Gross mortgage borrowing from the High Street banks is continuing on an upwards trend from January, when it was the highest since mid-2008. The number of mortgages approved for house purchases was 27% higher than a year earlier, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) said.
The BBA said that investors were keen to complete before tax changes as in just over a month’s time, at the start of April, most owners in England and Wales will pay a 3% surcharge on stamp duty on purchases of buy-to-let properties and second homes.
However, it appears that – although mortgage lending is rising – the number of property sales that have actually been completed, is yet to pick up significantly, with 105,940 homes sold last month, a similar total to October and November.
The new stamp duty surcharge is expected to raise £1bn extra for the Treasury by 2021, but landlords have argued it will “choke off” investment in rented properties. Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics, said that demand will continue to exceed supply in the property market, pushing up house prices as a result.
“Looking ahead, we expect approvals to remain on an upward trend. Consumer confidence is high, real income gains remain strong and mortgage rates are set to fall again in response to the decline in wholesale funding costs,” he said.
“New buyer enquiries at estate agents have been rising quickly and point to mortgage approvals rising by a further 5% over the next three months. With the active supply of homes on the market close to record lows, house prices look set for very strong gains.”