The latest edition of the Bank of England’s Money and Credit Figures show mortgage lending was strong in the first quarter of 2016, although approval levels dipped somewhat in March.
Just over 71,000 loans were approved in March, a fall from almost 74,000 recorded in February. But the value of loans jumped to £7.4billion in March, well above the average over the previous six months.
Richard Sexton, director of chartered surveyor e.surv, said: “As we predicted, house purchase approvals slipped slightly in March after the stamp-duty surge seen in January and February fizzled out. Although the deadline fell in April, landlords will have had to secure a mortgage beforehand to make this date.
“Many of those taking out finance in March are likely to have missed that cut-off, but notwithstanding a dance around deadlines, the trend is strong. This has been the strongest opening quarter for home purchase lending since the financial crisis. Remortgaging too, continues to thrive in this era of low mortgage rates.”
Sexton said that, while landlords had dominated the property scene over the past few months, it was now time for first-time buyers to take centre stage. “Government support schemes like the Lifetime ISA and Help to Buy are helping more people save for a deposit,” he said. “Wage increases and low inflation are also having a positive impact. But initiatives to build more homes are still in their early stages and it will take some time to create any real difference in the number of new homes on offer.
“In the meantime, the Government should focus on making it cheaper for people to move home to help free-up existing properties for first-timers and second-steppers.”