Mortgage market still 'see-sawing'


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The Independent Online

The mortgage market has continued to “see-saw” this summer after new figures showed an 8% rise in lending between June and July.

Loans for home buyers and remortgages rose to £12.7 billion in July, its highest level since September, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), which was 2% higher than the same month a year ago.

But it said the overall market was "broadly flat", while lending figures in recent months "see-sawed" as a result of distortions caused by one-off events such as the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee.

It will not be until September that a clearer picture of the market emerges and, in the meantime, the CML said it was too early to say whether the recently launched £80 billion Funding for Lending scheme has encouraged banks to lend more to aspiring home owners.

CML market and data analyst Caroline Purdey said: "We look forward to the September figures when the distorting effects of the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics should largely have worked their way through."

But Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, warned that "any sustained recovery in the housing market is a long way off".

He added: "The focus on the Olympics, the continuing eurozone crisis and weak consumer confidence is likely to result in a slight drop-off in transactions over the next couple of months.

"However, the Funding for Lending scheme should deliver more competitive mortgage rates in coming weeks and these are already filtering through.

"It might be too early to call the end of the mortgage famine but there are certainly encouraging signs."

There have been a number of cheap five-year fixed-rate deals launched in recent weeks.

This has been seen as an encouraging response to the Treasury and Bank of England's lending scheme, which aims to boost the economy by unclogging the flow of credit to home owners and businesses.

Previously, many homeowners had been happy to stay on their lender's standard variable rates after mortgage deals expire, but there is now expected to be a surge in remortgaging amid the more competitive rates.

However, the deals have been criticised because they are mainly aimed at borrowers with large deposits, and there are fears the scheme will fail to boost lending to first time buyers who need affordable 95% loan-to-value mortgages, which is seen as the key to revitalising the market.

Ashley Brown, director of independent mortgage broker Moneysprite, said: "Those first-time buyers that are managing to buy are almost always being supported by their parents.

"Sooner or later the number of parents that can afford to stump up a lump sum is going to dwindle. When that happens expect loan numbers in this sub-sector to once again drop off a cliff."


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