Bounce in mortgage approvals prompts ‘increase in activity’

The number of mortgage approvals being made to home-buyers increased in March, the latest bank of England figures reveal.

According to the data, the volume mortgage approvals for residential property purchases increased significantly, to 52,000 in March from 44,100 in February. However, the Bank pointed out that the latest total remains below the monthly average for 2022 of 62,700.

Lucian Cook, head of residential research at estate agent Savills, said: “Today’s bounce in mortgage approvals reflects an increasingly stable and competitive mortgage market.

“The ability to better plan their prospective mortgage outgoings has brought buyers back to a housing market that has proved more resilient than we feared would be the case six months ago.”

Cook said Savills’ own research indicates that buyers’ and sellers’ commitment to move has improved, but added: “This said, ongoing inflationary pressures and the prospect of further rate rises mean cash and equity-rich buyers are likely to remain in pole position over the remainder of the next six months”.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent, said: “We regard mortgage approvals as a very useful indicator of future direction of travel for the housing market and these figures are no exception.

“Lending was in the doldrums, reflecting the quiet period between the mini-Budget and the end of last year, whereas the approvals figures illustrate that stabilising mortgage rates and inflation is prompting an increase in activity.

“Nevertheless, buyers have recognised that the balance of power is shifting their way. As a result, it is generally only those sellers who understand the importance of realistic pricing who are succeeding.”

Also reflecting on the latest data, Jason Tebb, CEO of OnTheMarket, commented: “As the traditionally busier spring months kick into gear, it feels as though we’re getting back to where we were pre-pandemic, before the stamp duty holiday and race for space distorted the market.”

Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at estate agent Knight Frank, commented: “Properties that tick all the right boxes will hold their value but some of the pandemic froth is disappearing so asking prices will come under pressure.”



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