The number of residential mortgages approved by banks dipped last month, easing back from a 26-month high in April but remaining above the monthly average.
Seasonally adjusted figures show that banks in Britain approved 42,384 house purchase mortgages in May, falling from roughly 42,900 in April but beating the consensus of 41,000.
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The actual number of mortgages for home purchase approved by the main high street banks in May 2019 was also 9.1 per cent higher than in the same month in 2018, marking the highest annual level since June 2016.
According to UK Finance, which released the figures this morning, gross mortgage lending across the residential market in May 2019 was £21.9bn, falling 0.4 per cent compared with the same month in 2018.
“May’s mortgage approvals data support the view that housing market activity may well have got at least some temporary support from the avoidance of a disruptive Brexit at the end of March. It may very well also be that the housing market has benefited from recent improved consumer purchasing power and robust employment growth,” said Howard Archer, chief economic advisor at the EY ITEM Club.
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Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “The increase in mortgages for home purchase, rising to the highest level in three years, is hugely encouraging when you consider the political uncertainty which is causing many people to put decisions to move on hold.”
He added: “It suggests a much more resilient market than one might expect, and once a decision is made over Brexit, one way or another, we are likely to see a further uptick in transactions as pent-up demand is released.”