Remortgaging strong amid drop in overall lending

Remortgaging strong amid drop in overall lending

Remortgaging helped to buoy the market in September amid a decline in overall lending, according to UK Finance.

The non-seasonally adjusted data show the number of loans to remortgaging homeowners was up 13.2 per cent year-on-year during the month to 35,900, while buy-to-let remortgaging climbed 6.1 per cent to 12,200.

Loans to home movers rose by 2.9 per cent year-on-year to 32,200, while first-time buyer loans dropped 1 per cent and buy-to-let loans declined by 3 per cent.

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But there were significant declines across all categories on a monthly basis, with home movers seeing the largest fall in lending – a 16.6 per cent drop in the number of loans.

Buy-to-let lending fell 8.8 per cent by volume compared to August, while the number of first-time buyer loans declined by 9.9 per cent.

The figures came amid heightened expectations that the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) would increase the base rate of interest from its historic low of 0.25 per cent, pushing up the cost of borrowing.

Lenders had already begun to raise their interest rates before the MPC’s announcement on 2 November that the base rate would rise to 0.5 per cent.

UK Finances head of mortgage policy June Deasy said: “Although lending slackened in September, it remained higher than a year ago. Remortgaging was particularly strong, with borrowers seeking to lock into historically low interest rates in advance of the widely anticipated rise in Bank base rate at the beginning of November.  

“Over the last year, the number of loans for remortgaging has been higher than in any period since 2009.”

The decision to raise interest rates led to fears of a further hit to buy-to-let landlords, who have already had to deal with cuts to tax relief, a hike in stamp duty and tighter regulations.

Lea Karassavas, managing director of London-based Prolific Mortgage Finance, commented: “Both homeowners and landlords took the early hints from Mark Carney, so September represents the tail end of the rush to remortgage on low rates while they lasted. 
“However, owner-occupiers and landlords are not on the same page. Homeowners have been grabbing low rates while they can, while the response from landlords has been far more muted. 
“This demonstrates a sustained shift as many turn their backs on the market. Landlords are waving the white flag after a severe tax bashing from the Treasury over the last two years. 
“This is a statement of intent. Being a landlord is not a hobby, it’s an investment that must pay or it’s simply not worth it.”