Mortgage lending at a 10-year low

GROSS mortgage lending fell to its lowest level in nearly 10 years last month as buyers rushed to complete purchases before the stamp duty holiday ended, the Council for Mortgage Lenders (CML) said yesterday.

Total mortgage lending fell 32 per cent to £9.1bn from £13.4bn in December and down 21 per cent on January 2009. While a decline is typically experienced between December and January, this was the lowest monthly total since February 2000.

CML economist Paul Samter said: “More recent developments have been influenced by the end of the stamp duty holiday, and are likely to foreshadow a larger than usual seasonal drop off in activity in the early part of this year.”

Separate data from the Bank of England, also released yesterday, showed that the flow of net mortgage lending slowed in December, although the three-month annualised rate of lending growth remained unchanged. Lenders also reported that the severe weather around the year-end had depressed mortgage approvals in January.

Net consumer credit picked up slightly in December although the growth rate remained in negative territory. Lending to businesses also weakened and in the fourth quarter of 2009, the stock of lending to firms fell for the third consecutive quarter.