First-time buyers and remortgage activity on the part of homeowners has supported lending for some time, but UK Finance anticipated the pace of growth to slow slightly, dampened by a potentially more challenging economic outlook.
John Phillips, Just Mortgages and Spicerhaart operations director, said: “Today’s gross lending estimate may be generally flat, but there are elements within the housing market that are faring better than others. Namely the first-time-buyer sector.
“With over one million help-to-buy ISA accounts opened since it was launched, there may have been fears that construction of new homes could be a stumbling block to getting first-time-buyers onto the housing ladder, even with financial help.
“However, in its latest construction output figures the Office for National Statistics reported that construction of new homes was at its highest level for 15 years. This bodes well for the one element that appears to be keeping the market as a whole afloat in trying times,” he added.
House purchase approvals of 41,587 in July were similar to the monthly average of 41,567 over the previous six months, but nine per cent higher than in July 2016, which reflects a slowdown in the middle of last year.
Figures from the old British Banking Association database, as represented by 21 institutions across the banking groups of Barclays, HSBC Bank, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Santander UK, TSB and Virgin Money, showed gross mortgage lending at £13.2bn in July. This was in line with recent months but five per cent higher than in July 2016. According to these figures, actual growth in net mortgage borrowing in July was 2.5%.
Commenting on the data, Eric Leenders, head of personal at UK Finance, said: “Consumer borrowing from high street banks remained stable in July, as continued pressure on household budgets reduced spending and saving.
“Steady levels of mortgage activity seen through the first half of the year continued into July. First-time buyer numbers continue to be strong, helped in part by government schemes. But that has been offset by home movers, where a shortage of homes on the market is limiting their activity,” he said.