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UK Finance: Quarterly lending at 13-year high

House purchase lending in Q4 2020 reached its highest quarterly level since 2007, UK Finance’s household finance review has found.

With buy-to-let Q4 2020 saw the highest purchase activity since Q1 2016.

In December lending levels were 31% higher than the same month a year earlier.

Eric Leenders, managing director, personal finance at UK Finance, said: “Homebuyers looking to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday were behind the housing market’s strongest quarter for purchases in 13 years, in the final quarter of 2020.

“The stamp duty holiday helped to boost activity at the end of 2020, and it is likely many of these purchases have been brought forward in order to take advantage of the savings.

“The Chancellor’s announcement in the Budget to extend the Stamp Duty holiday until the end of June before then phasing it out will prevent a cliff edge, reducing the risk of house sales collapsing and will prove beneficial for all parties involved in the housing market.”

Despite the strong end of the year, annual purchases for the whole year were around a tenth lower than the previous year, due to a complete shutdown of the market in the first lockdown.

Richard Pike, Phoebus Software sales and marketing director, said: “The housing market, like many things, is more than the sum of its parts and, with the overall picture painted by these figures from UK Finance, it is evident that the number of mortgage approvals is only part of the story.

“The stamp duty holiday obviously did as it was intended, stimulating the market in difficult circumstances. It has also created increased demand in a market where there isn’t enough property to meet that demand, which in turn is pushing prices up across the country.

“With many transactions in the pipeline the extension to the SDLT holiday, announced in the Budget yesterday, will go some way to ensuring that more of these complete before the new deadline.”