UK Finance’s Mortgage Trends Update for March 2019 has revealed that there were 28,800 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in March 2019, 2.4% fewer than in the same month in 2018.
This is the first year-on-year decrease in first-time buyers since September 2018. There were 25,280 homemover mortgages completed in the month, 6% fewer year-on-year.
There were 16,810 new remortgages with additional borrowing in March 2019, 9.1% more than in the same month in 2018. For these remortgages, the average amount taken out in March was £55,700.
Additionally, 15,030 were simple pound-for-pound remortgages (with no additional borrowing), 1.1% fewer than in March 2018. In total, there were 4.1% more residential remortgages in March 2019 than in the same month a year earlier. This is the 12th consecutive month of year-on-year growth in remortgaging, as a number of fixed-rate deals come to an end and borrowers continue to lock into attractive rates.
There were 5,000 new buy-to-let home purchase mortgages completed in March 2019, 9.1% fewer than in the same month in 2018. There were 14,400 remortgages in the buy-to-let sector, 3.9% more than in the same period last year.
While buy-to-let house purchase activity continues to contract due to tax and regulatory changes, buy-to-let remortgaging has increased year-on year for the second month in a row.
Andrew Montlake, director of Coreco, said: “With rates nearing rock-bottom given the intensity of competition among lenders, remortgages have gone off the Richter Scale.
“The 9.1% rise in additional borrowing remortgages compared to a year ago reflects the fact that a lot of people are choosing to add value to their existing homes rather than move.
“While homemover mortgages were down in March, purchases have really started to gain momentum since April, with the usual late Spring lift being boosted by a growing indifference to Brexit.
“While there was a slight decrease in first-time buyer mortgages, they are still generating most of the momentum in the purchase market.
“We are also now seeing more activity further up the property ladder, as people’s lives have been on hold for long enough.
“The window shoppers of 2018 now have their wallets out and are making genuine offers.
“With competition for employed borrowers rife, more and more lenders are proactively targeting the self-employed, contractors and freelancers in a bid to get funds into the market.
“Many move at a glacial pace, but lenders are finally getting to grips with changing work patterns. They have to adapt their underwriting to the gig economy or they risk becoming irrelevant.
“If you’re not in conventional employment, there has never been a better time to take out a mortgage.”