Research from chartered surveyor e.surv has shown that mortgage approvals reached a peak of 66,390 in December of last year, which amounts to a 7.8% annual increase. This seasonal rise has led to claims that there is a pre-Brexit rush to purchase property, and that the political uncertainty arising from the imminent break with Europe is actually fuelling current demand in the property market.
Commenting on the figures, Richard Pike, sales and marketing director for Phoebus Software, said:
“It is hard to talk about anything at the moment without mentioning the ‘Brexit’ word: it is all-consuming and there is little doubt that it continues to affect the housing market.
“The fact that house purchase approvals were up in December suggests that people are planning ahead and making their move before the March deadline. Interestingly the number of remortgage approvals took a dip compared to the same month in 2017, which bucks the trend throughout the rest of the year.
“Nonetheless, I would expect it to be the remortgage sector that will be keeping the mortgage market going in the coming months, as we wait to see how our exit from the EU pans out.”
Throughout the year, the types of mortgages being approved also reflected the influx of first-time buyers in the property market, with mortgage products offering loans at 95% of a property’s value increasing in popularity.
Data showed that over a quarter of mortgages approved in December were taken out by borrowers with a small deposit (less than 20%), and this was also the case in November. A key step-change in property has been the introduction of government schemes in order to alleviate the headache of saving for a deposit, and these statistics show that this is having some success in the marketplace.
Tony Sutton, managing director of mortgage brokerage group Specialist Financial Services, said lenders have become more competitive as they seek to protect their market share.
Mr Sutton said: "There is a wider choice of products available, serving a broader range of people with more sensible underwriting decisions.
"Lenders are trying to maintain market share and have increased the terms they are willing to offer."
Such an increase in mortgage offerings has clearly made the process of gaining a mortgage easier than ever before – with some lenders even offering 100% mortgages on properties in an effort to maintain their place in the marketplace. With more options available offering more flexibility, it is no wonder that mortgage approvals have increased, which bodes well for the year ahead for property sales."