Monthly secured lending rose to £85.5m in July, according to the latest Enterprise Finance Secured Loan Index.
Monthly completions increased by 14% from May to June, then improved by a further 2% in July, the report said.
Meanwhile, there was 21% more second charge activity in July 2015 than in July 2014.
Annual secured lending total stood at £849m for the year to July 2015.
Harry Landy, Director of Enterprise Finance, said: “After a slight calming in May, the second charge market soared in June and July as consumer appetite for secured loans boomed. Second charge completions have followed a similar pattern to wider gross mortgage lending in that they’ve really kicked up a gear after holding fairly steady throughout the spring. May’s figures were perhaps too early to capture the post-election feel-good factor, but the subsequent activity in June and July more accurately reflect the improving public sentiment.
“With almost £850m of second charge mortgages now being completed on an annual basis, it’s surely only a matter of time before we are talking about a £1bn-a-year industry. With public awareness of secured loans only set to be enhanced by the regulatory changes occurring in the spring when they come under the Mortgage Credit Directive, it would be no surprise if the sector surpassed this milestone at some point in 2016.”
Average loan sizes fell to £56,120 in July, their lowest level since January. However, the average amount borrowed is still comfortably above the equivalent month last year, when loans averaged £44,055.
The mean loan-to-value ratio for a second charge mortgage was 58% in July, slightly down from the 61% recorded in May, but broadly in line with the averages recorded for the year to date. The typical first charge mortgage size that secured loans sit behind has remained fairly consistent throughout 2015, but fell to £237,999 in July.
Debt consolidation overtook home improvements as the most common reason for utilising a second charge mortgage in July, with 45% of borrowers now citing this as the major motivator. However, property refurbishment still remains a popular reason for taking out a secured loan and accounts for just under a third of all transactions.
Landy said: “The fact the second charge market continues to grow at such a fast pace despite typical loan sizes slightly decreasing is testament to just how many transactions are being conducted each month. Many of the other variables are holding steady despite the market hotting up, showing that both lenders and borrowers are remaining sensible despite the flurry of activity.
“Home improvements have long been the most popular reason for accessing equity tied up in one’s property, so it was interesting to see this overtaken by debt consolidation in July. While the economic outlook is positive and borrowing rates are so attractive, consumers are obviously opting to get their financial affairs in order and manage any exiting debts more effectively. A secured loan won’t always be the most suitable option, but in some circumstances it can reduce overall monthly payments and help borrowers feel more in control.
“A number of elements combined to cause such strong second charge mortgage activity in June and July. But while the post-election surge and the spike in activity caused by wanting to beat the late-summer lull were expected, the impact the remortgage market has had on proceedings is less cut and dried.
“Previously when remortgaging activity was down year-on-year and secured lending was up on an annual basis, it was clearer to see how the second charge market was directly benefitting from the mainstream mortgage market’s travails. However, even though remortgaging activity is now soaring, a correlation can still be established. Homeowner appetite for finance is obviously still there, but with the tougher rules of the Mortgage Market Review in place, some borrowers are finding that their remortgage applications aren’t successful or are realising halfway through the process that remortgaging may not be the most efficient way of accessing the funds they need.
“If homeowners are remortgaging to access capital, then it is always worth considering whether a secured loan might be a suitable option. Second charge mortgages coming under Mortgage Credit Directive legislation in March will undoubtedly help increase awareness of secured loans as a viable option, but in the meantime lenders and brokers have a duty to continue educating borrowers on this score.”