First-time buyer mortgage approvals hit a six-month high but remortgaging powers ahead

The number of mortgage approvals for first-time buyers and home movers continued to climb in May but remortgaging is back in the driving seat.

Lending data from UK Finance shows approvals to first-time buyers were up 0.5% annually to 30,720, the highest level for six months.

Approvals for home movers were down 1.2% annually to 29,430, but still at the highest level so far this year.

However, remortgaging dominated the sector in May, with approvals up 20% annually.

The figures show a 19.8% jump in approvals for remortgages with additional borrowing.

This has been seen as sign that home owners are looking to improve rather than move.

UK Finance said this was also in line with fixed rate deals coming to an end and customers therefore reviewing their mortgage.

Meanwhile, buy-to-let approvals were flat.

Commenting on the figures, Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “These numbers are particularly interesting because although overall mortgage activity has declined compared with this time last year, the encouraging news is that first-time buyer numbers are proving more resilient than we might otherwise have expected.

“First-time buyers are the lifeblood of the market as they buy at the bottom and trade up after a few years rather than investors who tend to buy at the bottom and tend to stay there.

“Buyers are also taking advantage of reduced competition from the buy-to-let market as landlords reduce activity following various recent tax and regulatory changes with several more on the way which will compromise profitability. They are also benefiting from almost record low mortgage rates and improving affordability.”

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One Comment

  1. JMK

    Mr Leaf is right, FTBs do of course buy and then some years later are more likely to trade up, whereas landlords will buy-and-hold.  What he seems to be missing is that landlords may buy several houses in one year, they are unlikely to change their minds once made, they will usually have excellent credit AND they will often buy properties that others will not.  Perhaps Jeremy isn’t experiencing these activities because he keeps on alienating an important part of the market.

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