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Mutual mortgage approvals rocket 45% in H1 2012

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Mortgage approvals by building societies and other mutuals grew by 45% in the first six months of the year, according to the Building Societies Association.

Its report said that gross mortgage lending in the last six months rose by 38% compared to the same period last year, rising from £10.2bn to £14.1bn.

Building societies and mutuals approved 15,396 mortgages during the first half of the year.

Paul Broadhead, head of mortgage policy at the Building Societies Association, said: “Lending by mutuals has grown in each month of 2012 on a year on year basis, and the June figures for mortgage approvals are above the previous six months’ average.

“This means lending by mutuals looks likely to continue to be strong in coming months. Growth in lending by banks over the past six months has been relatively weak while the economy remains in recession.

“In contrast, mutuals have demonstrated their commitment to lend, and are currently offering some of the best rates available in the market.”

Saffron Building Society saw one of the biggest growth spurts in lending, rising 97% year-on-year, with executive partner of mortgage strategy Colin Snowdon hoping for increased competition in the sector.

“There’s currently not enough diversity in the UK mortgage market; the “big six” lenders dominate the vanilla space, accounting for around 90% of gross lending.

“That can’t be good for consumers – or indeed for those lenders themselves. There’s lots of talk about the need for more competition and diversity and therefore I hope people recognise the important and innovative role regional building societies play, and will increasingly play in the market.”

Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: “Mortgage lending by mutuals has been the driving force behind much of the growth in 2012.

“We’ve been undertaking significant levels of business with the mutual market this year as they remain committed to lending and have some of the most competitive rates in the market.”

Figures released by the Bank of England show that the gross mortgage lending in the whole UK market, including banks, reached £55.2bn during the last six months, marginally down on the same period last year. House purchase mortgages made up £32.3bn of this figure.

The number of loan approvals fell to 83,676 in June, with house purchases making up 44,192 of the figure.

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