The residential mortgage market has enjoyed a positive beginning to 2019 according to UK Finance, which has reported there were 25,100 new first-time buyer mortgages and 25,300 homemover mortgages in January.
That’s up by 4.6 per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively from the same point last year.
In contrast, there were 5,500 new buy-to-let purchase deals completed in the month, down by 1.8 per cent annually, while there was also a fall in homeowner remortgages with 47,000 cases completed, down by 2.7 per cent.
However, UK Finance noted that January 2018 saw the highest number of residential remortgages in nine years, and suggested the remortgaging sector is likely to see “continued strength” this year as more tranches of fixed-rate deals come to an end.
Lenders will have to be innovative
Mark Harris, chief executive at SPF Private Clients, said the year had got off to a “remarkably good start” given the political uncertainty, and suggested that people have had enough of situations they cannot control and so are instead opting to get on with their lives.
“Several lenders have trimmed rates this year in an effort to encourage more business, while innovative tweaks here and there are increasing as an alternative to offering the cheapest rate in the market,” he added.
Harris noted that with Swap rates dipping further over the past few days as a result of the Brexit situation, lenders were likely to pursue more innovative routes in product design, such as cash back and free valuations.
Buy-to-let market under pressure
Gareth Lewis, commercial director at MT Finance, noted that the buy-to-let market is feeling the pressure, and argued this will continue unless some of the restrictions placed on landlords are eased off.
“A review of stamp duty at least could stimulate movement in this area but perhaps this is wishful thinking, with the government loath to make any changes.”