Belfast Telegraph

Number of first-time buyer mortgages higher than home mover loans

First-time buyers have started taking out more mortgages than home movers for the first time in 20 years, according to figures from banks and building societies.

People taking their first step on the property ladder took out 27,500 home loans in May, marking a 9% increase compared with April, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said.

Meanwhile, existing homeowners who were moving home took out 26,300 mortgages in May, marking a lower number than the first-time buyer figure but still up by 18% month-on-month.

Paul Smee, director general of the CML, said May marked the second month running that the number of first-time buyer loans was running at a higher level than the number of home mover mortgages - marking "the first time in 20 years that this has been the case".

The last time this trend was seen was in early 1996.

Meanwhile, following a stamp duty hike for buy-to-let investors on April 1, buy-to-let house purchase lending in May was running at less than half the levels seen in the run-up to the tax changes, the CML said.

Some 4,400 loans were handed out for buy-to-let house purchase in May - compared with 8,900 loans advanced for this purpose in May 2015.

Looking ahead to the housing market following the EU referendum vote, Mr Smee said: "Brexit, and its likely effect on the market, is a question to which the answer will not immediately be forthcoming.

"Lenders will continue to be open for business as usual, but lending volumes may be affected by uncertain consumer sentiment."

A separate report released by the Bank of England has said that discussions with major lenders following the referendum vote suggest that while mortgage availability is expected to be little changed in the near term, lenders expect demand for mortgages to fall.

The Bank said lenders did not expect mortgage rates to change markedly - but some lenders said credit conditions could tighten if there was a deterioration in the economic outlook. This could make it tougher for some people to get a particular mortgage deal.