Business

Mortgage lending 'picks up again'

Walking past an estate agency
Image caption Mortgage lending is rising but is still subdued compared with the years before the credit crunch

Mortgage lending to home buyers picked up again in June, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) says.

Its figures showed that there were 52,000 new loans granted to home buyers, 19% more than in May and up 14% on the same month a year ago.

The CML said activity was "still on an upward trajectory" and described the rise in June as "significant".

However, the lenders' organisation said it was still cautious about the prospects for the coming months.

"This is now the 12th consecutive month in which lending has been higher than its year-earlier levels," said CML economist Paul Samter.

"But we still expect house purchase activity to be muted in the coming months.

"Both consumer demand and lending capacity remain distinctly difficult to call, especially in the light of the government's austerity measures and their possible impact," he added.

Mortgage rationing

The number of property sales has been rising this year, from 50,000 in January to 86,000 in June, according to recent data from HM Revenue & Customs.

However, this has still left lending and sales at levels roughly half those recorded in the years running up to the onset of the credit crunch in 2007.

One continued side effect of the banking crisis is that mortgage lending is still being severely rationed.

After a slight relaxation by lenders in April and May, first-time buyers in June were back to having to put down deposits averaging 24% of the value of the homes they are buying.

However, first-timers are managing to get back into the market.

They took 28% more mortgages in the first half of this year than they did in the first six months of 2009.

Downturn?

The UK's property market now appears to have stabilised around its recent low levels, according to the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King.

The Bank's latest Inflation Report points out that lenders have been rationing "higher-risk" loans and charging more for them.

House prices have changed little in recent months, according to the Nationwide and the Halifax.

But the Bank warned there were signs of a possible downturn in the coming months.

"Some forward-looking indicators have, however, weakened," it said.

"For example, survey evidence from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Home Builders Federation suggests that new buyer enquiries relative to new seller instructions for all types of property, and the number of site visits and reservations for new homes have fallen," it said.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites