Mortgage market to plateau until 2018, lenders warn

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The mortgage market is likely "to plateau" over the next two years, as home buyers are put off borrowing more, UK lenders have warned.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has downgraded its forecast for 2017, saying it has become "more pessimistic" than a year ago.

It has cut its forecast for gross lending in 2017 to £248bn from £261bn.

In particular, it expects that buy-to-let borrowing by landlords will shrink over the next couple of years.

The forecasts are in contrast to the current year. Gross lending in the 12 months to November rose by 3%, the CML said.

'Not immune'

"Overall, the mortgage market remains resilient but is likely to plateau rather than grow much for the next couple of years," said CML director general Paul Smee.

He said he did not expect house prices to fall, although the number of transactions looked set to drift down slightly.

"The housing market is relatively well insulated from direct Brexit effects, as most activity is driven domestically, but it is not immune from more generalised economic uncertainty," he said.

Net lending - which takes account of repayments - is expected to be about £30bn in 2017. A year ago the CML had predicted a figure of £39bn.

The council, which represents 97% of residential mortgage lending, was particularly gloomy about the buy-to-let market.

It said it expected 2015 to have been the "high watermark" of landlord borrowing, with each of the following three years seeing declines.

It blamed stamp duty and regulatory changes.

Since April 2016, landlords have faced a 3% surcharge on stamp duty - or Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in Scotland - if they already owned another property. There have also been changes to what landlords can claim in tax relief.

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