Big jump in mortgage approvals in January: BoE

Mortgage approvals in January rose to their highest level for three years, according to the latest Bank of England figures.

These figures showed the housing market enjoyed a strong start to the year, with mortgage approvals rising for both house purchases and remortgages.

The number of mortgages approved for house purchase rose to 67,478 in January, a 9.4 per cent increase on the one-year low of 61,692 approvals seen in December.

This was the highest monthly figure since July 2017, and the biggest monthly rise since April 2015.

Remortgaging approvals rose to 49,242, up from the 46,715 approvals seen in December. However, this figure was below the levels seen in October and November last year.

This is the latest piece of statistical information to show the housing market enjoyed a buoyant start to 2018.

Phoebus Software’s sales and marketing director Richard Pike says: “These figures show mortgage approvals for both house purchase and remortgaging increased in January by 9.3 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively.

“This is very encouraging for the mortgage market, and suggests that the stamp duty cut introduced in November for first-time buyers is starting to have an impact.

“As approval rates are up for remortgaging too this suggests borrowers taking advantage of the good rates on offer at the moment before any future interest rate rises.”

However, evidence from Nationwide Building Society suggests that this new year bounce has not been sustained, with house prices slipping back again in February.

Legal & General Mortgage Club’s director Jeremy Duncombe says: “It’s certainly welcome news to see mortgage activity pick up momentum after the new year, and with hints of an interest rise happening sooner rather than later, it will be interesting to see how the market reacts in the coming months.

“Whilst future rises will happen gradually and are likely to only have a modest impact on borrowers, there will be some who are concerned about their long-term finances.”

Bluestone Mortgages director of sales and marketing Steve Seal says: “With low interest rates and a variety of Government schemes available to help first-time buyers consumer appetite remains strong, as evidenced by recent lending figures.

“The problem however is that many people are still struggling to get access to mortgages. Contractors, the self-employed and those with adverse credit histories do not always fit traditional lending criteria and are often ruled out by automatic credit scoring.” He pointed out that self-employed workers now make up nearly 15 per cent of the workforce.

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