Housing lifted by government scheme boost

Ben Southwood
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MORTGAGE lending climbed rapidly through the third quarter and into October, two sets of data showed yesterday, as the Funding for Lending scheme finally appeared to be having an impact on lending.

This came in tandem with a reversal in the downward <a href="/house-prices">house price</a> trend of the past few months, revealed by another set of statistics.

The third quarter saw £4.2bn of buy-to-let mortgage lending, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said, an increase of eight per cent on the previous quarter. And the number of house purchase loans jumped ten per cent into October, hitting 54,713 on the Esurv mortgage monitor, the highest monthly rate since January this year.

And the housing market seemed to be showing “signs of life” after this credit infusion – prices edged up 0.1 per cent on the month, according to LSL property services, making the average price 2.3 per cent higher than in October last year.

“Although the number of borrowers able to secure a mortgage remains far from healthy by historic standards, lenders are starting to pass along cheaper finance provided by the Funding for Lending scheme (FLS),” said LSL boss David Newnes.

But Newnes warned that the effects of FLS could be both positive and negative. “The capital banks are required [by FLS] to set aside for each higher risk loan is likely to act as a drag on high loan-to-value lending,” he said, calling this, “a factor which may prevent a return to anything like the number of first-time buyers in the market before the credit crunch in the forseeable future.”

And data from Rightmove seemed to confirm this judgement about first-time buyers – who are set to make up just 25 per cent of the buyer mix in 2013, well below pre-crisis standards, commonly at around 40 per cent. “The list of challenges to get onto the property ladder seems to be getting longer rather than shorter,” said Rightmove director Miles Shipside.