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February 13, 2010    

First-time buyer loans hit two-year high

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by Gill Montia

First-time buyer mortgage approvals hit a two-year high in December as those buying properties costing up to £175,000 rushed their purchases through before the end of the stamp duty holiday.

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), 24,900 first-time buyer loans were sanctioned worth £2.9 billion, leaving both figures up 26% on November.

In December, house purchase approvals in general totalled 63,000 worth £8.5 billion, up from 51,000 and £7.1 billion a month earlier and almost double the volume and value recorded for December 2008.

Remortgaging activity remained steady on November at 28,000 approvals worth £3.4 billion but year-on-year approvals fell from 41,000 worth £5.7 billion.

Overall, 2009 mortgage lending was “very weak”, the CML reports, with total lending of £143.6 billion or 43% less than in 2008.

The total number of house purchase loans for the year stood at 517,000, up slightly from 516,200 in 2008 but just over half 2007′s pre credit crunch level of 1,015,100.

First-time buyers accounted for 198,200 of loans, up slightly from 193,700 in 2008 but down 44% from 357,100 in 2007.

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