Mortgage lending still subdued, lenders say

Two people looking in an estate agent's window
Image caption Mortgage lending will stay subdued for at least the next few months, lenders say

Mortgage lending continues to be subdued, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) says.

Total mortgage lending in October was £12.4bn, the same as in September but the lowest October figure since 2000.

The continued rationing of lending has been the main factor behind the recent fall in house prices.

The CML said lending in the coming months would probably be lower than it was a year ago.

"The month-on-month annual comparison is likely to continue to decrease a little in the coming months, because underlying lending volumes rose sharply in the latter part of 2009 as borrowers rushed to take advantage of the stamp duty concession before the end of the year," the CML said.


Brian Murphy, at mortgage brokers the Mortgage Advice Bureau, said he was "mildly encouraged" there had been no fresh drop in lending between September and October.

"Borrowers are nervous, even more so since the Spending Review and confirmation of some half a million public sector job losses," he said.

"This fear for their personal circumstances has certainly contributed towards the drop-off in mortgage applications," he added.

After picking up again earlier this year, property sales and house prices have been declining since the summer.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) has pinpointed a surplus of sellers over buyers as a key factor in the recent downturn in prices.

According to big lenders such as the Halifax and the Nationwide, prices are now only slightly higher than they were a year ago.

And with strict mortgage rationing still in force, sales have been declining gently in the past few months as well.

Jonathan Moore, of the rental website, said it was first-time buyers who were being squeezed the most.

"Lenders continue to require colossal sums for deposits and this is simply unachievable for the thousands of people waiting to get on to the property ladder," he said.

"As a result, competition for rental accommodation is fiercer than ever, and rents continue to rise."

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