FTB enquiries continue to fall

Some 37% more surveyors reported a fall in new buyer en-quiries last month, providing further evidence of a shrinking first-time buyer market.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which published the findings last week, says the diminishing market has contributed to the falling house prices recorded across the UK.

Meanwhile, a Council of Mortgage Lenders report shows that residential mortgage numbers plummeted 19% to 50,300 in January from 62,000 in December and 75,800 in January 2007.

Michael Coogan, director-general of the CML, says: “The wholesale funding markets remain largely closed and funding is constrained.

“This is having a discernible impact on lending criteria and the ability of first-time buyers to get into the housing market.”

Last month sounded the death knell for 100%-plus LTV mortgages, which played a vital role helping first-time buyers onto the property ladder.

Meanwhile, a report published by Connells Survey and Valuation reveal-ed that its mortgage approvals for house purchases fell 3.5% to 71,400 in February from 74,000 in January.

The firm says its figures show that approvals have fallen 40.5% year-on-year, with February’s decline making it the 10th month in the past year to show a reduction in demand.

Ross Bowen, managing director of Connells Survey and Valuation, says: “Confidence among home buyers is more subdued.”

But on a more positive note, Hamptons Mortgages reports its house purchase loan completions increased last month.

Nevertheless, Jonathan Cornell, managing director of Hamptons Mortgages, says: “I’d imagine that next month we will see yet another decline in mortgages as a result of lenders tightening their criteria and leaving the 100% mortgage arena.”