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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Spike in mortgage applications may create a Happy New Year for agents

Analysts are putting a surprise surge in mortgage approvals from banks down to a spike in applications ahead of the General Election - and the applications are likely to prompt a similar and welcome rise in completions early this year, 2020.

Figures from UK Finance issued just before the New Year show that in November there was a near three year high in the number of loans granted by banks. 

There were 43,715 mortgage approvals in November, up from 41,312 in October and the highest total since January 2017.

On an annual basis, mortgage approvals in November were 6.8 per cent higher than a year earlier, while remortgage approvals were 12.7 per cent higher.

This contrasted sharply with earlier figures - approvals had previously fallen back over the preceding three months to hit a seven-month low in October.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: “Mortgage approvals are generally an interesting take on the recent past as well as useful lead indicator of the direction of travel for the property market. But the  willingness of homemovers to take on more debt demonstrates resilience once again, as well as an enthusiasm to take advantage of improving affordability, despite significant political and seasonal distractions. 

“Looking forward, we don’t expect house prices to rise substantially but larger movements are likely to be seen in areas where the ratio of house prices to earnings is low.”

And the chief economic advisor to the EY Item Club, Howard Archer, says the key message from the figures is that buyers had been worried about an inconclusive outcome to the election.

“November’s jump in mortgage approvals was all the more surprising as the expectation had been that housing market activity would be hampered by heightened political uncertainties. This was certainly indicated by November surveys, notably from the RICS.

“Indeed, the housing market had clearly been pressurised over the previous three months by a potent cocktail of Brexit, economic and domestic political uncertainties. It is also notable that while consumers have benefited from markedly improved earnings growth and rising employment over much of 2019, these fundamentals reached a peak around June [and] July in terms of employment and earnings growth.”

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