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Remortgaging activity picks up ahead of possible rate hike

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04/01/2017
Mortgage figures from the Bank of England (BoE) show remortgaging continued its slow upward trend in November, outstripping house purchases, as the possibility of a rate rise this year spurs homeowners on.

Mortgage approvals figures showed homeowners refinanced 45,683 properties, up from 40,755 in April when the upward trend began and overall transactions including purchases rose to 126,407.

Mark Dyason, director of independent mortgage broker, Edinburgh Mortgage Advice, said: “It’s no surprise that remortgage activity picked up more sharply than house purchases in November.

“There is a growing sense among existing UK homeowners that the first rate rise for a very long time could be on the horizon.

“More recently, this feeling has been compounded by the quarter point rate hike in the US in December.”

Dyason added that many are opting for five-year fixes, which are marginally more expensive than two-year fixes but choosing safety in a time of political uncertainty.

“The sense that time is running out on the best rates, coupled with a general softening in prices, especially in prime areas of the country, has kept the market ticking over,” he added.

Yesterday, Halifax predicted that annual house price growth nationally will slow to 1 to 4% by the end of 2017.

The lender admitted its wide ranging forecast reflects the higher than normal degree of uncertainty regarding the prospects for the UK economy this year.

The lender reckons housing demand will fall in 2017 due to slower economic growth, pressure on employment and a squeeze on spending power.

Halifax’s housing economist, Martin Ellis, said: “Slower economic growth in 2017 is likely to result in pressure on employment with a risk of a rise in unemployment. This deterioration in the labour market, together with an expected squeeze on households’ spending power – as inflation picks up and outpaces earnings growth later in the year – is likely to curb housing demand.”

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