Mortgage approvals to home buyers pick up ahead of ‘Brexit showdown’

The number of mortgages approved to home buyers increased in June – sitting just below a two-year high seen in April, figures from a trade association show.

Some 42,653 approvals for house purchase were recorded – the highest monthly total since 42,792 approvals two months beforehand, figures from UK Finance show.

April’s figure was the highest since February 2017.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club said mortgage approvals at 42,653 in June were above the 38,000 to 40,000 range that largely held from the start of 2018 through to the early months of 2019.

But they are still around a fifth (19.2%) below the long-run average seen between 1997 and 2019, he said.

Mr Archer said: “The avoidance of a ‘no deal’ Brexit at the end of March seems to have provided some help to housing market activity through easing some of the immediate uncertainty and concerns.

“However, we suspect that the boost to the housing market from the avoidance of a disruptive Brexit at the end of March has been relatively limited.”

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics said: “We expect the gradual upward trend in mortgage lending to be maintained in the second half of this year, despite the looming Brexit showdown.”

The outstanding level of credit card borrowing increased by 4% in the 12 months to June.

UK Finance said repayments have been in line with spending “showing that consumers are managing their finances effectively overall”.

Borrowing through personal loans was 2.4% lower than the same month a year ago, while overdraft borrowing was 1.3% higher.

Deposits in instant access accounts were 2.5% higher than a year ago, reflecting consumers’ preference to keep cash close to hand amid ongoing economic uncertainty, UK Finance said.

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