Let dust settle to see true lending trends

February’s lending figures showed the number of first-time buyers in the month had risen by 18% from February 2011, with the value of those mortgages up by 21%.

This was the seventh month of year-on-year rises in first-time buyer lending. But it was not the biggest – January saw a larger rise in both the number and value, following a year of falls during which numbers were distorted by the end of the previous Stamp Duty holiday in December 2010.

The extent to which the end of the recent Stamp Duty holiday has had an impact on the number of first-time buyers is difficult to gauge as we do not know how many would have bought in any case.

The number and value of loans by movers increased year-on-year for February, by 16% and 19%, and January’s rises were 19% and 16%.

Meanwhile, 51% of first-time buyers bought properties priced between £125,000 and £250,000 in February. This was up from 49% in January, but down from 53% in December – the highest since December 2009, when the figure for that price range was 58%.

In that month, 42% of first-time buyers had taken advantage of the previous concession to buy property between £125,000 and £175,000 that would have otherwise attracted Stamp Duty.

We release our data two months behind so when we release March’s first-time buyer figures next month, they should tell us if it has been a true increase or just the end of the Stamp Duty holiday affecting the timing of purchases.