Buy to let lending grew in 2015 at expense of first time buyers

The rapid growth of the buy to let market in the UK during 2015 was at the expense of first time buyers despite Government initiatives to encourage home ownership, new research has found.

The proportion of buy to let mortgage enquiries grew by 4.4% to 18.2% during 2015 compared with 2014, whereas the proportion of enquiries for first time buyers fell by 3.7% to 23.5%.

According to price comparison website comparethemarket.com the inverse correlation indicates that the buy to let market has gained a chokehold over first time buyers, as many struggle to get out of rented accommodation and on to the housing ladder.

January showed no signs of a reducing market, as the first month in 2016 showed year on year growth of over 16% and 62% increase compared to December, reinforcing the sentiment that the current buy to let market may be unsustainable.

Evidence indicates that if the market continues in its current direction, the number of enquiries for buy to let mortgages will outstrip the number for first time buyer enquiries, which would be a blow to the Government’s home ownership drive.

Overall the buy to let market saw growth during of over 23% in enquiries on the website in 2015 and the initial cut on tax relief also did little to reduce the swelling of the buy to let market as enquiries rose by 14% in the three months after the announcement made by the Chancellor at the Summer Budget, compared to the three months before.

However, with the new stamp duty on buy-to-let properties, announced at the Autumn Statement, coming into effect this spring, many expect the market will finally dampen.

Elsewhere, January proved to be a particularly buoyant month for the mortgage market as the number of enquiries rose by more than 8% compared to 2015. It seems that January is the time that consumers get their respective houses in order with a recent study by comparethemarket.com finding that 44% of consumers used the month to ‘sort out’ their finances.

‘The buy to let market has been subject to both extensive discussion and criticism over the past year with even the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee labelling it a risk to the UK’s financial stability,’ said Jody Baker, head of money for comparethemarket.

‘This data only reinforces the view that over the past year, families and others looking to get a foot on the housing ladder are being priced out by landlords. It was great to see the Government take action in the Autumn Statement but time will tell as to what the material impact will be on the market after 01 April,’ Baker added.