Loans to first time buyers up 38 per cent

Fixed rate mortgages overwhelmingly popular
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Although the total number of loans to first-time buyers in January was down 18 per cent on December 2013, the Council of Mortgage Lenders' latest figures represent an increase of 38 per cent compared to January 2013.

The report also shows that more than 95 per cent of first time buyers opted for fixed rate mortgages in January.

Similarly, loans to other movers buying a home also fell compared to December 2013 figures (down 15 per cent) but rose compared to January 2013 (up 25 per cent).

Paul Smee, director general of the CML, said: "January is always a subdued month in the mortgage market but the underlying trend and strong year-on-year growth across all borrower groups indicates a strong start to 2014 continuing the sort of lending levels seen throughout 2013.

"Lending to first-time buyers and home movers has continued its upward trend and this, coupled with the growth in remortgage and buy-to-let activity, would suggest that all parts of the market are open for business."

Simon Crone, Vice President Mortgage Insurance Europe for Genworth, said: "There is no mistaking the impact of Help to Buy 2 in today’s lending figures. The fact that the average first time buyer deposit fell from 20 pe rcent to 18 per cent between December and January shows we have started out on the path to a more accessible mortgage market where the goal of owning your first property is no longer restricted to a privileged few. These signs will bring welcome relief to first time buyers after years of despair.

"We must ensure these improving conditions don’t disappear overnight when Help to Buy 2 eventually ends. The government must act now to set out the way forward so we don’t leave another generation locked out of the housing market."

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: "'With the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review just over a month away, there are fears that there will be a slowdown in lending as lenders get to grips with the new requirements. Processing times for mortgage applications are likely to increase as a more forensic approach to expenditure is adopted but it should result in a more sustainable mortgage market that works better for consumers and lenders."

George Spencer, chief executive officer of lettings company Rentify, added: "While residential lending was affected by a seasonal dip, with January a subdued month compared with December, this wasn't the case with the buy-to-let sector. Quite simply, buy-to-let goes from strength to strength. Both the number of loans for new purchase and remortgaging increased in January, as landlords took advantage of cheap mortgage rates and poor returns on savings to get into buy-to-let for the first time or expand their portfolios."