However more than two thirds (70%) of intermediaries still reported problems obtaining a mortgage for some of their clients.
Brokers and lenders both believed the remortgage market had the best prospects for growth in 2017 – although Bank of England figures last week suggested this could be a rocky time for the sector.
Two thirds of brokers (65%) saw limited company buy-to-let lending as the area with greatest mortgage availability growth potential.
However, the vast majority of lenders said there was more likely to be more finance available for borrowing-into-retirement over the rest of the year.
Conditions were most improved for borrowers who sit outside the mainstream mortgage market.
Brokers reported the biggest improvement in sourcing mortgages was for interest-only borrowers – a 23 percentage point fall in the number reporting problems in the sector.
This was closely followed by lending into retirement and borrowers who were self-employed or had irregular incomes – both down by 21 percentage points.
The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), which conducted the research, said brokers were encountering fewer difficulties sourcing mortgages for clients than at any point since the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) in April 2014.
It noted that the 30% of brokers (up from 15%) having no problem sourcing a mortgage for any type of client was a clear reflection of improving lending conditions.
Regulation and affordability
IMLA executive director Peter Williams said the figures were hugely encouraging given the regulatory changes and housing affordability.
“Over the past few years, regulations like the MMR have raised the bar in terms of borrowers’ requirements, which some predicted would leave many borrowers locked out of the market,” he said.
“House prices have been growing faster than incomes over the past few years, which has challenged affordability. This issue has been particularly acute among first-time buyers, which means the fact that just 16% of brokers reported they were unable to source a mortgage for someone in this group over the six months is very positive news.
“Low mortgage rates have continued to support borrowers’ affordability by reducing monthly payments,” he added.
Williams added that he was not surprised the remortgage market was seen as the most significant to increase over the year.