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Mortgage borrowers switch back to fixed-rates

The number of loans for remortgage continued to decline as low reversion rates and stricter credit criteria for the best deals made refinancing less attractive.

There were 31,000 remortgage loans in April, 22% down on March and 65% down on April last year. Gross mortgage lending in April was £10.5billion, down from £11.5billion in March. 

There were 22,100 loans to home movers worth £3.1billion, compared with 30,600 loans worth £5billion in April last year.

Lending criteria continued to edge down with a typical home mover putting down a 33% deposit and borrowing 2.63 times their income, compared with 30% and 2.69 in March.  

There were 13,500 loans to first-time buyers worth £1.4billion, compared with 18,800 loans worth £2.4billion in April 2008.

The average first-time buyer had a 25% deposit (unchanged since February) and borrowed 2.96 times their income (2.99 in March). The slowing rate of decline in these measures and the recent introduction of a number of higher loan-to-value products may indicate an easing in criteria in coming months’ advances. 

The cost of servicing new mortgages fell again in April, with first-time buyers typically committing 15% of income to pay their mortgage interest, the lowest proportion since May 2004. And home movers typically spent 11.3% of income on mortgage interest payments, the lowest proportion since November 2003. 

CML head of research, Bob Pannell said: "With the interest rate cycle now at its floor, an increasing proportion of borrowers are taking out fixed rates, including for longer term periods of five to ten years. With expectations for rates to remain low in the near future, shorter term fixed-rate deals are less appealing than attractively priced variable-rate deals. 

"There are tentative signs of house purchase lending stabilising, but we need to see considerably higher transaction levels to underpin house prices."

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