Mortgage approvals up in December, according to BoE

The number of loans approved for house purchased has risen for the fourth consecutive month, according to information published by the Bank of England.

In total, 70,837 mortgages were approved, up from 70,424 in November. It also sits comfortably higher than the average for the previous six months of 69,462.

The number of remortgages was also up on the six monthly average, with 41,708 approvals for December compared with the six monthly average of 39,540.

Overall, mortgage approvals are up 18% year on year from 102,910 to 124,803.

Peter Rollings, CEO of Marsh & Parsons, said: “Mortgage lending in December reflected some of the rejuvenated confidence radiating from buyers. After the Autumn Statement extensions to Help to Buy, and the rock-bottom base rate lasting out the year, first-time buyers were feeling decisive, and this was mirrored by a clear upswing in house purchase approvals from November to December.

“This energy has definitely been carried over into 2016, and January has already seen an impressive influx of motivated buyers, eager to progress up the property ladder.

“2015 was also the year of remortgaging for many existing homeowners – and this momentum is showing no signs of dissipating while cheaper fixed-rate mortgages remain available. But in coming months, we can expect strong buy-to-let lending, as the April introduction of higher stamp duty for second homes gives a new sense of urgency for those looking to invest in property or expand their existing portfolio.”

Richard Sexton, Director of chartered surveyor e.surv, said: “The end of 2015 saw a steady flow of lending to homebuyers, with healthy monthly totals reflecting improved finances, aided by a year of low inflation and rising wages. But these supportive economic conditions can only go so far, and the recovery is being hindered by lack of available homes from sellers.

“The property pipeline needs to be supported right the way through. Currently, Help to Buy is giving first-timers a fighting chance to get on the ladder and keeping up demand levels for the houses that are available to the market.

“It’s also encouraging that the government are looking to redevelop brownfield sites into new homes. But there will be a time lag before these new homes can be built, and there is a question around whether there are enough.

“Speeding up the homebuilding process is essential, and updating our antiquated planning system would help this along. Meanwhile, we should encourage homeowners to keep moving. Marriages, births and divorces can all spur different housing needs – but at the moment many people are stuck in unsuitable housing as they can’t find the right home for their next step. Transaction costs may be putting others off selling-up.”

Today's Conveyancer