Market activity slows as ‘cost of living squeeze shrinks the pool of buyers’

1-6-2022

The number of UK mortgages approved dropped to below 66,000 in April, as borrowing costs continue to rise.

According to the Bank of England’s (BoE’s) Money and Credit statistics, approvals for new home loans totalled 65,974 in April, the lowest in almost two years, while the remortgage average was 49,500.

Property purchase approvals have steadily declined since the start of the year, dropping from 73,220 in January, 70,240 in February and 69,531 in March.

April’s remortgage approvals were down on the 48,681 seen in March.

The figures point to a slowdown in the property market, which to date has managed to shake off the pandemic and recession to reach record prices.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, commented: “This latest reduction confirms what we have been seeing at the sharp end over the past few months – successive monthly increases in the cost of living as well as interest rates are compromising confidence to take on additional debt and having an inevitable knock-on effect on price growth.

“The continuing shortage of houses in particular means that we’re unlikely to see significant changes in prices but certainly there is less competition, which is also resulting in more time being taken to exchange contracts.”

Hina Bhudia, Partner, Knight Frank Finance, said: “Activity among purchasers is ebbing as the cost of living squeeze shrinks the pool of buyers. Rates on certain products have doubled in the past twelve months and there is a real sense of urgency among many borrowers who sense they must act soon or reassess what they can afford.

“Demand to remortgage remains very strong as borrowers seek to beat rising interest rates. Certain lenders allow you to book rates up to nine months in advance, so thousands of borrowers are bringing forward decisions that in normal circumstances would have been put off. Lenders are struggling to stay on top of the flow of new applications and are withdrawing and repricing product lines to maintain service levels”

Jason Tebb, Chief Executive Officer of OnTheMarket.com, added: “Net borrowing of mortgage debt by individuals decreased in April, while mortgage approvals, an indicator of future borrowing, also fell compared with the previous month and are slightly below the 12-month pre-pandemic average.

“This suggests that the market is rebalancing, particularly when combined with rising numbers of new instructions, although it will take time before this becomes more prevalent.

“The ‘new normal’, an elevated version of the pre-pandemic market, continues, along with early signs of a move to a more nuanced and rebalanced sector. A ‘one size fits all’ picture is yet to emerge as it’s not the same in every region, with those buyers needing to move still determined to get on with it.”

Keep up to date on all of our latest news!