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Mortgage approvals surged before coronavirus hit

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Gross mortgage borrowing jumped 1.7 per cent in the year to February as completions also soared, just before the coronavirus sent the market spiralling.

Mortgage approvals for home purchases increased to 73,500 in February, from 71,300 in January, and their highest level since January 2014, data from the Bank of England showed.

Remortgages had also increased to 53,400.

Gross borrowing hit its highest level since July 2018 at £23.3bn, up from £22.8bn in the previous month and £22.9bn in February 2019.

The bank acknowledged the data was largely unaffected by the impact of Covid-19.

Data from another time

Andrew Montlake, managing director of Coreco, said: “Never before has such strong mortgage approvals data rung so hollow. It feels like it came from another time.

“Within just a few weeks the property and mortgage markets have gone from strength to abject uncertainty.

“To say the property market is in uncharted territory is an understatement.

“We’re confident things will eventually get back on track but the great unknown in the current highly fluid environment is when.

“The hope is that the mortgage market rebounds as fast as it is deteriorating once we come out the other side of Covid-19.

“For now the most important thing is that every lender supports borrowers as best it can in these most challenging times.”

Home moves on hold

Last week, the government urged people to delay or not begin the process of buying or selling a home unless it was absolutely critical.

Mortgage lenders said they would extend offers for borrowers who have already exchanged contracts by up to three months.

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