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UK Finance: FTB numbers up

The number of first-time buyer mortgages completed in July rose by 5.8% year-on-year to reach 32,640, UK Finance’s Mortgage Trends Update has revealed.

There were 32,710 homemover mortgages completed in July, 1.4% more than in the same month a year earlier.

Over the months were 20,760 new remortgages with additional borrowing in July, 7.1% fewer than in the same month in 2018. For these remortgages, the average additional amount borrowed in July was £55,500.

Steve Seal, managing director at Bluestone Mortgages, added: “Today’s statistics show that first-time buyers are once again leading the way in terms of completion numbers, as initiatives like the Help-to-Buy scheme help them get onto the property ladder.

“By contrast, July’s remortgage activity remained relatively consistent, but it’s clear that lenders are intensifying competition in the market by offering appealing deals to homeowners who would rather stay put than move in the current climate.”

In July there were 20,380 new pound-for-pound remortgages, 12.9% fewer year-on-year.

This has been driven in part by a fall in the number of fixed-rate mortgages coming to an end and the growing popularity of product transfers.

Adrian Moloney, sales director at OneSavings Bank, commented: “The boost in activity we saw last month continues into this month too.

“It’s a bit early to call this a trend with any meaning. As our current state of political limbo drags on, we’re seeing a number of buyers abandoning the wait-and-see approach.

“This has been helped by mortgage rates remaining as competitive as they have been for some time, alongside high employment and improved earnings.

“In this market, there are bargains to be had and it seems some are making the most of these now.

“However, the real problems that we face in the housing market will continue to exist long after Brexit is out of the way.

“Whichever way the wind blows, we need a robust plan to boost activity in the market and this has to start with increased house building.

“Only once we fix the inherent supply/demand issues will we see activity hit previous high levels again.”

There were 5,800 new buy-to-let home purchase mortgages completed in July, 5.5% more than this time last year.

In addition, there were 15,100 remortgages in the buy-to-let sector, 2% more than the same month in 2018.

Gareth Lewis, commercial director at MT Finance, said: “These figures are all up on last year apart from the remortgaging side of things and even that’s because more people are opting for product transfers because they are so easy to do.

“The great news is that first-time buyers continue to buy property as they stimulate the whole market and are a critical part of the housing market functioning normally.

“Many of those remortgaging are taking some equity out of their property which is not necessarily a bad thing as from our experience many are using this to fund improvements, extensions and renovations, rather than to pay down excessive debt that they have built up.

“Also, they are not over-stretching themselves on the loan-to-value, which is encouraging.

“Buy-to-let continues to be steady. Investors are still investing where they find opportunity to do so.”

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