Countrywide applications dropped in April, wiping out March advance

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Mortgage applications at Country-wide fell 18% in April, largely cancelling out gains seen in March when applications rose 20%.

Countrywide says the slowdown in applications was typical for April, and blames public holidays and school breaks for the drop.

The group says this was made worse by travel disruption and the lead-up to the general election.

Based on data from more than 700 mortgage consultants, applications grew 6% on a year-on-year basis.

The average interest rate among Countrywide’s top mortgage applications fell by 0.08% from March to 4.57%. The average deposit was 20% – 1% less than in March.

Some 60% of Country-wide customers opted for fixed rate deals in April compared with 61% the previous month.

Grenville Turner, group chief executive of Countrywide, says: “April is traditionally a quiet month, with school breaks and bank holidays affecting activity. What we have experienced has followed the typical pattern of recent years.

“But the contrast between applications in March and April shows how fragile this recovery could be.”

He adds: “That said, in April we saw one of our best weeks for mortgage appointments in 2010, suggesting a rise in buyer interest in May and June.”

Meanwhile, research from Defaqto last week shows that while the number of mortgage products available has increased to 2,948 from 1,686 in July 2009, more than a quarter of the deals available are restricted to lenders’ existing customers.

Currently, 282 mortgages are restricted to lenders’ existing borrowers, 444 to current account holders, 25 to existing members and five to existing savers.

In total, there are now 757 restricted mortgages out of the 2,948 deals on the market.

Figures from Mortgage Brain show the number of products available to brokers stayed relatively flat in April, with a gain of just 88 over the month. The number of deals for brokers on Mortgage Brain’s sourcing system rose from 4,665 to 4,753.