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Gross lending in August sees little change from July says CML

Total gross lending in August reached £34 bn, little movement from July’s total of £34.1bn, says the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

However, the CML says that the make up of lending has changed significantly since a year ago.

Both lending for house purchase and remortgage have declined by 11 per cent and 12 per cent respectively compared with August last year, but total lending has been buoyed by a strong buy-to-let market.

Other lending was 37 per cent higher than in August 2006, and has been consistently higher than its comparable 2006 figure throughout this year.

Compared with July, the number of loans for house purchase increased by 5 per cent to 99,000, with a value of £15.7 billion, while the number of remortgages decreased by 5 per cent, to 88,000, with a value of £10.5 billion.

The CML says it is uncertain what impact the new home information pack requirements, which came into effect for newly marketed four bedroom properties in August 2007 and three bedroom properties from 10 September, had on activity levels.

The CML says that today’s data covers a period before the problems associated with Northern Rock began to emerge. It believes it is unlikely any effects from this will be seen in the CML’s published statistics for completed loans until the end of November, but they will feed through sooner in applications and approvals data from other surveys.

Affordability has continued to worsen as first-time buyers typically borrowed 3.38 times their income, a figure unchanged since July, while the proportion of income they spent on interest rose from 19.7 per cent in July, to 20 per cent.

Movers typically took out loans of 3.03 times their income and committed 17.2 per cent of their income towards mortgage interest. Debt servicing burdens are the worst they have been in 16 years for first-time-buyers and the worst in 15 years for movers and set to worsen further in the next few months.

Fixed-rate products continue to be popular accounting for 78 per cent of mortgages, up 19 percentage points from 59 per cent in August last year.

CML director general Michael Coogan: “Affordability clearly remains challenging but there may be some relief for borrowers with expectations of an interest rate cut, perhaps as early as November. We are set to have a very segmented market for some months to come. The sub-prime sector is still facing funding constraints, while mainstream fixed-rate deals have begun to get cheaper.

“As lenders move to price for the risk they are taking on, mortgages are set to become more expensive for customers who have poorer credit histories. Now is the time for consumers to look to improve their credit status to keep their borrowing costs as low as possible. If you face payment difficulties, please speak to your lender before you miss a payment.”

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