Mortgage approval figures 'volatile' in February says Bank of England

Mortgage approvals for both house purchase and re-mortgaging dipped below their recent averages in February, Bank of England figures show.

The Bank's Money and Credit report said: "Mortgage approvals continue to be volatile".

Some 63,910 mortgage approvals were made to home buyers in February, which was lower than the monthly average of 65,162 seen over the previous six months.

Re-mortgage approvals were also down, with 46,622 loans getting the go-ahead in February, compared with 49,133 loans on average over the previous six months.

Meanwhile, annual growth in consumer credit, which includes borrowing on credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts, picked up in February.

Consumer credit increased by 9.4% annually, compared with a 9.3% increase in January.

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: "This is another survey demonstrating the relatively volatile nature of the present housing market - up one month, down the next - as buyers and sellers come to terms with new market realities."

He continued: "Prices continue to be supported by low interest rates and shortage of supply, although we have found signs of improvement in listings as we approach the traditionally busier spring selling season."

The Bank's report was released as a separate survey from the Building Societies Association (BSA) found consumer sentiment about the housing market is negative for the fourth quarter in a row, with more people feeling negative than positive about buying a new home.

The research asks 2,000 people each quarter about whether they think now is a good time to buy a property or not.

The index turned negative for the first time since the financial crisis in June 2017 and has remained negative in September, December and now March, the BSA said.

Paul Broadhead, head of mortgage policy at the BSA said: "Whilst housing market activity is likely to remain muted for the remainder of 2018 there is good news for would-be home buyers as house prices start to cool in some places across the country. Mortgage finance remains readily available."