Gross mortgage lending across the residential market in the UK fell in January 2019 to £21.6 billion, some 1.5% lower than the same month in the previous year, industry figures show.
The number of mortgages approved by the main High Street banks was 0.3% higher than in January 2018, according to the data published by UK Finance.
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It also shows that remortgage approvals were 3.1% down, a change from several months of strong growth in remortgaging earlier in 2018.
It is suggested by UK Finance that this was due to customers taking advantage of a competitive mortgage market to lock into attractive deals but specialist lenders have various views on what is happening.
However, John Goodall, chief executive officer of Landbay, believes that the dip in lending is unquestionably linked to home owners and landlords putting off the decision to put their property on the market.
‘This wait and see approach, entirely understandable in the current economic climate, is exacerbating the chronic undersupply of available housing. The current stalemate means that it falls to landlords, both private and institutional, to pick up the pieces and provide quality housing for those who would be buyers in more normal economic conditions,’ he said.
Dilpreet Bhagrath, mortgage expert at Trussle, also thinks that there is a wait and see attitude due to Brexit chaos, but she also believes that the ongoing shortage of available homes is limiting options for buyers in some areas.
‘But there are some good deals to be had particularly for first time buyers who are ready to move quickly. Those who do find their dream home might want to consider a fixed-rate mortgage if they want to know exactly how much they’ll be paying each month, avoiding instability and providing extra piece of mind,’ she added.
The figures for January are probably more encouraging than they might have been, according to Richard Pike, sales and marketing director at Phoebus Software. ‘Unfortunately, there is nothing going on in Westminster or in Europe that is helping to alleviate the situation, and neither will it for some time,’ he explained.
‘However, there is a resilience that shows there are still people that want, and need, to buy and nothing in the political arena will change that. The next few months will be telling, we could be looking at an even less rosy picture in a couple of months’ time, or we will see that despite uncertainty people carried on regardless,’ he added.