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Buy-to-let lending steady in Q1

Overall, the total outstanding number of buy-to-let loans rose from 1,305,000 at the end of 2010 to 1,313,200 at the end of March 2011, with a rise in the outstanding value of buy-to-let lending from £151.5billion to £152billion.

Buy-to-let lending accounts for 12.3% of total outstanding mortgage lending by value, and 11.6% of mortgages by number.

Lending criteria and characteristics changed very little in the quarter. The average maximum loan-to-value ratio remained at 75%, with the average minimum rental cover requirement at 125%.

In terms of loan performance, the arrears rate on buy-to-let lending is increasingly similar to the owner-occupied sector. As at the end of March, the three-month arrears rate stood at 1.62% on buy-to-let loans where no receiver of rent was in place, and 2.24% on buy-to-let loans if receiver of rent cases were included.

This compares with a three-month arrears rate of 2.15% in the owner-occupier sector.

The repossession rate on buy-to-let mortgages remained higher than in the mainstream market (0.13% of buy-to-let loans were subject to repossession in the first quarter, compared with 0.07% of owner-occupied loans), as has been the case for a substantial period, primarily reflecting the additional forbearance efforts in the owner-occupier sector to keep borrowers in their homes (as opposed to landlords whose properties may be empty, for example).

CML director general Michael Coogan said: "Buy-to-let continues to progress positively in the context of a stable, but still low-volume, overall market. Demand for rental property remains strong, and as more funding becomes available we would expect to see buy-to-let lending increasing.

"The performance of buy-to-let loans is also holding up well, and the differential between arrears rates in the buy-to-let sector and the owner-occupier sector has narrowed substantially so that there is now only a modest difference between them."

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