 to 101,900. Values also rose by 18% to £20.3bn year-on-year. December saw a 20% increase in value to £6.6bn and 12% increase in volume to 33,400 compared to December 2014.
However, despite the raft of government initiatives, the levels of first-time buyer lending flat-lined in 2015 with no volume increase on 2014, but a 4% increase in value, with amounts totalling £46.7bn last year. Q4 saw growth in volume of 8% to 87,100 and a 14% growth in value to £11.7bn year-on-year. December also saw an 18% increase in value to £3.8bn and 11% increase in volume to 26,300 compared to December 2014.
Paul Smee, director general of the CML, said improving economic conditions and government schemes like Help to Buy has helped raise lending levels to the highest yet post-recession.
“The market has seen a gradual upward trajectory over the past few years, rather than rapid growth, and we’d expect this trend to continue with gross lending steadily increasing over the next two years,” he said.