Bank of England  

High value mortgages at highest level in two years

This could be due to the fact some landlords are looking to exit the market as tax and regulatory changes bite.

Of the 86 per cent of lending to owner occupiers, remortgaging accounted for 33.4 per cent, a slight increase year-on-year, while home purchases decreased marginally to 46.1 per cent, according to the stats.

First-time buyer numbers remained consistent compared with last year and accounted for 19.2 per cent of house purchases.

Other mortgages (including lifetime mortgages) accounted for 6.6 per cent of new lending and David Burrowes, chairman of the Equity Release Council, said the data showed lifetime mortgages had made their biggest contribution to mortgage market activity since records began.

He said: "The equity release sector has grown in recent years because it meets a wide range of social and consumer needs among the UK’s ageing population.

"Equity release is also underpinned by robust industry standards to ensure a safe and reliable market for consumers, who are guaranteed levels of protection."

The BoE stats showed the proportion of total loans in arrears continued to decrease, dropping to less than 1 per cent and sitting at the lowest level since the series began in 2007 Q1.

Mr Pilling said: "It is good news that arrears remain historically low – and in fact are continuing to fall — but these statistics do not necessarily mean that people are no longer experiencing financial difficulties. 

"In fact, it is more a sign that lenders are doing all they can to help borrowers who are struggling to avoid arrears and repossessions."

imogen.tew@ft.com

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