Mortgage approvals at highest levels for two years

Figures released by the Bank of England have shown that approval rates reached their highest level for two years in January.

The figures show that British lenders approved more than 58,000 new mortgages in January this year, an increase of 7% on December.

The total number of new mortgage approvals stood at 58,728 in January, which is an increase of 30% on the same time last year.

The figures for January are the highest since December 2009, leading industry experts to forecast an increase in property sales over the next couple of months.

But some are urging more cautious optimism for the UK housing market, as the boost could have been put down to first time buyers taking advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

“New lending and approvals for house purchases picked up across the market in January, perhaps in part due to first time buyers taking advantage of the stamp duty holiday before it ends in March,” said Adrian Coles, Director-General of the Building Societies Association.

The two-year stamp duty holiday for first time buyers comes to an end on the 24th of March, prompting many new buyers to take out a mortgage before it comes to an end.

The two-year concession has meant that first time buyers have not had to pay the 1% stamp duty on properties worth between £125,000 and £250,000.

Given the positive effect the stamp duty holiday has had on the UK housing market, some analysts are questioning the government’s decision to end it.

“We doubt the wisdom of allowing the current stamp duty exemption for first-time buyers to expire in March. We are now likely to see an unhelpful bunching of activity prior to the concession’s expiry, followed by a dip,” said the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

“At a time of economic fragility, the loss of the stamp duty concession risks having a disproportionately negative effect on household sentiment, which we believe it would be best to avoid.”

References:

Declan Murray has has worked at Clearstart since it was acquired by it’s parent company, Fairpoint Group, in 2007. As a senior debt advisor Declan works alongside specialist Insolvency Practitioners and advises customers on all aspects of their debt including IVAs from first call right through to closures. Declan has been an active forum specialist since 2009 on IVA.co.uk – a popular, award winning forum providing IVA support.

ClearStart UK, Mortgage approvals at highest levels for two years

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