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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

The "wheels are coming off" buy-to-let

Mortgage brokers have suggested that the wheels may be coming off the buy-to-let bandwagon after new figures showed lending to landlords dipped in December.

Latest monthly lending trends from the Council of Mortgage Lender's show gross buy-to-let lending fell 3% both by volume and value compared to November.

Analysts expressed surprise at the dip given that recent figures suggest the rush to beat the looming stamp duty surcharge on investment properties had driven housing activity to record highs.

Gross buy-to-let lending still rose 28% by volume year-on-year and 39% by value to hit its highest level since 2007.

Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said that buy-to-let has been leading the way over the past few months with lending at its highest since 2007.

“However, while year-on-year growth continues, the month-on-month figures have dipped, which poses the question: are the wheels finally coming off the buy-to-let wagon?”

Harris condemned "the succession of draconian measures introduced by the Government” and said they will hit demand, especially from more speculative investors.

But he added there was no reason to panic. "Those landlords who are looking for long-term investments are unlikely to sell up en masse or desert the sector in droves."

David Whittaker, managing director of Mortgages for Business, blamed the slowdown on the sluggish winter months.

“The buy-to-let sector still accounts for around 18% of the overall mortgage market, a remarkably steady performance compared to previous years."

Jeremy Duncombe, director, Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “With the new stamp duty changes now firmly on the horizon, buy-to-let lending is likely to spike due to a surge in demand in the first few months of 2016.”

The big question is what happens to buy-to-let after the surcharge kicks in on 1 April.

Duncombe said he expected the lack of supply will continue to limit choice and drive homebuyer demand after 1 April, keeping prices high.

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