Belfast Telegraph

Mortgage approvals hit lowest level since last July

The number of mortgage approvals made to home buyers has dropped to the lowest level since last summer, according to Bank of England figures.

Some 62,918 mortgages worth £10bn got the go-ahead in April, the lowest number since July and 17% below January's peak of nearly 76,000.

The slowdown in housing market activity comes amid rising property prices and the launch of stricter lending rules, which came into force at the end of April.

Under the Mortgage Market Review (MMR), lenders have to spend more time questioning anyone looking to buy a home or remortgage, about their personal spending habits, to assess whether they can afford their mortgage.

Despite the slowdown in approvals, economists believe the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee may take further action to rein in the housing market later this month.

Meanwhile, yesterday's figures also showed that unsecured consumer lending moderated to £666m in April, after rising to an 18-month high of £1bn in March from £588m in February.

Net borrowing on credit cards rose by £435m in April, the largest increase in three years, although it followed a net repayment of £19m in March. The British Bankers Association (BBA) said the figures pour cold water on claims that Britain is experiencing an overblown housing boom.

The Bank of England added that lending to non-financial businesses, including through overdrafts, dropped by £2.4bn in April, compared to the average monthly decrease of £2bn over the previous six months.

Belfast Telegraph