Property news: Gross lending steady across December

Stamp duty changes have boosted house hunting activity, estate agents said.
Stamp duty changes have boosted house hunting activity, estate agents said.
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The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that gross mortgage lending reached £16.5bn in December. This remained unchanged month-on-month compared to November but down 1 per cent compared to December 2013.

This means the gross lending estimate for the fourth quarter of 2014 is £51.6bn, down 8 per cent on quarter three but up 1 per cent on the fourth quarter of 2013. Overall, for 2014 the gross lending estimate is £205.6bn, up 17 per cent on 2013’s £176 billion gross lending figure.

The CML members are banks, building societies and other lenders who together undertake around 95 per cent of all residential mortgage lending in the UK. There are 11.1m mortgages in the UK, with loans worth over £1.3 trillion.

Commenting on market conditions, CML chief economist Bob Pannell observes: “Housing market activity has been cooling and house price growth slowing in recent months, but 2014 was still the strongest year for mortgage lending since 2008. First-time buyers were a key driver, helped by government initiatives such as Help to Buy. As a result, the number of first-time buyers topped the 300,000 mark. While a far cry from the half million that we might regard as ‘normal’, this was the highest number of first-time buyers since 2007.

“Although lending remained muted in December, the previous monthly pace of decline in approvals appeared to moderate. So, alongside the big picture of a softer market, we are beginning to detect signs that underlying market conditions may be stabilising.” Next month’s gross mortgage lending will be published on Thursday 19 February 2015.