UK mortgage approvals rise as lenders cut interest rates

January 05, 2024
Mortgage approvals rose in Britain in November as lenders cut interest rates, and credit card borrowing doubled to 1 billion pounds ($1.27 billion). Net mortgage approvals for home purchases rose to 50,100 in November from 47,900 in October, the Bank of England said. This was the highest level since June and exceeded economists' expectations for a rise of 48,800 jobs. The number of debt restructuring approvals increased from 24,000 to 27,000. The ‘effective’ interest rate – the actual interest paid – on newly drawn mortgages rose by 9 basis points (bps) to 5.34% in November. However, the annual growth rate for net mortgage lending reached 0.3% in November, the lowest since records started in March 1994. It comes as lenders have been cutting mortgage rates in a battle to win customers amid expectations that the Bank of England will begin cutting borrowing costs this year. Emily Williams, director of research at Savills, said: “Buyers who do not have to move are continuing to hold off while the cost of debt remains high. “Looking ahead, there are encouraging signs for mortgaged buyers. Two and five year swap rates have fallen significantly in the last month, following December’s encouraging inflation figures. “Several lenders have already cut rates on mortgage products this week as a result, with two-year fixes now available at rates below 5%. HSBC’s two-year fixed rate for remortgages has dipped below 4.50% for the first time since early June last year, with the headline rate hitting 4.49%, for those with a 40% deposit. For those looking to fix longer term, HSBC is now offering a 10-year fixed rate deal starting from at 3.99%. Britain’s largest mortgage lender, Halifax, cut the price of its two-year fixed-rate remortgage from 5.64% to 4.81% on Tuesday. Leeds Building Society has made rate reductions across its mortgage range for both first-time buyers and those looking to renew their mortgage. The revised mortgage products include a 2-year fixed rate up to 75% loan-to-value (LTV) at 4.60%, and a 2-year fixed rate up to 95% LTV at 5.59%. The UK's average two-year fixed mortgage rate was 5.92% on Wednesday, down from 5.93% the day before, according to figures from Moneyfacts. It said the average five-year rate also dipped to 5.53%. The Bank of England figures also showed that net consumer credit borrowing rose to £2bn in November from £1.4bn in October, as people borrowed more on credit cards, with that borrowing doubling to £1bn.