Approvals improve in March

The number of house purchase approvals crept up in March to reach 48,901, figures from the Bank of England reveal.

Approvals in March are higher than the 46,882 approvals recorded for February but remain remain below the previous six-month average of 54,201.

Remortgage approvals also rose from 27,257 in February to 27,880 in March, and are also up compared to average over the last six months of 25,853.

Total net lending to individuals rose by £600m in March, while within this total net lending secured on dwellings increased by £300m.

Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, says: “More and more borrowers are starting to take action to protect themselves from possible interest rate rises and this is reflected in the increased number of remortgages.

“For those that can remortgage, that area of the market is certainly beginning to improve.”

But Murphy says that though the Bank may want to keep the base rate low it may not be able to hold off the rise in inflation.

He says: “Although loan approvals have risen, there may well be a slowdown in mortgage activity in the April and May data, as many prospective buyers are currently putting everything on hold until there is greater clarity around how the next parliament, hung or otherwise, will deal with the deficit.”