Mortgage Lending in Quietest Month

The Birmingham Post (England), March 21, 2006 | Go to article overview

Mortgage Lending in Quietest Month


Mortgage lending eased during February as consumers paused for breath during what is traditionally the quietest month of the year for lending, figures showed yesterday.

Both the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the British Bankers' Association reported a fall in borrowing during the month.

The CML said total mort-gage lending reached pounds 21.8 billion during the month, the lowest level since April last year and five per cent below January's figure of pounds 23 billion.

At the same time, the BBA said net mortgage lending, which strips out redemptions and repayments, eased to pounds 4.43 billion in February, down on both January's figure of pounds 4.58 billion and an average of pounds 4.8 billion during the previous six months.

Nevertheless, the CML said the total advanced was still the highest figure on record for February, and was 22 per cent higher than the pounds 17.9 billion lent in February 2005. The group added that confidence in the housing market was strong and demand had returned to the levels seen two years ago.

But it added that the latest mortgage approval figures suggested the upward trend in activity might be drawing to an end.

David Dooks, BBA director of statistics, said: "Just as we did not regard the above-trend rises in the major banks' net mortgage lending towards the end of 2005 as heralding a sustained upturn in mortgage market activity, we do not now see the moderately weaker figures as signalling a downturn, particularly with reports of house prices picking up in 2006 so far.

"Behind these monthly fluctuations, mortgage lending is on a stable trend, though not at the high 2004 levels. …

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