The central bank reported that purchase approvals dropped by around 3,000 in the month to 62,300, although this was marginally offset by a slight increase in the number of approvals for remortgages, from 49,289 to 49,713.
However, new gross lending dipped to £21.6bn in the month, down from £22.6bn in February, and also down from £22bn in March 2018.
Remortgaging pushes market
Jonathan Harris, director of Anderson Harris, argued that Brexit uncertainty was clearly still having an impact on people’s property decisions.
He continued: “That said, mortgage lending picked up in March compared with February as some people got on with buying and selling their homes regardless. Much of the activity was down to remortgaging as borrowers locked into some of the competitive fixes currently available to protect themselves from potential future uncertainty.”
Richard Pike, director of sales and marketing at Phoebus Software, said the Bank of England figures were a “mixed picture”, but suggested that there will come a time when Brexit-related caution is thrown to the wind and people push on regardless.
“Then we’ll see how well the housing market copes with demand. That being said, it would be a very brave person that would put their hat in the ring with concrete predictions for the coming months,” he added.
Nick Chadbourne, chief executive of LMS, suggested that April will likely be a strong month for completions, though new enquiries may tail-off.
“However, as we move into summer, both are likely to build again, delivering a surge in demand for mortgage brokers, lenders, and conveyancers,” he continued.