March rise in mutual mortgage lending

Gross mortgage lending by building societies and other mutual lenders rose 58% in March 2012 compared to the same month last year, according to Building Societies Association (BSA).

It was also up by 40% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011. Net lending by mutuals was positive for the sixth consecutive month.

Mortgage approvals by mutuals were up 39% in March compared to March last year, and they were up 40% in the first quarter of the year compared to the first quarter of 2011.

Retail savings balances at mutuals fell by £266 million in March, compared to an increase of £273 million in the same month last year. After interest credited is removed there was a net withdrawal of £945 million in March.

Adrian Coles (pictured), director-general of the BSA, said: “Gross lending and approvals by mutuals were particularly strong not only in March, but the whole of the first quarter, which was well up on the same period in 2011. The additional lending in March can, in part, be attributed to the increased number of first time buyers who took action to get the benefit of the stamp duty concession before it ended on 24 March.

“In all around 6,500 mortgage loans were made to first time buyers by building societies and other mutuals in March, up from 3,100 in March last year. Of these about two thirds are estimated to have benefited from the stamp duty exemption. Some purchase decisions are likely to have been brought forward as a result of the deadline so lending to first time buyers may dip slightly in coming months.

“More broadly, mortgage lending to those moving home or remortgaging was also up strongly. This reflects the attractive mortgages on offer from mutuals with them accounting for more than three-quarters of mortgage best-buys in the quarter. Approval figures demonstrate that there is a strong mortgage pipeline, which suggests that mutuals’ mortgage lending will hold up well into the summer.”