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Mortgage borrowing at near two-year low, says CML

Mortgage lending to home buyers fell to a near two-year low in January amid a ‘stubbornly persistent’ lull in moving activity, fresh data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show, while remortgage lending continued to outpace the rest of the market.

In January, 45,700 home loans were secured by property purchasers collectively worth £8.4bn, down 28% on December and 1% from the corresponding period last year.

Buy-to-let property purchase activity ‘continues to be weak’, which some analysts had expected to create fresh opportunities for first-time buyers.

But the figures reveal that first-time borrowers took out £3.6bn of mortgages in January, down 29% from December, although this did represent a 9% increase compared with January 2016.

Those moving home borrowed £4.9bn in January, down 25% on December and 4% year-on-year. This equated to 23,000 loans, down 27% month-on-month and 7% compared to January 2016.

Remortgaging activity, which was up 54% by value and 46% by volume on December, dominated the market.

CML director general Paul Smee said: “January gives the impression of a flattish market overall, albeit one with a resurgent remortgage sector. We expect a seasonal dip in activity in the winter months and this appears to be the case in January.

“However, the lull in moving activity appears stubbornly persistent, and we have commissioned research on the reasons why the number of transactions seems in secular decline.” 

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