Property & Mortgages

Number of first-time buyer mortgages goes down in March

first-time buyer mortgages

The number of first-time buyer mortgages completed in March 2019 fell for the first time since September 2018, shows UK Finance data

The number of first-time buyer mortgages completed in March 2019 fell for the first time since September 2018, data showed.

There were 28,800 first-time buyer mortgages completed in March 2019, 2.4% fewer year-on-year, when they stood at 29,510, according to UK Finance.

Lending for residential mortgages in March for house purchases, secured by a first charge on the property, was £4.7bn, down 2.8% on the same month a year ago.

The number of home mover mortgages completed in the month fell by six per cent year-on-year to 25,280, with a value of £5.5bn, down 4.7% on last year.

There were 16,810 new remortgages with additional borrowing in March 2019, 9.1% more than in the same month in 2018. For these remortgages, the average amount taken out in March was £55,700.

Additionally, 15,030 were simple pound-for-pound remortgages, 1.1% fewer than in March 2018. In total, there were 4.1% more residential remortgages in March 2019 than in the same month a year earlier.

This is the twelfth consecutive month of year-on-year growth in remortgaging, as a number of fixed-rate deals come to an end and borrowers continue to lock into attractive rates.

The report also found that the number of buy-to-let home purchase mortgages completed in March 2019 decreased by 9.1% to 5,000 from the same month in 2018. There were 14,400 remortgages in the BTL sector, 3.9% more than in the same period last year.

While BTL house purchase activity continues to contract due to tax and regulatory changes, BTL remortgaging has increased year-on year for the second month in a row.

Director of Coreco, Andrew Montlake said that with rates nearing rock-bottom given the intensity of competition among lenders, remortgages have gone off the Richter Scale.

He said that the 9.1% rise in additional borrowing remortgages compared to a year ago reflects the fact that a lot of people are choosing to add value to their existing homes rather than move. While home mover mortgages were down in March, purchases have really started to gain momentum since April, with the usual late Spring lift being boosted by a growing indifference to Brexit.

The ‘window shoppers of 2018 now have their wallets out and are making genuine offers’ while lenders are targeting niche areas like the self-employed in a bid to get funds into the market, he said.

Steve Seal, director of sales and marketing at Bluestone Mortgages, said that homeowners are continuing to make the most on offer by way of government initiatives and attractive mortgage deals, keeping up remortgage activity in the market despite the ongoing economic uncertainty.

He added that however, not all customers are able to access the best rates. Those that have a blip in their credit score, for example, will be turned away, even if it’s down to one missed payment.

What the industry must do more of is guide these customers towards where they can access affordable lending. This is where specialist lenders are on hand to provide these borrowers with the support they need, offering tailored solutions to match them and their circumstances, he said.

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