Will the fall in UK mortgage lending be an economic barometer for 2018?

UK mortgage lending is at its lowest level since 2015, with some sellers in London reportedly dropping property purchase prices by as much as 10% to get a sale.


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According to The Bank of England, new mortgages for residential purchases at the end of December 2017 had fallen by around 6%, with re-mortgaging 14% down.

And there are signs that the usual ripple effect from London has also hit cities such as Oxford in the south and Aberdeen in the north - both show evidence of house price reductions.

Whilst the recent Hometrack Cities Index indicated slow growth for the rest of the UK, the reduction in residential property market activity underlined by the mortgage approval stats could mean that 2018 is to be a tough year.

Whilst the Bank is hoping disposable incomes will rise and inflation will be curbed later in the year, continued uncertainty over Brexit, the looming threat of inflation and potential interest rates rises do nothing to ease the downward pressure.

These latest reports do little either for homeowners with interest-only mortgages, with warnings from the Financial Conduct Authority about the risks of them not being in a position to pay their loans off once their mortgage term reaches its natural end.

Regulators have warned about this before, citing the interest-only mortgage market as huge risk to the economy and the housing market. It is estimated that one in five mortgages are interest-only or on part repayment monthly, representing 1.67m 'live' accounts and about 1 in 6 of UK home loans.

2017 figures also indicate that about a quarter of those with interest-only and part-capital mortgages have a low income profile. The FCA wants more progress on reducing interest-only mortgage holders, warning that many could lose their homes if they cannot repay the capital when the mortgage term ends.

Consumer credit net lending stats also indicate that low income earners are showing greater propensity for taking out credit cards and short term loan agreements.


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Regulators hope that spike in growth will not become a trend, but the Bank of England has warned lenders about their responsibilities. They in turn have predicted a decrease in unsecured credit availability in Q1 of 2018. We shall have to wait and see!

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