New mortgage lending nudges up
New figures from the Bank of England show the number of mortgages approved for house purchases rising for the third successive month in April.
Lenders approved 43,201 loans to home buyers, up from 40,000 in March.
The figures suggest that completed transactions, which increased 35% in March compared to February, should continue to rise.
Remortgaging activity fell again in April, reflecting a trend for borrowers coming off fixed-rate deals to remain on their existing lenders’ standard variable rates.
Commenting on the data, the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ economist, Paul Samter, observes that new mortgage lending in April was at its highest level since April 2008, when the figure stood at 55,000.
He adds “It looks almost inevitable that May approvals will be higher than a year ago for the first time since early 2007. However, activity remains at extremely low levels on any historic comparison – and weaker than at any point in the early 1990s.”
According to Mr Samter, limited lending capacity and rising unemployment are likely to act as a “ceiling”.
The Bank’s figures come a day after Hometrack reported that house prices in England and Wales stabilised in May, following a 20 month period of decline.
The housing intelligence firm calculates that the average cost of a home stood at £155,600 last month, down 9.6% on a year ago.