New data from UK Finance - previously the Council of Mortgage Lenders - paints a relatively optimistic assessment of the UK-wide housing market.
Figures show that home buyers borrowed £6.1 billion for house purchase in the second quarter of this year, up 11 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 17 per cent year-on-year. They took out 18,000 loans, a six per cent rise on the first quarter of 2017 and eight per cent more than in the second quarter last year.
Meanwhile first-time buyers borrowed £3.1 billion in the second quarter, up 10 per cent on the previous three months and up eight per cent on the second quarter last year. This equated to 10,600 loans.
“With many buyers feeling the positive impact of multiple economic boons including strong mortgage lending conditions, high employment levels and relative job stability, a lot of people will be feeling empowered to move. However, given the very low transaction numbers in prime central London, these strong levels of activity are almost certainly emanating from the lower to mid-levels of the greater London regional property market” says Toby Whittome, London sales director at Jackson-Stops & Staff.
“If stamp duty levels weren’t causing so much harm in the £1m-plus market – focused in London – we would see this health and fluidity spread to the higher end too” he adds.
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and former RICS residential chairman, says: “On the face of it these figures are quite encouraging as although they are a little historic they cover the period leading up to the General Election. But they are disappointing in terms of the volume of lending done to first-time buyers, who are extremely important for the health of the housing market and we would have expected to see a greater number of them.”
He says first timers are probably more active outside the capital, where affordability pressures are less acute.