'Mixed fortunes' for home buyers, says mortgage lending body

Home buyers are facing "mixed fortunes" according to a body which said mortgage lending fell to a nine-month low in February.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said an estimated £18.2 billion-worth of home loans were handed out in February - 8% lower than January's lending total of £19.8 billion.

The figure is also slightly up on the £18.1 billion lent in February last year.

February's estimated lending total is the lowest seen since May 2016 - just after a stamp duty increase for buy-to-let investors came into force.

The CML's senior economist Mohammad Jamei said first-time buyers and existing home owners looking to re-mortgage are driving the mortgage market.

By contrast, the number of existing home owners moving house and the demand for buy-to-let mortgages remains "weak", he said.

A lack of people putting their homes up for sale could also be an obstacle for aspiring buyers in the coming months, he warned.

A stamp duty hike for buy-to-let investors was imposed on April 1 2016, and estate agents previously reported seeing a rush of investors snapping up properties before the deadline. 

Mr Jamei said: "Mortgage lending is holding up well, but under the surface buyers face mixed fortunes.

"First-time buyers and customers who are re-mortgaging are driving total lending, while home movers and buy-to-let remain weak.

"The weakness in home movers means few properties are coming onto the market for sale, which is aggravating a supply demand imbalance that has characterised the market since late 2013.

"This looks set to continue at least over the next few months, posing an obstacle for would-be borrowers."

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