Latest Bank of England figures show that mortgage approvals in September remained almost level at 47,474 compared with August. Net lending in the same period dropped.
Having predicted at the end of September that the figure would stand at 48,245 loans, our statistical wizards should be feeling reasonably smug to be within 1.6% of the actual figure.
The prediction was based on our view of mortgage valuation activity in the period.
But the numbers confirm what most understand – that we have a lending market which is still constrained, without even the hint of a post-summer uplift.
So 2011 is looking to be one of mixed fortunes for lenders.With retail deposits running at around £30bn per year and lenders required to repay the government to the tune of £300bn,they will struggle to increase lending despite the appetite to do so.
Some lenders are planning for growth in 2011, particularly those without government debt to service, but also perhaps those that are not reliant on the economy and banking environment.
I would not bet that lenders boosting lending will offset the contraction elsewhere. Reduced mortgage availability drives house prices, which is likely to be under pressure for the next six months, with gentle falls a possibility.
The name of the game is ensuring your business is around to take advantage of the upswings, when they do arrive. And they will – that’s a cast iron prediction.