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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

“Buy-to-let blitz” lifts mortgages to new high

The rush to complete buy-to-let purchases before April has driven mortgage approvals to a two-year high, property experts say.

The number of loan approvals hit 74,581 in January, up from the average of 70,221 over the previous six months.

The number of approvals for remortgaging was 42,228, up from 40,306 over the last six months, according to yesterday's Bank of England Money and Credit figures.

Richard Sexton, director of chartered surveyor e.surv, said a “buy-to-let blitz” has lifted house purchase approvals to a two-year high.

“Landlords only have a few months left before the tax changes in April, when more punitive stamp duty charges on new purchases will come into play.

“We are seeing a last-minute lift in lending as landlords push through their purchases before this deadline."

Sexton said above inflation wage growth on record low mortgage rates is also underpinning strong core mortgage lending.

He said that foreign demand could revive if sterling falls further in the run-up to the Brexit referendum.

"Overseas investors may be re-encouraged to buy into Britain’s ‘safe-haven’ property market, which could add a further element of competition to an already crowded market.”

Stephen Smith, director, Legal & General Housing Partnerships, said that demand for home ownership is still rising in what looks to be a strong start to 2016.

“Remortgaging has also seen a relative increase for the second month in a row, with more homeowners taking advantage of the competitive deals on offer."

Smith warned that strong house price growth will have a long-term "negative” effect on the housing market with many first-time buyers now priced out.

Steve Griffiths, head of sales and distribution at Kensington, said the strong figures point towards a "new normal" for the mortgage sector.

“While it is good to see more people securing the mortgages they need, we need to make sure that this growth is not just limited to individuals who tick the boxes of high-street lenders’ standard mortgage applications.

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