Mortgage approvals to home buyers dip in August, Bank of England figures show

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The number of mortgage approvals for home buyers dipped month-on-month in August according to Bank of England figures - as experts said ultra-cheap home loans may not be around for long.

Some 66,580 home loans for house purchase got the go-ahead, compared with 68,452 approvals in July.

The Bank said mortgage approvals remain broadly in line with recent averages.

The Bank's Money and Credit report also showed consumer credit increased by 9.8% annually, which was the same growth rate recorded in July and slightly lower than a 10% annual increase in June.

Concerns have been raised in recent months that some households could be at risk of over-stretching their borrowing on credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts - particularly if interest rates start to climb.

Citizens Advice said its previous research suggested that one in five people struggling with credit card debts had their credit limit raised without them requesting it. It said regulators need to make sure people are not being offered unaffordable debt.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "Our evidence shows that people who are unable to pay off their credit card debts are having their credit limit raised without them requesting it - which risks pushing them further into debt.

"It's essential that lenders carry out thorough affordability checks before giving people more credit so that borrowers aren't led deeper and deeper into debt...

"The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) should step in to protect borrowers by banning credit card companies from automatically raising credit card limits and making lenders support customers who are starting to struggle."

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said of the mortgage lending figures: "Lending held up in August, down slightly on the previous month but to an extent this reflects the quieter summer period.

"Lenders remain keen to lend and offer competitively-priced products, with several two-year fixes still available around 2%."

But he continued: "However, really cheap deals are not around for long."

Mr Harris said that swap rates, which lenders use to price their loans, have increased in the past couple of weeks on the back of suggestions from the Bank of England that interest rates could start edging upwards.

Mr Harris said this may be reflected in mortgage pricing going forward "but at the moment lenders are keen to attract business".

Jeremy Duncombe, director of Legal and General Mortgage Club, said: "Although there has been a slight dip in mortgage approvals, in the face of ongoing uncertainty around the Brexit negations, lending figures continue to be robust, highlighting the ongoing strength of the mortgage market.

"This is clearly the result of continuing high demand for housing across the UK, but also savvy borrowers who are looking to secure a good deal on their mortgage by fixing their rates now, before a likely near-term rise in the base rate."