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Mortgage market subdued after summer highs

Remortgage levels have steadied after a period of strong summer growth as activity across the mortgage market softened, according to trade body figures.

UK Finance found 35,600 homeowner remortgages and 12,300 buy-to-let remortgages were completed in September – down 0.6 percentage points and 0.8 percentage points respectively on the same month a year earlier.

Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said the figures showed remortgaging for residential and buy-to-let properties had levelled out after a period of strong growth, reflecting the number of fixed rate loans reaching maturity.

Meanwhile purchase activity across the residential market fell in September, with 29,400 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in the month – from 35,400 in August and 30,800 in September 2017.

New homemover mortgages also fell to 29,400, down from 38,000 the month before and 32,100 in the same month a year earlier.

Ms Bennett said: “Demand for house purchases for both first-time buyers and homemovers has also lessened, as affordability constraints continue to bear down on consumer demand for new loans particularly in London and the south east.”

The buy-to-let purchase market also softened in September with 5,200 new mortgages completed in the month, 18.8 percentage points fewer than in the same month a year earlier.

Ms Bennett suggested the lending in the buy-to-let market remained subdued as a result of recent tax, regulatory and legislative changes.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said the mortgage market was inevitably subdued as people delayed decision-making while political and economic uncertainty continued.

He said: “This is likely to continue into the spring, until we pass the Brexit deadline in March, by which point some of that pent-up demand may be released and the market could well pick up.”

Mr Harris added: “UK Finance figures do not appear to take into account product transfers, which will have a significant impact on remortgage numbers.

“This market is much larger today than 12 months ago as borrowers opt for the simpler process of sticking with the same lender and moving onto another rate, rather than starting a new application with another lender.”

Source: FT Adviser