Mortgage lending bounces back in May

Remortgage lending also increased in May with £3.5 billion advanced for remortgage. This was up from £3.1 billion in April but down from £3.8 billion 12 months ago when there was a greater expectation of interest rate rises.

First-time buyer activity bounced back following the volatility of March and April. 18,100 loans, worth £2.3 billion, were advanced to first-time buyers in May, up from 12,700, worth £1.5 billion, in April. This may be a 43% rise (53% by value) from April but, following the distorting effects of the end of the stamp duty concession, this returns first-time buyer lending back to a similar level seen in the second half of 2011.

The characteristics of first-time buyer loans began to return to normal after March and April’s stamp duty effect. First-time buyers on average took out a loan of £104,000 in May, up from £97,750 in April. They also borrowed 3.21 times their income, up from 3.12 in April and they paid 19.6% of their income in capital and interest payments, up from 19.1%. All of these May figures are more in line with the typical experience over the last year. The proportion of first-time buyers buying properties valued at between £125,000 and £250,000 rose from 37% in April to 44% in May, but was not quite back at the norm of around 50% seen since 2007.

Lending to home movers also increased with 30,200 loans taken out, worth £4.9 billion. This was up 29% by number and value compared to April and up 25% (29% by value) from May 2011.

Repayment loans continue to dominate within all groups. 98% of loans taken out by first-time buyers were on a capital repayment basis, unchanged since March, 87% of home movers took this option, up from 85% in April and 82% of those remortgaging also did, unchanged since April.

CML director general Paul Smee commented:

"It is positive news for the market that the slump following the end of the stamp duty concession seems to have been short-lived. Lending is similar to late 2011 levels and showing a healthy improvement on the same time last year.

"However, the problems in the Eurozone have not gone away. Economic uncertainty could affect both the supply of mortgage lending and consumer confidence and we still anticipate a challenging lending environment for the rest of the year."

Paul Hunt, managing director of Phoebus Software said: “While the mortgage market may not be in prime health, it has certainly lost its sickly tinge after April’s lull, and it is reassuring that the subdued level was nothing more than a blip after disruptive effects of the end of the stamp duty holiday. The revival in first time buyer numbers in May demonstrates not only the underlying buyer demand, but that lenders have pushed the market forward to unlock this demand – in spite of being buffeted by the impact of the ongoing eurozone crisis. Further relief for banks and building societies may be found in the new funding for lending scheme, which could provide lenders with the means to drive growth in mortgage lending despite the wider economic climate as the year progresses.

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