Buy-to-let lending has risen |to its highest level since the fourth quarter of 2008, figures showed.
In the second quarter of 2010, the number of buy-to-let mortgages taken out was 24,900, up 13% on the previous quarter, and 15% higher than the same period last year, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said.
At the end of June, there were 1.26 million buy-to-let mortgages outstanding, worth a total of £149bn, accounting for 12% of all mortgages — the highest proportion since records began, according to CML.
The group said the freezing of the buy-to-let mortgage market that emerged as an unwelcome side-effect of the credit crunch appeared to have eased.
With fewer people able to afford entry costs of home-ownership, the CML predicted tenant demand for private rented property would remain strong.
CML director general Michael Coogan added: “Finance for private landlords, whether institutional or individual, is crucial if the UK is to have enough homes to meet the needs of the population.
“Funding conditions for lenders remain tight, but there is every reason to expect the buy-to-let sector to continue to make a powerful contribution to helping meet the country's varied housing needs.”
Low interest rates helped to reduce the number of landlords who are behind with their mortgage repayments, the CML said yesterday.
Around 18,500 people, the equivalent of 1.46% of all those with buy-to-let loans, were in arrears of at least 1.5% of their outstanding mortgage at the end of June, down from 19,300 at |the end of 2009, and 22,900 a year earlier.
There was a slight increase in the number of properties that were repossessed at 1,600, up from 1,400 during the previous three months, and 1,400 a year earlier.
The CML said it anticipated little change in the wider housing market over the latter part of this year, and forecast only a modest rise for 2010 for the wider mortgage market.
Ed Stansfield, chief property economist at Capital Economics, said: “The recovery in buy-to-let lending in the second quarter was noticeably stronger than in the wider mortgage market.
“But it will be a long time before buy-to-let lending regains the market share it enjoyed in late 2007, if ever.”