Mortgage lending lull ends as March registers upturn as General Election uncertainty fails to make slow demand

Chris Papadopoullos
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“The underlying lending picture is stabilising”
Mortgage lending has picked up in March following a slow start to 2015, data released yesterday by the Council for Mortgage Lenders (CML) show.

Gross mortgage lending reached £16.5bn, 21 per cent higher than in February and seven per cent higher than March last year. Lending remains below levels seen last summer and is far below pre-crisis numbers.

“The underlying lending picture is stabilising,” said CML chief economist Bob Pannell.

“Sentiment and activity are showing early signs of improvement, and should be further supported by the effects of stamp duty reform. We expect to see lending strengthen over the next few months, albeit from a relatively sluggish start in 2015.”

Mortgage market analysts have been quick to point out that uncertainty over the General Election has failed to put a substantial dent in the lending, thanks in part to a mortgage price war between lenders.

“There has been chatter in the market about the upcoming election putting the brakes on housing activity, but there is still appetite in the market for lending, and consumer demand has also held strong. Mortgage rates continue,” said Brian Murphy, head of lending at the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors said: “As we prepare to welcome in the next government, the mortgage market is in fine fettle. For borrowers who can only afford a small deposit, getting a mortgage has turned from fantasy to reality over the last eighteen months. Banks are more willing to lend at high loan-to-value ratios, and rates are the most competitive we have seen in decades.”

Survey figures released today by Halifax show that net 21 per cent of people believe its a good time to buy, down from 34 per cent last month and 35 per cent in March 2014. However, the figure is higher than the five per cent trough it reached last July.

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