Is the UK Housing Market Beginning to Slow Down?

All eyes have been on the housing market since the Brexit vote occurred back in June. Many supposed people might want to wait to see the outcome of the vote and to see how the decision affected the housing market and associated mortgages. After some initial hesitancy, everything seemed to settle down again. However, the latest figures relating to loans granted to those who want to move home reveal that figures dropped in October. Around 28,900 loans were approved in October, which represented a decrease of 8% on the previous month. However, the figure was also nearly 20% lower than that seen at the same time last year. The total amount of money borrowed by home movers amounted to £5.9 billion in October. This too was a drop of 9% over Septembers figures and a drop of 18% compared with this time last year. Is remortgaging becoming more popular? It would seem so. The overall mortgage figures were boosted by a healthy increase in remortgaging, as people seemed to take the initiative to seek out better mortgage deals. The super-low interest rates and the further drop since the Brexit vote have led to mortgage costs reaching an all-time low. People have been switching to more affordable fixed-rate deals in the hope of securing affordable monthly payments for some years to come. Indeed, the number of remortgages seen last month hit its highest level for around seven years, since January 2009. The buy-to-let market has also been hit We were expecting this to happen, following the changes in the stamp duty rules that were introduced back in April. Lending for buy-to-let properties was up 7% compared to the previous month, but figures indicate two-thirds of loans were granted for remortgaging purposes instead of for purchases. Additionally, this part of the market also saw a significant drop compared to 12 months ago, falling some 21% in the process. Are we going to see the usual lull in property sales and mortgage loans for the end of the year? Probably indeed, Octobers figures could at least partially be attributed to this. With Christmas around the corner, many people will be looking to forget about selling or buying until the New Year. Once 2017 arrives, more people will be willing to look ahead and to focus on whether they can apply for a mortgage and start looking for somewhere else to live. With that in mind, we must remember forthcoming figures could show the usual seasonal lull rather than being directly attributable to Brexit or any other reason. One months figures cannot be relied upon to give us anything like an accurate picture or forecast of what might be to come. But after the relative uncertainty of 2016, we still have the potential Brexit and the triggering of Article 50 to come early in 2017. Will this too have an effect on the housing market, and if so, what type of effect will it have? Watch this space.

Published on 26 December 2016

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