Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

January mortgage lending up 10%

Figures indicated that first-time buyers rushed to sign mortgage deals before the end of the stamp duty holiday

Mortgage lending was 10% higher than a year ago during January as first-time buyers rushed to complete deals before the end of a stamp duty amnesty.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said its year-on-year figures improved for the sixth month in a row after its members lent £10.5 billion in January.

Although 14% weaker than December because of seasonal factors, the CML said the performance was in line with improved sentiment in the housing market.

It believes the March 24 deadline for the end of the stamp-duty free period for first-time buyers on properties under £250,000 has boosted activity.

CML chief economist Bob Pannell said: "Should inflationary pressures continue to fall back, the squeeze on household finances should ease progressively and help support stronger economic recovery going into the second half of the year.

"This can only be good news for the housing market further down the track."

Nicholas Leeming, business development director at Zoopla.co.uk, predicted a lull in activity in the middle of the year as a result of the rush by first-time buyers to meet the stamp duty deadline in March.

He added: "It's important then that lenders keep introducing attractive and affordable mortgage deals to boost activity. If they don't, we're in danger of taking one step forward and two steps back."

The CML's members are banks, building societies and other lenders who undertake around 94% of all residential mortgage lending in the UK. There are 11.2 million mortgages in the UK, with loans worth more than £1.2 trillion.

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