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House purchases fell in run up to rate rise

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The number of home purchases fell in the lead up to the base rate rise, but remortgage activity remained high, figures reveal.

There were 34,900 new first-time buyer mortgage completions in June, a 3.6% drop compared to the same month the previous year, according to trade body UK Finance.

And there were 33,700 new homemover mortgages completed in the month, down 7.9% year-on-year.

But remortgage activity increased with 37,400 new homeowner remortgages completed, an 8.4% increase on the same month a year earlier.

Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said: “Remortgaging continued to dominate in June with figures up 13% on the same period last year as existing two and three year products came to an end and borrowers opted for new deals.

“Despite a boost in recent months, speculation of a base rate rise saw the market remain relatively subdued with year-on-year declines in activity among both first-time buyers and home movers as customers adopted a wait and see approach.”

Buy-to-let home purchase mortgage completions in June dropped sharply by 19.4% to 5,400, while there were 12,600 buy-to-let remortgage completions, the same as June 2017.

John Eastgate, sales and marketing director at OneSavings Bank, said: “The housing market slowed as economic uncertainties persisted thanks to Brexit and well-founded expectations of a rate rise.

“Stamp duty continues to deter purchase activity in more expensive areas and this has consequences for the whole market, so the large fall in purchase activity is no great surprise. With activity falling, housebuilding way off its long-term target and a continuing lack of political clarity on housing policy, we will surely see a continuation of current housing challenges.”

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