British house purchase numbers stayed flat in November, but still remained steady above pre-referendum levels, while UK consumer borrowing increased by the most since March 2005.
UK banks approved 67,505 mortgages in November, compared to 67,371 in October, according to the Bank of England (BoE), but remortgaging levels rose to the highest levels since October 2008 as homeowners continue to lock in low interest rates.
The small rise means mortgage approvals are still above the six-month average of 64,178, although 7.6 per cent below the January 2016 peak of 73,082.
The number of mortgage approvals peaked in the early part of 2016 as buyers rushed to pre-empt take changes in the new financial year. They then dipped in July in the aftermath of the vote to leave the European Union, but have since recovered to pre-referendum levels.
Consumer credit grew by £1.9bn in November, rising from £1.7bn in October, driven by increases in non-credit-card debt.
The figures are roughly in line with earlier readings from the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), which showed mortgage approvals nine per cent lower than the same point last year.
The BBA figures – which are more timely but less comprehensive than the BoE’s – also showed consumer credit growth continuing at around a six per cent annual rate.
The figures show a UK housing market “seemingly struggling for momentum”, according to Howard Archer, chief UK and Europe economist at IHS Markit.
“We believe the fundamentals for house buyers will progressively deteriorate during 2017 with consumers’ purchasing power weakening markedly and the labour market likely softening,” he said.
However, the rise in remortgage approvals signals banks are increasingly willing to lend to those with assets.
Mark Dyason, director of Edinburgh Mortgage Advice, said: "There is a growing sense among existing UK homeowners that the first rate rise for a very long time could be on the horizon.
"Most people now accept that rates are unlikely to get any better and are taking action to lock in to the competitive rates that are still, for the time being, available," he added.