The Council of Mortgage Lenders has estimated that in December gross mortgage lending was £19.9 billion, some 23% higher than December 2014.
This means that for 2015 as a whole, the estimated total is £220.3 billion, representing an 8% increase on the figure for 2014. This is also the highest gross lending figure since 2008.
These figures show a positive end to a good year for mortgage lending which was slightly ahead of our own expectations.
The real question now is whether 2016 can build on the gains made and push towards the £230 billion mark in a market constrained by a lack of property. Whilst we expect remortgage activity to strengthen further over the course of the year there is now a big question as to whether changes in the tax treatment of Buy To Let will have a negative effect.
What is pleasing is that although there are still some undoubted issues around affordability, lenders are starting to engage in areas like interest only, lending to older borrowers and to the self-employed and contractors. Whilst rates will remain low for the foreseeable future, lending will only continue to increase if lenders open up the pool of those eligible to borrow in a sensible manner.
With new lenders coming into the market, competition for business will become fierce once more this year.