Mortgage numbers fall again

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The Independent Online

The number of mortgages approved for people buying a home fell back during June as housing market activity remained subdued, figures showed today.

A total of 34,813 loans were approved for house purchase during the month, down from 36,418 in May and the lowest level since February, when the market was hit by a combination of bad weather and the end of the stamp duty holiday.

Net mortgage lending, which strips out redemptions and repayments, was also down on the previous month at £2.1 billion, compared with £2.5 billion in May, according to the British Bankers' Association.

The figures are disappointing after data released earlier this month suggested the housing market may be benefiting from its traditional summer bounce.

HM Revenue & Customs figures showed that the number of homes changing hands jumped by more than 20 per cent during June, with 86,000 transactions taking place.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) also said total mortgage advances had increased by 15 per cent, to reach a six-month high of £13.1 billion.

But today's lending figures are in line with gloomier data on the market, which has shown that demand from potential buyers is failing to keep up with the number of homes being put up for sale, contributing to Halifax reporting house price falls for the third consecutive month during June.

Economists now generally expect house prices to be either flat for the rest of the year, or to lose the gains they made during the first half.

David Dooks, British Bankers' Association (BBA) statistics director, said: "The abolition of HIPs and a reported increase in the number of house sellers is expected to encourage activity in the market, though this may be tempered by households' uncertainty over job prospects and the impact of fiscal tightening."

Unsecured lending was also subdued during June as consumers continued to focus on repaying their debts.

Credit card borrowing rose by £120 million, but repayments continued to outstrip new spending, so the rise was caused by interest and charges being added to existing debt.

Lending through loans and overdrafts contracted by £314 million, the 14th consecutive month during which consumers have repaid more than they borrowed.

The group said unsecured lending had contracted by 2.7 per cent during the year to the end of June.

Savings levels picked up slightly in June, after falling sharply in May and being negative in April.

Deposits held by consumers rose by £1.65 billion during the month, up from £856 million in May, but down on the previous six-month average of £2.7 billion.

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