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Stamp duty deadline boosts March lending for house purchase

This is the highest monthly total since September 2011 (£13.6 billion) and the highest monthly total for March since 2008 (£23.9 billion).

Gross lending for the first quarter of this year was therefore an estimated £34.4 billion, down from £37.8 billion in the previous quarter but a 13% increase from the first three months of 2011 (£30.3 billion).

In today’s CML market commentary, CML chief economist Bob Pannell comments:

"The increase in our March lending estimate appears to be almost entirely due to stronger house purchase activity. The most likely explanation is that buyers wanted to complete their transactions before the end of the stamp duty concession on 24 March.

"The underlying picture for house purchase activity has been relatively buoyant in recent months. However, we would be surprised if we did not see a drop in transactions over the next few months, following the end of the stamp duty concession, especially as it will take some while for NewBuy transaction levels to build."

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services said: “These figures are a reflection of the profound impact fiscal policy has on the property market. A flurry of first-time buyer activity in the run up to the end of the stamp duty holiday has caused a temporary spike in lending. Our house price index indicates a 32% increase in transactions in March and the number of first-timers leaving the private sector over the last two months has caused a pause in the growth of rental prices, which have fallen by almost 1% since January. While it’s encouraging to see there are substantial numbers of buyers out there looking to make a purchase, what are now higher barriers to entry for first-timers mean we’re likely to see a reversal in the next few months. Those who haven’t been able to move quickly enough to beat the taxman will be forced to save even larger deposits while occupying property in the private sector. This is likely to mean April’s figures will show a substantial month-on-month fall in mortgage lending and a return to rising rents in most parts of the UK”.

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