Business

Mortgage debt falls for 10th quarter in a row

Houses
Image caption Those with mortgages have now been paying off more than they borrow for 30 months

Mortgage holders are continuing to pay down their loans, according to the Bank of England's latest quarterly figures.

Figures for the third quarter of the year show borrowers cut their collective debt by £6.1bn.

It is the 10th quarter in a row that homeowners have put more money into their home than they took out.

Separately, the Halifax released a report showing first-time buyers would need an average deposit of £29,000 to buy a property.

But the mortgage lender added that the proportion of disposable income needed for mortgage payments was now the lowest for 12 years, at 27%.

Collectively, those with mortgages have been reducing the amount outstanding since the second quarter of 2008 and have paid in £49.7bn since then.

'Serious concerns'

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "There is an ongoing desire and perceived need of many people to improve their personal balance sheets, given high debt levels and serious concerns and uncertainties over the economic situation.

"Extremely low savings interest rates have made it much more attractive for many people to use any spare funds that they have to reduce their mortgages."

The recent trend among homeowners to pay down their mortgages contrasts with their behaviour during the housing boom, when they unlocked a record £17.1bn during the last quarter of 2003.

Recent figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) showed mortgage lending fell 5% in November compared with the previous month and was down 10% on a year ago, lenders say.

The uncertain housing market means it is more difficult not only to get a mortgage, but to increase the size of an existing one.

The CML said mortgage lending remained weak owing to a lack of interest from buyers and rationing of home loans from lenders.

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