Mortgage lending dips in August but buy-to-let remains buoyant

English homes for sale

Mortgage lending dipped by almost 9.3% in August 2015 compared to a month earlier, according to the latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). It said the lower figure was due to a normal seasonal trend, with August being a traditionally weak month for mortgage lending.

However, year-on-year more cash was lent to first-time buyers, home movers, homeowners remortgaging and buy to let investors, with gross lending up 10.7% on August 2014.

Bob Pannell, chief economist of the CML, explained: “Seasonal factors pushed all categories of lending lower in August compared to July. However, the mortgage market continues to see year-on-year growth, and we expect this to continue over the coming months.”

The CML research shows that there were £7.1 billion worth of mortgages advanced to home movers in August – 7% down on the previous month but 8% up on August 2014. There were also £4.2 billion worth of remortgages – down 7% month-on-month but up 8% on August 2014.

Meanwhile, first-time buyers accounted for £4.2 billion worth of mortgages –down 11% on July but up 5% year on year.

Buy-to-let lending

By far the strongest area of growth was in the buy-to-let market, which saw £1.9 billion worth of remortgage lending – down 14% on the July figure but up by 73% on August 2014.

Buy-to-let house purchases also performed strongly over the year, accounting for £1.4 billion of mortgage lending and up 40% on last year’s figures (though down 13% from July 2015).

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, commented: “Fixed rates on buy-to-let mortgages have moved below 2% for the first time – a phenomenally low rate which will be attractive to landlords keen to keep costs down since the changes to mortgage interest tax relief announced in the Summer Budget.

“Buy-to-let lending saw considerable year-on-year increases and the attraction of the sector is undiminished, even if landlords may think twice in the future before investing to ensure the numbers add up.”

Harris was also optimistic about mortgage lending for September: “Excellent mortgage rates continue to attract buyers and those remortgaging as lenders remain keen to do business in order to meet their targets,” he added.