The rush to beat April's stamp duty surcharge on second homes continued to fuel record high levels of lending in February.
House purchase approvals reached 72,799 in February, up 17.4 per cent on the same month last year and the second highest monthly figure since January 2014, according to figures released today by UK chartered surveyor e.surv.
This was above the average 71,173 approvals seen across the previous six months, but down by 2.4 per cent from 74,581 approvals granted the previous month.
E.surv director Richard Sexton said the flurry of activity was driven not only by the looming stamp duty but also the EU mortgage credit directive, which will come into force at the end of this month, bringing stricter guidelines for buy to let borrowing.
“For buy to let investors, the race really has been on to beat both pieces of legislation. Some concerns about these changes are overly pessimistic."
"Before the implementation of last year’s new MMR rules, uncertainty was rife among both borrowers and lenders but the reality wasn’t as dramatic as predicted by many. MMR actually brought in positive changes for the industry and further regulation has the potential to do the same," Sexton said.
The report showed strong activity among first-time buyers too, with 11,429 loans approved to buyers with deposit worth 15 per cent or less compared with 10,814 the month before and 9.1 per cent ahead of last year.