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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Mortgage approvals leap 24% in December

Monthly mortgage approvals soared 24% year-on-year to £12.4 billion in December but brokers deny lending is getting out of control.

Across 2015, mortgage lending rose 6% to a total of £137.8 billion, according to new figures from the British Bankers’ Association.

This includes loans for house purchases and remortgaging.

Adrian Anderson, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said: “Borrowers exude confidence, incomes are rising, and lenders are keen to lend but this is not a debt-fuelled boom.

“Mortgage approvals are improving but far from racing away growth is more moderate and therefore more sustainable than in the past.

“For many borrowers, tougher affordability criteria is still a barrier to getting a mortgage or remortgaging.”

Anderson said that January has got off to an “unseasonably good start” as second homebuyers rush to beat the stamp duty hike from April.

“They may have to accept they won’t get a market-leading rate as they will need a lender who can act quickly.”

Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, said savvy homeowners lending are remortgaging to better rates, with approvals up almost a third annually.

“2015 saw the greatest number of remortgage approvals in four years. As house prices climb and mortgage rates remain low, now is an excellent time to switch to a new mortgage deal.”

Murphy said rock bottom interest rates have made the property market more accessible but was concerned about the cost of getting on the property ladder.

Mark Harris, chief executive of broker SPF Private Clients, said challenger banks have helped push rates down to record lows and with interest rates unlikely to rise anytime soon, low rates are expected to continue.

“The biggest issue for many is actually qualifying for one of these great mortgage deals.

“Tighter affordability criteria as a result of the Mortgage Market Review mean certain groups are finding it hard, such as older borrowers, the self-employed and those requiring interest-only mortgages.

“First-time buyers have seen high loan-to-value rates fall but are still paying considerably more than those with bigger deposits.”

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