Mortgage approvals hit six-month high has the market come alive?

31st January 2024

Mortgage approvals hit six-month high has the market come alive?

The number of mortgage approvals hit a six-month high in December as falling mortgage pricing and renewed buyer confidence “breathed new life” into the property market.

Bank of England data shows there were 50,459 mortgage approvals for home purchases in December.

The figure was up 2.3% on a monthly basis and rose 25.6% annually.

It was the third consecutive monthly increase and the highest level since June 2023.

Charlotte Nixon, mortgage expert at wealth manager Quilter, highlighted that the numbers are still relatively modest, reflecting ongoing caution among both borrowers and lenders due to economic uncertainties like job security.

The figures also showed that consumer credit borrowing dropped while people saved more.

Nixon added: “These figures reflect a cautious and conservative approach by individuals in managing their finances during the cost of living crisis but some life does seem to be being breathed back into the housing market. The focus does now seem to be on reducing debts, saving more, and being careful about taking on new financial obligations.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said the increase in buying and selling activity noticed in early January clearly started several months earlier, following the falls in inflation.

He added: "These mortgage approvals offer a comprehensive snapshot as they cover not just the data of individual lenders but the wider marketplace and are a reliable indicator of future activity. 

"As a result, the market improvement is likely to be sustained despite the recent uptick in the cost of living and rise in stock levels which is keeping a lid on prices."