Lending down in 2019

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Mortgage lending fell by 1.1% to £265.8bn in 2019, likely reflecting the political uncertainty the UK faced.

However 7.4% more mortgages were approved by the main high street banks in 2019 – including 8.0% more for home purchase.

Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at online mortgage broker Trussle, said: “It’s encouraging to see this uptick in mortgage approvals, particularly considering the scale of last year’s economic and political uncertainty, and the ongoing under-supply of available affordable properties.

“Following last month’s election people may begin to start having more confidence in the mortgage market. This, coupled with the strong foundation of mortgage lending in 2019, could provide a very solid base for the housing market over the next year.

“Mortgage deals are really competitive at the moment, and if the Bank of England cuts interest rates in the coming days – we could see even more would-be buyers choosing to act.”

Andrew Montlake, managing director of the UK-wide mortgage broker, Coreco, said: “In political terms, 2019 was arguably the most tumultuous year for decades, so for the mortgage market to have held its own was a significant feat in itself.

“Despite a climate of radical uncertainty, there’s no doubt that a lot of households wanted to get into new homes or onto new rates before a potentially disruptive election result.

“Lending volumes in 2019 were also supported by the exceptional rates being offered by the high street banks, who were fighting tooth and nail for market share.”

He went on to say that things are looking up for the market this year.

Montlake added: “We’re expecting an uplift in transactions in the first quarter of 2020 and there are already signs this is starting to show through.

“February will be a major test of consumer sentiment, as next week we will have formally exited the EU.

“How our formal departure from the EU impacts sentiment will be critical to the property and mortgage markets during 2020.

“It goes without saying that a huge amount is riding on the outcome of the trade negotiations and so there is still the potential for significant volatility.”