Home lending reaches "neutral gear"

Helen Cahill
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Confidence has returned to the UK housing market after the Brexit vote (Source: Getty)

Lending on homes has reached "neutral gear", lenders said today, but there has been a shift towards first time buyers as the buy to let market cools off.

Gross mortgage lending increased 19 per cent month-on-month in March, to £21.4bn, according to figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

Read more: House price growth in London falls to just 1.5 per cent

This figure was significantly less than the amount borrowed in the same month last year, when borrowing came to £26.3bn as buy to let landlords rushed to beat the three per cent stamp duty hike.

The growth in transactions as compared to February was reliant on first time buyers, with the number of first-time buyers reaching 342,000, the highest figure over the last nine years. Remortgaging activity was also strong, the CML said.

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CML senior economist Mohammad Jamei said: "Mortgage lending appears to be in neutral gear. Our gross estimate for March is £21.4bn and this is broadly in line with average monthly lending over the past year.

"Within this aggregate level, there has been a shift towards first-time buyer and remortgage customers, away from home movers and buy to let landlords.

“We expect this profile to continue over the short-term, as low mortgage rates encourage existing borrowers to remortgage and government schemes help first-time buyers. We do not expect any marked effect from the General Election.”

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