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Banks greenlight highest number of mortgages in 18 months

Banks greenlight highest number of mortgages in 18 months
Samantha Partington
Written By:
Samantha Partington

Mortgage lenders gave the go-ahead to the highest number of house purchase mortgages in March that the market has seen since in 18 months.

According to figures from the Bank of England, mortgage approvals for house purchases increased from 60,500 in February to 61,300 in March.

Purchase approvals continued their upward trajectory following an 8% rise between January and February.

Approvals for remortgaging to a different lender decreased from 37,700 to 34,200 in March after a 22% increase the month before.

Meanwhile, the average interest rate paid on newly drawn mortgages decreased by 17 basis points to 4.73% in March, which follows a fall of 29 basis points the previous month, according to the Bank of England’s Money and Credit statistics.

March jump in mortgage lending

It was positive news for mortgage lending growth, too.

The value of new mortgages advanced to borrowers rose from £18.6bn in February to £20.1bn in March, the highest amount since February 2023.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “Mortgage approvals for new purchases rose again to their highest level as lower mortgage rates boosted borrower affordability and confidence. Our brokers have seen an increase in activity and enquiries.

“Remortgaging numbers decreased, perhaps as borrowers chose to stick with their existing lender and do a product transfer rather than go through the additional hassle of remortgaging to another lender.”

Swap rates tick up

Harris noted that, although the average interest rate paid on newly drawn mortgages fell, swap rates have subsequently risen and lenders have repriced upwards.

Gareth Lewis, managing director of property lender MT Finance, said: “Even if rates do creep up a little, this shouldn’t have too negative an impact, as confidence in house prices and where we are going to be from a rate environment [perspective] is unlikely to suppress too much optimism.

“When the sun comes out, people are far more positive, so while mortgage rates are edging upwards, this is unlikely to have such a negative impact as it would have done in, say, December.

“Businesses are also borrowing, which is a good sign, as lenders are confident that their propositions are sustainable.”

Related: Santander, NatWest and Nationwide increase mortgage rates