March mortgage lending 17% down
Latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) present a mixed picture.
Last month, gross lending increased by 5% on February, to £26.3 billion, but was 17% down on March 2007.
Traditionally, there is a 20% difference between February and March mortgage lending, as the housing market arises from winter lethargy.
This year’s low figure for March reflects both a lack of confidence in the housing market and the difficulties of the mortgage market, where some cash-strapped lenders have been actively discouraging new customers.
According to the CML, gross mortgage lending for the first three months of 2008 fell 8% to £77.2 billion.
The decline was less than some analysts were expecting but the CML’s director general, Michael Coogan, has warned that lending levels could continue to fall in the next few months.
Last week, the CML’s chairman, Steven Crawshaw, went further and warned that mortgage funding could be cut by half in 2008 if the Bank of England failed to provide additional support to lenders “sooner rather than later”.
According to financial website, Moneyfacts, the number of mortgage products on the market stands at 3,939 compared with the 13,428 products available in April last year.