First-time buyer numbers up nearly 5% in January: UK Finance

UK Finance figures for January show that the number of loans completed for first-time buyers grew by 4.6 per cent on an annual basis.

In total, there were 25,100 new loans for FTBs in the first month of this year at £4.2bn in value compared to 24,000 at £3.9bn in January 2018.

New loans extended to homemovers also grew in both number and value, with 25,300 totalling £5.6bn in value recorded in January 2019 compared to 24,600 worth £5.3bn the year before.

In terms of homeowner remortgaging activity, there were 47,400 new loans in January 2019, down from 48,700 in January 2018. However, the value for both months was £8.7bn.

In the buy-to-let sector, house purchases dropped from 5,600 in January 2018 to 5,500, and remortgages also fell – from 16,500 a year ago to 15,800 in January 2019.

This equates to £800m of BTL house purchase loans extended in January 2018 compared to £700m in January 2019 and £2.6bn for remortgages in 2018 to £2.5bn this year.

Responsible Lending managing director Keith Haggart says: “A bruising few years for BTL seems to be levelling off but it is still FTBs who are stealing the show.

“It helps to think long term and this segment of the market can do that like no other.”

Masthaven managing director of mortgages Matt Andrews adds: “The slight softening in remortgaging figures for [the BTL] sector suggests landlords remain committed to the market.

“Greater product innovations, alongside a range of housing tenure that meets consumer needs, would certainly be welcomed so the sector can reach its full potential.”

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf comments: “The continuing trend shown in these figures of FTBs taking the place of investors at the vital lower-priced end of the market is very welcome and confirms what we have seen on the ground lately.

“Further confirmation of resilience among homeowners who are getting on with buying is also encouraging. However, this report, like others, highlights once again the missed opportunity of building on modest gains that the chancellor failed to take in his spring statement, particularly while the Brexit fog remains.

“The market is crying out for additional help at the bottom and encouragement of transactions throughout, as well as more help for tenants which would improve the balance between supply and demand in the medium and longer term.”

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