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Buy-to-let continues to struggle, says CML

The UK buy-to-let market continued to struggle in the first quarter of 2009 as funding restrictions and falling house prices took hold, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

It found that new buy-to-let lending fell for the sixth consecutive quarter in the first three months of 2009; buy-to-lending accounted for 6 per cent of all gross mortgage lending in the first quarter, down from 12 per cent a year earlier.

The CML says there were 22,400 new buy-to-let mortgages advanced in the first quarter, down from 38,000 in the fourth quarter of 2008 and 72,400 in the first quarter of last year. The total number of outstanding buy-to-let mortgages was 1,155,200 at the first quarter, slightly down from 1,157,000 at the end of 2008.

By value, buy-to-let gross advances totalled £2.1bn in the first quarter, down from £4bn in the fourth quarter and £9.5bn in the first quarter of last year.

It also found that 3.09 per cent of buy-to-let loans were in arrears of three months or more at the end of the first quarter, up from 2.31 per cent at the end of 2008.

CML director general Michael Coogan says: “It is not surprising that buy-to-let lending continued to fall in the first quarter. Many buy-to-let lenders relied on wholesale markets rather than retail savings to fund their lending. Some have therefore had no access to the measures to support capital and new lending that have been available to deposit-takers. This, along with general housing market weakness, has influenced the decline in buy-to-let lending.

“However, in the wake of the Rugg review and the government’s recent commitments to strengthen the private rented sector, buy-to-let will continue to fulfil an important role. We urge the government to consider whether other ways to help non-deposit takers to increase their contribution to the new lending market can be achieved, and we would expect this to have a beneficial impact on buy-to-let.”

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