House purchase approvals rose 12% in February

The number of house purchase approvals grew by 12% in February to 35,000, data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders reveals.

The trade body says January was a weak month due to one-off factors including the end of the Stamp Duty holiday in December and severe weather.

The 35,000 loans advanced signifies a modest recovery, although the number was up by 49% in volume and 67% in value compared with a year earlier.

Remortgage approvals grew by 2% to reach 24,000 but this was still 35% down on the number of remortgage loans advanced last year.
There were 12,600 first-time buyer loans worth £1.5bn advanced in February with an average LTV of 75%.

Bob Pannell, head of research at the CML, says: “The Stamp Duty exemption could boost the market somewhat and we hope to see the traditional seasonal pick-up as the weather becomes warmer.”

Countrywide, the UK’s largest mortgage broker and property services group, reported last week that it saw mortgage applications grow 20% in March to a level not seen since February 2008.

March was the third consecutive month of mortgage application rises, with Q1 2010 volumes 9% up on the same period in 2009 based on activity at Countrywide Mortgage Services and its network of 700 mortgage consultants.

The overall volume of mortgage products increased by 8% in March compared with the previous month – a 112% increase since March 2009.