Buy-to-let lending falls to eight-year low

The number of buy-to-let loans advanced during 2009 has dropped to its lowest level since 2001, figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders reveal.

There were 93,500 buy-to-let loans for 2009 as a whole, down 58% on the 222,700 buy-to-let mortgages advanced in 2008.

Buy-to-let lending represented only 5.9% of all lending in 2009, compared to 10.7% in 2008.

The total value of outstanding buy-to-let loans accounted for around 11.8% of the mortgage market.

Gross buy-to-let lending was £8.5bn, down from £27.2bn in 2008.

But the figures from the CML also show that buy-to-let lending seemed to pick up towards the end of last year, albeit from a low base.

New buy-to-let lending increased for the second consecutive quarter in the last three months of 2009, with 25,800 new loans advanced in Q4.

This is up from 23,700 in Q3 but down from 38,000 from Q4 2008.

Between October and December gross advances totalled £2.4bn, an increase of £300m from the previous three months but down £1.6bn from the same period in 2008.

All types of buy-to-let lending increased in the last three months of 2009.

For 2009 as a whole, 60% of buy-to-let lending was for house purchase, compared to just 46% in 2008, which the CML attributes to an ongoing demand among investors to increase their portfolios if finance is available. 

“We are concerned that future, wrongly directed, regulation may actually prevent buy-to-let playing its vital role in providing good quality homes.”

Michael Coogan, director-general at the CML

Buy-to-let arrears have improved from the levels seen in Q4 2008, going from 32,900 to 20,700 in Q4 2009.

Overall in 2009 there were 5,700 possessions, equating to 0.46% of the total book, and on a level with the 0.42% annual possession rate recorded for the wider mortgage market.

Michael Coogan, director-general at the CML, says: “The figures show that the buy-to-let market continued to improve, albeit slowly, throughout 2009, and we are encouraged by this recovery.

“The new business market remains well below previous levels though, and below the level of activity which is needed to enhance a vibrant private rental sector in the UK. 

“We are concerned that future, wrongly directed, regulation may actually prevent buy-to-let playing its vital role in providing good quality homes and wider housing choices for people who cannot afford home ownership or do not qualify for social housing.”