FTB activity grows in November: UKF

UK Finance has released data that shows an increase in the number of first-time buyers in the 12 months to November 2018.

The data reveals that there was a 5.8 per cent increase for new FTB mortgages completed – from 35,800 to 36,200.

The value of new lending for these borrowers rose 9.1 per cent across the same time from, £5.5bn to £6bn.

The number of new homemover mortgages completed also increased across the year, from 35,800 to 36,200 – or 1.1 per cent – with the value of new lending going up by 4 per cent from £7.5bn to £7.8bn.

UK Finance reports that 39,600 new homeowner remortgages were completed in November 2018, having risen from 39,100, an increase of 1.3 per cent.

However, the value of remortgaging, at £6.8bn, was the same as last November’s total.

Furthermore, UK Finance reports that there were 6,100 new buy-to-let home purchase mortgages completed in November 2018, a decline of 9 per cent from November 2017, which saw 6,700 BTL home purchase mortgages.

The value of this equates to £0.8bn, down from 0.9bn, an 11.1 per cent decrease.

There were 15,000 new BTL remortgages completed in the month, increasing from 13,700 a year earlier, growth of 9.5 per cent, and the value of this activity grew from £2.2bn to £2.4bn – or 9.1 per cent.

UK Finance director of mortgages Jackie Bennett says: “A mixture of competitive deals and schemes including Help to Buy saw even more first-time buyers get a foot on the housing ladder during November.

“Meanwhile, homeowner remortgaging activity has steadied, after reaching its highest level in a decade the previous month as a large number of fixed-rate deals came to an end.”

Anderson Harris director Jonathan Harris adds: “Encouragingly, FTB numbers are holding up as they are essential to the overall health of the housing market. Lenders have been tempting them with attractive rates at high LTVs, while government incentives, such as Help to Buy and stamp duty exemptions, are also playing a part.

“FTBs have also benefited from the lack of competition for smaller homes from landlords, with many investors giving BTL a wide berth.

“The year has got off to a strong start with deals to be done for those prepared to take a punt. Some buyers are of the view that the Brexit uncertainty means that sellers will take an offer that they might not have accepted a while ago, so for those who are cash buyers, chain-free or simply have their funding lined up, there are some buying opportunities out there.

“BTL remains subdued although landlords are cannily remortgaging and cutting costs where they can. Mortgage rates are still competitive, with some tempting rates for borrowers in both the residential and BTL space.”

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf adds: “FTBs are dipping their toes in the water, encouraged by improving affordability, reduced competition for smaller properties from tax and regulation-hit BTL investors, some attractive mortgage deals and more stable employment prospects.

“There is much talk about Brexit but we find that it remains a largely London/southeast preoccupation among homebuyers. Elsewhere, affordability is just as important when it comes to buyers and sellers making home-moving decisions. Activity is likely to remain subdued before we leave the EU one way or the other and immediately afterwards, bearing in mind the post implementation period too.”

Phoebus Software sales and marketing director Richard Pike says: “The figures from UK Finance this morning show that people were taking the opportunity at the end of last year to get in before the effects of Brexit negotiations could really be felt.

“Now, of course, we come to the crux of negotiations, and into completely unknown territory. The one thing to bear in mind is that ours is not the only industry that will be affected by Brexit. It was always going to be a sticky time, the question now is will our government manage to come to an arrangement that, as Theresa May says, can ‘get the job done’.

“Until such time, I think many will be sitting tight rather than making any big financial decisions.”

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