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  Category: Articles » Finance » Mortgages » Article

Mortgage boom or bust in the UK

By Richard Green

Recent talk within the housing market of a possible slow down, marking an end to the mini boom which has been gradually pushing house prices up across the country, seem to have been premature. The latest figures from the British Bankers' Association (BAA) indicate that mortgage lending for May has just received its biggest boost for more than two years.

David Dooks, BBA director of statistics, said, "May's rise in net mortgage lending, the largest monthly increase since the rise of £6bn in April two years ago, shows the mortgage market to be very much alive at a time when annual house price growth is strengthening. Overall unsecured lending rose more than the recent monthly average, but a notable aspect within this was a second large net fall in credit card borrowing in the last three months. This contrast between secured and card borrowing reflects customer sentiment."

The upturn in mortgage lending indicated by the BAA concurs with other recent surveys from the UK's biggest mortgage lender, the Halifax, which shows house prices increasing again following a period of stagnation.

Howard Archer, from Global Insight economic consultancy, announced that the robust levels of, "Mortgage lending and approvals in May indicate that reports of the death of the 'mini-boom' in the housing market are premature." He also suggested that, "House prices will see further strength in the near term at least, after showing recent tentative signs of coming off the boil."

This is good news for the main mortgage providers, however research from Direct Line Mortgages indicates that it is not only standard mortgage companies that are set to reap the rewards from this increase in house buying. The online mortgage market was singled out by Direct Line for a huge upturn in popularity; with nearly twice as many people than previous surveyed stating that they would apply for a mortgage online if they knew they were getting the cheapest deal available.

"We believe that the online mortgage market is ready for strong growth in a similar way to the increase in recent times of grocery, music and book shopping online," said David Dyer, commercial director for Direct Line Mortgages.

"Many people realise that the best way to achieve value for money is to go online, as they do currently when taking out a personal loan. That same philosophy will increasingly apply to buying your mortgage," he added.

Although people looking for a mortgage appear to value direct personal contact in the initial stages of the mortgage process, Direct Line see consumers' beginning to make the switch towards internet providers. Following the preliminary advice, consumers are starting to do their own research on the best deals online, through mortgage comparison sites like Moneynet, rather than simply accepting the deals available through the highstreet channels. Large banks such as Barclays and the major mortgage companies which maintain online facilities, along with ultra competitive smaller online mortgage providers are liable to be the biggest winners from the shifting attitudes.

Analysts are however doubtful whether house prices can continually sustain these patterns of strong increases for any extended periods. The affordability of property purchasing has, for many prospective buyers, already been affected adversely by the long term increases in house price inflation which has again reverted to above average earning growth levels. Many industry forecasters are again pointing towards the concerns expressed by housebuyers, especially first time buyers, as evidence of an expected rise in UK interest rates by the year-end.


All information contained in this article, is for general information purposes only and should not be construed as advice under the Financial Services Act 1986. You are strongly advised to take appropriate professional and legal advice before entering into any binding contracts.
About the Author
Richard lives in Edinburgh, occasionally writing for the personal finance blog Cashzilla, and listens to music no one else likes.

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