According to the most recent data released by CML, the number of loans advanced for house purchases in January slipped to its lowest monthly total since February 2015.
Remortgaging activity however continued to increase- rising by 54% by value and 46% by volume in December. In addition, home buyers borrowed £8.4bn in January, down 28% on December but unchanged year-on-year.
In terms of buy-to-let, there were increases, with values up by 11% and volume by 12% In comparison to 2016 however, both the number of loans and amount borrowed fell by 16%.
On a seasonally-adjusted scale, month-and-month changes in first-time buyer and home mover activity was marginal. First-time buyer lending increased 2% by value with the number of loans dropping by 2% in comparison to December.
Paul Smee, Director General of the CML, commented: ‘January gives the impression of a flattish market overall, albeit one with a resurgent remortgage sector. We expect a seasonal dip in activity in the winter months and this appears to be the case in January. However, the lull in moving activity appears stubbornly persistent and we have commissioned research on the reasons why the number of transactions seems in secular decline.’
‘Buy-to-let house purchase activity continues to be weak, despite strong buy-to-let remortgage levels. This will likely remain so going forward as lenders tighten affordability criteria ahead of the PRA mandated stress tests and the introduction of tax changes in April,’ he continued.
Purchase activity at lowest level since February 2015
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and former residential chairman of RICS, said: ‘While there is little change month-on-month, the figures are encouraging because they demonstrate market resilience – which is what we are seeing at the coalface. Encouragingly, we have noticed a bit of a pick-up in activity over the past few weeks as buyers and sellers seem to be getting on with it as they usually do at this time of year.’
‘Listings are improving but property must still be very compelling in terms of price, location and presentation – or all three – in order to gain attention from increasingly discerning buyers,’ he added.