Mortgage lending fell 38 per cent to £14.4bn in April (see graph) – its lowest level in seven years as the full effects of the coronavirus restrictions on the housing market became clear.
The impact on mortgage approvals was even more stark with just 56,500 new approvals completed – the lowest number recorded on the Bank of England’s (BoE) data which dates back to 1997.
This figure was down 60 per cent from February’s 140,429 approvals which was the last month unaffected by the coronavirus.
Unsurprisingly given the restrictions on moving home, approvals for purchases were most severely affected.
According to the BoE, the number of mortgage approvals for house purchase fell to around 80 per cent below the February level to 15,800 – approximately half the number of approvals as the bottom of the financial crisis.
Approvals for remortgaging fell by less, to 34,400, 34 per cent lower than in February.
The value of those approvals also fell in line with these figures – overall the approvals through April were worth just £9.3bn, 63 per cent down on February’s figure of £25.2bn.
Monthly gross mortgage lending (£) – Bank of England
With restrictions on house moves being lifted, industry commentators were more upbeat about the current conditions and prospects for the housing market.
Coreco managing director Andrew Montlake said: “Unsurprisingly, mortgage approvals went off a cliff in April as lockdown put the economy on hold. Since the lockdown was eased in mid-May we have seen a sharp increase in enquiries, reflecting the significant pent-up demand in the market right now.
“People had a lot of time to reflect during lockdown and many have now decided that they are keen to move to different areas of the country.
“We are seeing a sharp rise in the number of people looking to move to more rural areas given the perceived reduced risk from further potential surges in Covid-19.”
Valuations holding up
He added that while surveyors were being cautious valuations were holding up fairly well given the strength of demand.
“Whether valuations stay firm or collapse will depend on how the jobs market holds up during the summer and autumn,” he continued.
“Right now, with the economy propped up by the furlough scheme, we are feeling our way in the dark.”
Owain Thomas is features and contributing editor of Mortgage Solutions and editor of Specialist Lending Solutions.
He also has experience in the protection, pensions, workplace benefits and HR areas.
Owain has won two Headline Money Awards and the Protection Review’s Journalist of the Year award.