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Gross mortgage lending grows in March

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The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that gross mortgage lending reached £16.5bn billion in March. This is a 21 per cent rise on February at £13.6bn and 7 per cent higher than last year.

This makes gross mortgage lending for the first quarter an estimated £44.9bn, which is a 12 per cent fall on the last quarter of 2014.

CML chief economist Bob Pannell said: “The underlying lending picture is stabilising. Sentiment and activity are showing early signs of improvement, and should be further supported by the effects of stamp duty reform. We expect to see lending strengthen over the next few months, albeit from a relatively sluggish start in 2015.”

The latest data from the CML suggests that housing activity is back on track, said Brian Murphy, head of Lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB).

“There has been chatter in the market about the upcoming election putting the brakes on housing activity, but there is still appetite in the market for lending, and consumer demand has also held strong. Mortgage rates continue to fall, and the latest sub-2 per cent five year fixed mortgage suggests even better deals are yet to come,” he added.

“Recent figures from HMRC show that the number of housing transactions rose above 100,000 for the first time in four months in March: this should have a knock-on effect on mortgage completions, leading to further growth. However, with housebuilding levels still trailing behind consumer demand, long-term growth could be stunted if this imbalance is not addressed.”

Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, commented that buy to let, not residenial has been the real ‘success story’ this year.

However, he added: “We are seeing a huge improvement in terms of deals available, rates and relaxing of criteria since the downturn. While lenders abandoned the market in their droves after the onset of the financial crisis, they are well and truly back, and with pension freedoms introduced this month, many are sensing further opportunities.

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