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UK mortgage approvals drop to a six-month low

UK mortgage approvals drop to a six-month low

According to industry date, British banks approved the fewest mortgages for house purchases since March last month and demand to refinance home loans also fell after Bank of England raised its interest rate in August

The number of mortgages approved for house purchase dropped to a six-month low of 38,505 in September from 39,241 in August, down 6.7% on a year earlier, showed the seasonally adjusted figures from UK Finance.

Lending amounted to £21.5bn ($2.27bn) for the month, the lowest since the £20.6bn($26.5bn) recorded in April–and a drop of 1.2% on the same period in 2017.

High street banks’ mortgage approvals fell by 9.1% year on year.

New house purchases fell 10.1%  and remortgages dropped 7.4%, the data showed.

Britain’s housing market has noticeable slowed down since the Brexit vote in June 2016. Most of the weakness has been felt in London and neighbouring areas, which have also been hit by a rise in purchase taxes for property worth over £1mn($1.78mn).

Net mortgage lending dropped to £1.55bn($1.99bn) last month from £1.617bn($2.08bn), the weakest since January.

Eric Leenders, UK Finance’s managing director of personal finance stated: “The mortgage market softened slightly in September, following strong remortgaging activity in the months preceding the recent base rate rise.”

Unsecured consumer lending was more stable, growing by an annual 4%in September, but lending to non-financial companies was down by 2% on the year, extending a run of falls seen since April.

“Economic uncertainty continues to impact on businesses’ appetite for finance as overall lending remains slightly below the same period last year,” stated Stephen Pegge, UK Finance’s managing director for commercial finance.

The Confederation of British Industry stated on Tuesday that factories were scaling back investment as uncertainty about Britain’s relationship with the European Union remained unclear, little more than five months before Brexit. 

UK Finance also found that personal borrowing through loans and overdrafts grew by 2.3% in the year to September, as credit card spending hit £10bn($12.8bn) last month – 3.4% higher than last September. With outstanding levels of credit card borrowing also grew by 5.7% over the past 12 months.​

Leenders stated: “There has been modest year-on-year growth in card spending. However, borrowing through personal loans and overdrafts has contracted slightly in recent months, suggesting demand for unsecured household finance is becoming more subdued.

“Consumers are increasingly choosing to keep cash close to hand, with deposits held in instant access accounts showing steady growth.”Added Leenders.

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