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First-time buyer numbers up in October but re-mortgage activity falls sharply

By Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent

The number of people getting on the property ladder was higher in October than a year earlier, but re-mortgaging levels fell sharply, figures from a trade association show.

Some 32,260 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in October 2019, 2.8% more than in the same month in 2018, UK Finance said.

There were also signs of increased activity among existing home owners who were moving properties.

There were 33,370 home-mover mortgages completed in October 2019, 4.2% more than in October 2018.

Meanwhile, there were 18,910 new re-mortgages where extra money was borrowed – down by around a fifth (20.8%) on a year earlier.

For these re-mortgages, the average additional amount borrowed in October was £51,000.

There were 20,660 new “pound-for-pound” re-mortgages with no additional borrowing –  20% fewer than in October 2018.

UK Finance said the fall in re-mortgage activity follows a strong period of growth in September.

Looking at lending to landlords, UK Finance said 6,600 new buy-to-let home purchase mortgages were completed in October 2019, 1.5% fewer than a year earlier.

There were 16,200 remortgages in the buy-to-let sector, 2.4% down on the same month in 2018.

The figures were released as a separate report from NAEA Propertymark (National Association of Estate Agents), which said the number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch decreased in November, from 341 to 332. This was the lowest figure seen since July.

The number of properties available per member branch remained the same in November, standing at 39.

Mark Hayward, chief executive, NAEA Propertymark, said greater political certainty, following last week’s general election, could now trigger more housing market activity.

He said: “The housing market now has reassurance from a Government, which will in turn inject some confidence in the market for both buyers and sellers.

“Now the political impasse is resolved and it’s clear how and when we’ll be leaving the EU, we hope there will be a degree of certainty which may trigger a flurry of activity.”