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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Buy-to-let drives mortgages to nine-year high

The housing market has been given a one-off boost from the surge in buy-to-let lending triggered by April’s tax changes.

New figures show that house purchase approvals rose more than 20% to 85,432 in January, up from 70,837 in December.

This drove total approvals to their highest level for nine years, according to the latest Mortgage Monitor from e.surv.

Approvals rose 39.3% over the year to January, with sales rising from 61,341 in January 2015.

First-time buyers also enjoyed a positive January as the number of small-deposit loans hit 12,388, up from 11,546 in December.

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors, said: “Buy-to-let approvals contributed to the growth in January home lending.

“Concerns about the sector’s growth have sparked a wave of legislation but as stamp duty changes come into effect this April, there has been a rush to get buy-to-let loans approved.

“Many have predicted a narrowing of the buy-to-let sector but actually what we’re seeing appears to be the opposite.

“This buy-to-let rise also hasn’t been at the expense of first-time buyers. The number of small-deposit loans granted has risen in January, and this is a great sign that lenders still have the appetite to give first-timers a chance.

"Rising wages and a delayed interest rate rise have also boosted first-timer’s prospects.”

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