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UK mortgage approvals at record high in 2020

Abigail Fenton
·Writer
·2-min read
Terraced houses and rooftops in Everton, Liverpool, Merseyside. (Peter Byrne/PA Archive/PA Images)
Home purchases increased across all parts of the UK in 2020, according to new data. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/PA Images

Mortgage approvals were at a record level in 2020, skyrocketing by 154% in the second half of the year, according to new figures.

Home purchases increased across all parts of the UK, the data from online mortgage broker Trussle shows.

However, locations such as the West Midlands and the South West showed the largest increase, growing by 244% and 236% respectively.

In comparison, growth increased by just 147% in London, as COVID-19 lockdowns led people to reassess their love for the UK capital and city-living in general.

One of the key factors in mortgage approval growth was likely pent up demand from buyers who were unable to purchase a new home during the first coronavirus lockdown which began in March, Trussle said.

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In addition, when the market did reopen, the government’s stamp duty holiday was also key to driving demand — particularly among first-time buyers, who stood to save up to £15,000 ($20,467) if they managed to complete their property purchase before 31 March this year.

The research also found the strong demand in the second half of 2020 has also carried into 2021, the broker said.

As a result of delays across the market, it currently takes 134 days to complete a property purchase in the UK, the data shows.

The regions with the biggest increase in mortgage approvals in 2020 were the West Midlands (244%), South West (236%), East Midlands (214%), South East (204%), and North East (191%).

“Appetite for property remained incredibly strong despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic, which placed many households under a huge amount of financial strain,” said Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at Trussle.

READ MORE: UK house prices fall as buyers struggle for time to beat stamp duty deadline

“Lenders had to make big changes to their internal processes to accommodate a working from home set up.

“Despite experiencing some delays in the market, mortgage approvals rose to the highest level in 13 years during November last year.”

He added: “Buyers opting to purchase homes in regional locations, which are typically more rural, was no doubt the property trend of 2020 — but only time will tell if this is a long-term trend.

“If 2021 sees us able to return to some form of normality, old priorities of location over space and access to workplaces and amenities might mean people start flooding back into cities.”

Watch: House prices dip as sellers race to agree deals before end of stamp duty holiday