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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Mortgage approvals hit two-year high

New figures show the housing market defying the traditional seasonal slowdown in December as mortgage approvals hit a two-year high.

The number of loan approvals for house purchase hit 70,837, compared to an average of 69,462 over the previous six months, according to latest Bank of England data.

The number of approvals for remortgaging was 41,708, up from 39,540 over the previous six months

Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, said the figures rounded off a successful year. "Existing homeowners were the frontrunners in this growth, with the number of remortgage approvals rising by more than a quarter since December 2014.”

Murphy said borrowers benefited from rock-bottom mortgage rates throughout 2015, and the broker’s data shows fixed rate products continued to get cheaper in December.

“Growing numbers of homeowners are wising up to the fact that it pays to remortgage, particularly if moving from a poor value standard variable rate.”

Murphy said first-time buyers face a tough battle. "With house prices continuing to rise, affordability remains a concern.”

Richard Pike, Phoebus Software sales and marketing manager, said the mortgage market ended 2015 on a high.

“The rush to complete on buy-to-let or second home mortgages before the end of March is likely to push numbers up and give us further growth in the first quarter.”

David Whittaker, managing director of Mortgages for Business, said the next wave of activity will be powered by landlords scrambling to complete transactions before the surcharge on stamp duty kicks in.

“Expect this flurry of activity to continue into the first few months of 2016, as investors rush to apply for their buy-to-let mortgages and lenders do everything in their power to get the good applications completed before the 1 April crunch point.”

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