UK Mortgage approvals at ten-year low

MORTGAGE lending fell to its lowest level in a decade in September, the latest figures
from the British Banker’s Association (BBA) showed yesterday confirming earlier figures produced by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) last week.

Gross mortgage lending stood at £8bn last month, 10.8 per cent lower than a year earlier.

The number of mortgage approvals dropped to just 31,100 in September, 26 per cent lower than a year earlier and well down on the average 55,000 mortgages approved three or four years ago.

The average value of mortgages also fell to £142,900 although this was 4.1 per cent higher than a year earlier.

David Dooks, BBA statistics director, said subdued mortgage activity and little demand for unsecured credit were a reflection of household uncertainties ahead of last week’s spending review by the government.

But he added: “Demand for new mortgages remains low despite more properties on the market and falling house prices.”

Net mortgage lending increased to just £1.6bn in September compared to £2.9bn a year earlier as repayments remained at fairly strong levels, the BBA added.

Howard Archer, an economist at Global Insight, said: “In our view, the housing market has got very little going for it at the moment, apart from low mortgage rates ?– and that is if you can get a mortgage.

The latest figures heaped more pain on homeowners by confirming the CML’s own data on mortgage approvals published last week, which showed £12bn was lent to borrowers in September, the lowest amount since 2000.

The lending figure was one per cent lower than the previous month and seven per cent lower than a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England on Friday in its “Trends in Lending” report warned that mortgage lenders expected “house prices to remain little changed or decline slightly in 2011” as public spending cuts and job losses took hold.