Mortgage approvals hit highest level since December ’09

The increase was triggered by the loosest lending conditions since October 2007, as the average deposit fell back to 38% in November, down from 40% in October. By way of contrast, it was 42% in November 2010. Furthermore, there were more loans to borrowers with small deposits. Loans to borrowers with a deposit of 15% or under accounted for 13% of all lending in November, up from 10% in October, and the highest since October 2008.  The average deposit on typical first time buyer property fell to 31%, the lowest since August 2008, and down from 33% in October. 

The rise in purchase approvals was driven by an increase in the number of first-time and low income buyers, who were the beneficiaries of the looser lending conditions. They were also supplemented by buy-to-let investors who are taking advantage of increased lender appetite to support the professional BTL landlord in particular. Purchase approvals for homes below £125,000 – typical first time buyer and buy-to-let property – rose to 12,791 in November, up from 11,904 in October. Loans for purchases below £250,000 accounted for almost three-quarters of all loans, suggesting wealthier buyers are starting to represent a less disproportionate share of the market.

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv, said, “The market is thus far showing resilience in the face of the chaos emanating from the eurozone. For the last few months, the banks have been focusing their lending on specific groups, particularly buy-to-let investors, but this is the first time they appear to have increased lending to first time buyers in any notable sort of volume.

The banks are under intense political pressure to lend more to first time buyers, despite being under scrutiny on the amount of capital they hold. They pushed out more high-loan-value mortgages over the summer to try and increase their market share, and we’re beginning to see a greater uptake of these mortgages after an initial lag. More first time buyers are rolling up their sleeves and piecing together the bigger deposits required to access high loan-to-value mortgages. No doubt they are sick of paying astronomically high rents and having their monthly budgets ransacked by the increasing cost of living.”

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