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Borrowers opting for variable rates as interest rise fear fades

The Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Building Societies&#39 Association have both seen big increases in lending in July compared with last year.

The CML reported a record £21.8bn last month compared with £15.5bn in July 2001 and £17.1bn in June this year.

The total number of loans in July to 147,000, the highest since records began in mid-1998, and up significantly from 120,000 in July last year.

The CML says that with fears of interest rate rises receding, 82 per cent of borrowers opted for variable-rate mortgages, which is the highest proportion taking SVRs since the mid-1990s.

The figures show that the average first-time buyer borrowed £83,406 in July, 2.57 times their income. This time last year, the average was 2.33 times income or £66,846.

BSA figures show gross advances reached £3.5bn in July, up from £2.1bn last year and £2.8bn in June this year.

Approvals rose to £3.7bn in July from £2.3bn in July last year and £3.2bn in June this year.

In the savings market, societies had net inflows of £879m, up from £312m last year and £865m in June.

CML head of research and analysis Bob Pannell says: “The buoyant conditions in the housing and lending markets are likely to persist for much of the rest of the year as households continue to enjoy low interest rates as well as high levels of employment.

“But these highly favourable conditions cannot continue indefinitely. A combination of factors – including higher unemployment, lower salary increases and an increase in National Insurance contributions – will engineer an easing back in the housing market.”

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