Peter Rollings commenting in response to the latest figures from the CML
Tue 15 May 2012
"March's meteoric increase in lending was wholly artificial, driven by the stampede of first-time buyers hoping to beat the stamp duty deadline rather than any sustained loosening of lending criteria. In fact, the opposite is happening. After the peak in the mortgage market earlier in the year, we are facing the prospect of a trough as lenders tighten criteria and retreat from higher LTV lending - a factor that has taken its toll on buyer activity and house prices outside prime parts of London in the last month. Despite underlying buyer demand, concerns over the faltering economy have knocked lenders' confidence, while the Eurozone crisis has pushed up the cost of raising funds to lend, and this is likely to be reflected in the coming months' lending data.
"If nothing else, the burst of mortgage market activity highlights the importance of the stamp duty holiday to first-time buyers, and the governments folly in re-imposing such a financial burden for many new buyers. A vibrant first-time buyer market is the lifeblood of a healthy property market, and the sharp increase in activity in March acted as a catalyst, freeing up property chains and allowing home movers to take advantage also.
"There is clearly still strong demand from buyers looking to get onto the property ladder, and it is crucial that this section of the market is supported rather than hindered by stamp duty tax or overly stringent deposit requirements."