Both first-time buyer numbers and house purchases by landlords fell in March, compared to the same month last year, according to UK Finance.
There were 28,800 first-time buyer mortgages completed in March 2019, 2.4 per cent fewer than in the same month in 2018. The drop is the first year-on-year decrease since September 2018.
UK Finance’s Mortgage Trends Update for March 2019 also showed there were 25,280 homemover mortgages completed in March, 6 per cent fewer year-on-year.
There were 16,810 remortgages with additional borrowing in March 2019, 9.1 per cent more than in the same month in 2018. For these remortgages, the average amount taken out in March was £55,700.
Additionally, 15,030 were simple pound-for-pound remortgages (with no additional borrowing), 1.1 per cent fewer than in March 2018.
In total, there were 4.1 per cent more residential remortgages in March 2019 than in the same month a year earlier. This is the twelfth consecutive month of year-on-year growth in remortgaging, as a number of fixed rate deals come to an end and borrowers continue to lock into attractive rates.
The figures also show a drop in buy-to-let house purchase activity. There were 5,000 buy-to-let home purchase mortgages completed in March 2019, 9.1 per cent fewer than in the same month in 2018. There were 14,400 remortgages in the buy-to-let sector, 3.9 per cent more than in the same period last year, with buy-to-let remortgaging increasing year-on year for the second month in a row.
SPF Private Clients chief executive Mark Harris says: “The decrease in number of first-time buyers after continuous growth over the past six months is a concern, and let’s hope it is just a blip in the numbers. First-time buyers are so important for the overall health of the housing market, ensuring transactions further up the chain can happen.
“Remortgaging goes from strength to strength as borrowers come to the end of fixed-rate deals and quickly hop over onto another competitive rate. There is so much uncertainty out there, and mortgage rates are so cheap, why wouldn’t you?
“Buy-to-let remortgaging is also strong as landlords make the most of their portfolios and ensure they maximise as much profit as possible. The number of landlords adding to their portfolios, or investing for the first time, has inevitably fallen again due to the tough tax and regulatory changes which have hit the sector.”
Bluestone Mortgages director of sales and marketing Steve Seal says: “Homeowners are continuing to make the most on offer by way of government initiatives and attractive mortgage deals. This is keeping up remortgage activity in the market despite the ongoing economic uncertainty.”