First-time buyers driving lending momentum in 'lopsided' housing market

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The housing market is expected to remain "lopsided" in the coming months, with first-time buyers among those driving momentum amid subdued buy-to-let and home-moving activity, according to banks and building societies.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said buy-to-let lending for house purchase was up by a third (33.3%) year on year, with £800 million-worth of loans handed out for this purpose in April.

However, a stamp duty hike was introduced for this sector on April 1 2016 and since then there have been signs of subdued activity.

The CML said: "The number of loans for buy-to-let house purchase advanced in April remained low compared to activity seen before the change on stamp duty on second properties introduced in April last year." 

First-time buyers borrowed £4.1 billion in total in April, up by 8% on the same month in 2016. Home-movers borrowed £5.5 billion, down 11% on March but up by 28% year on year.  

Paul Smee, director-general of the CML, said: "April comparisons are distorted by the weakness last year following the stamp duty changes, and the normal seasonal lending surge in March. But the seasonally-adjusted picture shows lending relatively unchanged month on month across all lending segments.

"Heading into the summer months, we expect the market to remain slightly lopsided. Buy-to-let and home-movers may well remain subdued, as they have been for the last six months. But both first-time buyer and re-mortgage lending should maintain momentum on the coat-tails of the attractive deals available."