Its quarter four management statement out today revealed the bank retains 78% of its customers at point of remortgage.
The popularity of two-year fixes continues to rise, where rates are still below the level seen in 2016, it said and the balances of its customers on Standard Variable Rate (SVR) also declined to £4.9bn from £5.5bn in 2017.
The bank’s buy-to-let (BTL) mortgage balances increased £1.5bn to £8.3bn after completing 11,400 deals, against 7,500 in 2017. This is now nine per cent of the bank’s mortgage lending.
The number of first-time buyers borrowing with Santander also grew to 27,000 with £4.8bn of gross lending, up from £4bn the year before.
Its interest-only residential mortgage excluding BTL balances decreased £2.7bn to £39.8bn, from £42.5bn.
Net mortgage growth of £3.3bn in 2018 was the bank’s strongest lending in over three years despite the highly competitive market, it said.
Average loan size for new business was slightly higher than in 2017 at £203,000 for the UK overall.
Profit before tax of £1.57bn in 2018 was down 14% year-on-year, largely due to continued income and cost pressures, said the bank.
Nathan Bostock, chief executive officer, said: “Our 2018 financial performance reflects our strategy of selective growth, while actively managing costs in the competitive and uncertain operating environment. Our focus remained on earning loyalty through excellent service and compelling products.”
He added: “Net mortgage lending in 2018 was our strongest in more than three years and we helped over 27,000 first time buyers, up 14%.”
He continued: “I believe we are well positioned to succeed by focusing on our core areas of strength, progressing our digital transformation and improving our operating efficiency while remaining strongly capitalised.”
On Brexit, the lender said it had taken account of the nationality and location of its people and customers, contract continuity, financial markets infrastructure such as clearing, access to Euro payment systems as well as third party services and flows of data into and out of the European Economic Area.
Santander in Spain has partnered with software company Raisin to allow customers to authorise banks to data share registration information including name, date of birth, ID or contact details.