Mortgage lending in UK increased by 4.7% year on year in December

Gross mortgage lending across the residential market in the UK was 4.7% higher in December 2018 than in the same month in the previous year, new figures show.

It reached £21.1 billion in December and during 2018 as a whole it was £267.5 billion, some 3.8% higher than in 2017, according to the date from industry group UK Finance.

However, lending from the High Street banks has fallen, with the number of mortgages approved 2.4% lower in December than the same month the previous year.

A breakdown of the figures show that approvals for home purchase were 5.3% higher, remortgage approvals were 5.8% lower and approvals for other secured borrowing were 18.9% lower.

‘Mortgage lending grew in December compared to the previous year, with borrowers defying seasonal trends and purchasing a property throughout the festive period,’ said Eric Leenders, managing director of personal finance at UK Finance.

The fall in mortgage approvals was widely expected, particularly given the time of year and with the addition of political uncertainty still hanging over the market, according to Alastair McKee, managing director of One77 Mortgages.

‘Previous to this drop, we’ve seen mortgage approvals start to build over consecutive months at the back end of 2018 which is a clear indicator of growing buyer momentum,’ he said.

He also pointed out that the overall positive increase in market activity has been noticed at ground level with a strong uplift in buyer enquiries and commitment to products across the board, which has been lacking in previous months.

‘However, while this initial spark may be enough to start the engines, it can’t fuel the UK property powerhouse in the long term unless it converts to completed sales. With many sellers refraining from the reality of current market conditions in terms of asking price, it could be a few months yet until any notable indicators of market stability filter through,’ he added.

Mike Scott, chief property analyst at online estate agent Yopa, believes that the figures signal that the housing market could get off to a good start in 2019, citing the 5.3% rise in mortgage approvals as ‘a significant increase’.

‘This should mean that the housing market gets off to a strong start in 2019 as those mortgage approvals progress and turn into actual house purchases,’ he said.