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National Mortgage Index - January 2019

Positive end to 2018 as market still busy in lead-up to Christmas

Brian Murphy, Head of Lending for Mortgage Advice Bureau comments:

"The UK high street may have been quieter than anticipated prior to Christmas, but the property market in December appeared to exceed seasonal expectations in some parts of the UK, with regions such as the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber and Wales ending the year with a flourish. Buyer activity in the major cities and surrounding towns and villages in these regions remained busy last month, regardless of the lead-up to the festive period, with the ongoing news headlines not appearing to make a significant impact on consumer confidence in terms of the property market. As such, we’d suggest this highlights the disaggregated environment that has been in evidence for most of 2018; the market has been highly nuanced for some time, with dynamics between price points as well as overall market activity varying between the major conurbations, even within the same region.

Reviewing our data for last month from a topline perspective, many key indicators for the Residential Purchase, Buy To Let and First Time Buyer sectors remained consistent compared to November. There was a small amount of change in terms of a couple of points in the Residential Remortgage sector, with the average remortgage loan increasing slightly, in line with the average remortgage property value, however these were only very modest movements, meaning that the overall picture remained steady and in-line with what we’ve observed for the majority of the last twelve months.

The lending environment also remained benign in December, with many mainstream lenders releasing competitively priced products, meaning that many borrowers were able to access near-historically low rates, either for purchase or remortgage. As such, our brokers reported that they observed a significant number of buyers who arranged their mortgage in December so that they had an Agreement In Principle ready to go for January when they planned to start house-hunting in earnest, as they had been tempted to apply for a mortgage a few weeks early, once they were aware of what rates were on offer.

With the major lenders, such as the Halifax and Nationwide house price indices reporting positive movement in average values for December, as well as HMRC returning a steady level of transactions, it’s possible to suggest that this supports what many of our advisers in our network saw ‘at the coal-face’ last month, which is that regardless of the ongoing Brexit-driven headlines, consumers both need and want to get on with their lives, and that the motivations and aspirations to move home are still, for the most part, in evidence."

To read the full NMI report, click here.

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