The housing market boom looks set to continue for some months yet as mortgage approvals for home purchases hit their highest level for 13 years.
The latest Money & Credit report from the Bank of England shows approvals are now 10 times the level seen during lockdown, and at their highest since September 2007.
Approvals for home purchase hit 91,500 in September, prompting optimistic comments from agents and other industry figures.
“Those expecting a correction in house prices or activity will be disappointed by these figures which are always a good indication of direction of travel” says Jeremy Leaf, the north London estate agent who is also a former RICS residential chairman.
“Unless buyers suddenly change course and cancel mortgage offers, most of these are likely to turn into transactions. Once again the market is proving its resilience despite growing uncertainties over additional [Coronavirus] restrictions and worsening economic news” he adds.
Tomer Aboody, director of MT Finance, says it’s directly because of high volumes of mortgage approvals that property prices are on the rise too.
“The feeling and concern is that buyers are feeding into an artificially strong market, which has been driven by historically low mortgage rates and a rush to complete transactions before the end of the stamp duty holiday in March” is his take.
Although there is much comment on the industry’s desire to see an extended stamp duty holiday, there are other ways to keep demand buoyant according to John Philips, national operations director at Just Mortgages and Spicerhaart.
“To keep the market cooking, now is the time for lenders to loosen their criteria, particularly for higher loan to value mortgages to allow first-time buyers to access the market. We are still seeing thousands of eligible borrowers being turned away as, despite stable income and proof they can pay credit reliably, they don’t have the 15 per cent deposit required to purchase their own home” he claims.
The Bank of England figures come on top of data from Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Halifax; between July and September it processed its highest number of home loans since 2008 as new mortgage lending increased by £3.5 billion.