Mortgage approvals end 2015 on a strong footing, bank data shows

Approvals for home purchases in the UK increased towards the end of 2015 with December being a strong month, according to the latest figures from the Bank of England.

The number of loan approvals for buying in December was 70,837 compared to an average of 69,462 over the previous six months while the number of approvals for remortgaging was 41,708, compared to the average of 39,540 over the previous six months
But the next few months are likely to be very different, according to David Whittaker, managing director of Mortgages for Business. ‘The next wave of activity will be powered by landlords scrambling to complete transactions before they are hit with extra taxes. This is only just beginning,’ he said.
‘With 01 April marking the point at which Stamp Duty on buy to let properties bites, many investors have been rushing to get their mortgages completed and expand their portfolios before this date,’ he pointed out.

‘Expect this flurry of activity to continue into the first few months of 2016, as investors rush to apply for their buy to let mortgages and lenders do everything in their power to get the good applications completed before the April crunch point,’ he added.
Peter Williams, executive director of Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, pointed out that December was the busiest month for remortgaging in over two years, with activity growing more than twice as fast as overall approvals.
‘The continued appetite for remortgaging was likely to be a sign of home owners eager to capitalise on market competition and lock into lower rates, especially with US raising interest rates for the time in nine years and expectations the UK would follow suit in the not too distant future,’ he explained.

After the Autumn Statement extensions to Help to Buy, and the rock bottom base rate lasting out the year, first time buyers were feeling decisive, and this was mirrored by a clear upswing in house purchase approvals from November to December, according to Peter Rollings, chief executive officer of Marsh & Parsons.

‘This energy has definitely been carried over into 2016, and January has already seen an impressive influx of motivated buyers, eager to progress up the property ladder,’ he explained, adding that 2015 was also the year of remortgaging for many existing home owners and this momentum is showing no signs of dissipating while cheaper fixed rate mortgages remain available.

‘But in the coming months we can expect strong buy to let lending, as the April introduction of higher stamp duty for second homes gives a new sense of urgency for those looking to invest in property or expand their existing portfolio,’ he added.