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Mortgage approvals in UK rise

Reported by AAP
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Super-rich getting richerThe world's super-rich could actually be wealthier than anyone first thought.

Mortgage approvals to buy a house have risen to their highest numbers since the start of the year, in further signs that an STG80 billion ($A123.69 billion) government scheme to boost lending is having an impact.

There were 33,039 approvals for house purchase worth STG5.2 billion in October - the highest number seen since January when the prospect of a stamp duty concession for first-time buyers ending prompted a rush of sales.

The figures were contained in the British Bankers' Association's (BBA) latest high street banking report, which said that overall, net lending remains "subdued" as people are still making high repayments and shoring up their savings as a "buffer against uncertainty".

The STG80 billion funding for lending scheme was launched by the Treasury and the Bank of England at the start of August to kick-start lending to households and firms by giving lenders access to cheap finance.

The scheme has already caused an increase in mortgage availability and seen lenders slash their mortgage rates, although much of the strongest competition so far has been aimed at borrowers with bigger deposits.

Howard Archer, chief European and UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "The recent signs of modestly improving housing market activity and the likely increasing beneficial impact of the funding for lending scheme led us to believe that house prices are now likely to be essentially stable over the coming months, rather than drift down gradually.

"However, we still suspect that any significant, sustainable turnaround in house prices is still some way off."

Archer cautioned that mortgage approval numbers are still less than two-thirds of their monthly average seen since 1997.

The figures come after the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reported earlier this week that mortgage lending reached an 11-month high in October, suggesting funding for lending has made an "early positive impact".

The BBA's report also showed a slight upturn in re-mortgage approvals, with 20,112 approvals in October worth STG2.7 billion, representing the highest numbers seen since the spring.

A string of lenders have announced increases to their standard variable rates (SVR) in recent months, resulting in more than a million home owners facing increased mortgage costs.

However, people could find it harder to switch to a cheaper deal as lenders have also toughened their borrowing criteria amid the weak economy.

The BBA said that high mortgage repayments being made by homeowners amid low interest rates has diminished net mortgage lending, which remains subdued.

BBA statistics director David Dooks said that loan repayment levels generally are high enough to "generate subdued net lending data, not only in the household sector, but also in the business sector".

Cautious consumers continued a long-running trend of paying off more on their credit cards than they put on them in new spending.

Some STG7.1 billion was spent on credit cards in October, while STG7.4 billion was made in repayments.

The BBA said that outstanding levels of personal borrowing including credit cards, loans and overdrafts contracted by 2.7 per cent over the year to October, driven by a decline in loans and overdrafts, which shrunk back by 8.2 per cent.

Meanwhile, people looking for better rates on their savings continued to pile money into cash ISAs, leading to a rise in all personal deposits of 6.1 per cent over the year to October.

The figures also showed that net lending to non-financial companies rose by around STG200 million in October, following a STG1 billion drop in September.

Net lending to financial firms decreased by STG4 billion, compared with a STG6.7 billion increase the previous month.

02/09/2014 11:49Sydney, Australia. 2 September,2014
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