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Brokers hail “bumper” March for lending

Brokers and lenders are celebrating a "bumper month" which saw borrowing in March 64% higher than one year earlier.

Gross mortgage borrowing of £17.1 billion was the highest figure since April 2008, according to the latest high street banking statistics from the British Bankers' Association.

The number of mortgage approvals in March was 20% higher than a year ago, with remortgaging up 25% and house purchase up 14%.

Dr Rebecca Harding, chief economic advisor at the BBA, said: “A surge in buy-to-let and second home buying ahead of the new stamp duty surcharge in April led to a sharp rise in gross mortgage borrowing as people brought transactions forward.”

Adrian Anderson, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, hailed a “bumper month for mortgages” in March.

“I expect April and May’s lending figures to be more subdued as transactions that would normally have happened then were brought forward.”

Anderson said borrowers exude confidence, household finances are relatively strong, interest rates seem unlikely to rise anytime soon and lenders have plenty of money to lend. 

“Remortgaging is also on the up as borrowers realise that while the base rate is unlikely to rise soon, mortgage rates are just so cheap that they are too good to miss.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said the market remains “buoyant" despite potential hiccups on the horizon such as the EU referendum.

“Lenders such as HSBC and Tesco Bank are using brokers for the first time, while more established lenders also wish to bring in more business, which will be reflected in cheap rates and some tweaking of criteria.

“On the buy-to-let side, lenders will need to adapt to lending to limited companies as it looks like an increasing number of investors will go down this route.”

David Whittaker, managing director of Mortgages for Business, expected mortgage activity to settle in the second quarter of the year.

“Landlords will need a bit of time and space to factor in the financial cost of the changes and, if necessary, devise new investment strategies.”

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