January has never been a particularly strong month for mortgage data and this year the drop has been exacerbated by the stamp duty holiday that ended in December and last month’s dire weather.
However, activity picked up towards the end of January and into February so we expect to see stronger figures from February on until they begin to tail off again in the second half of the year.
January’s figures shouldn’t dampen the spirits as the mortgage market has got off to a flyer compared to this time last year, with hundreds of new products hitting the market and enquiry levels rising dramatically.
Many people have put their lives on hold for two years and increasingly seem to have decided that now is the time to make that move, or hedge against future rate rises.
As competition has seeped slowly back into the market, lenders are being forced to look beyond the 60% Loan-To-Value and below market, which is now saturated. They are starting to venture into higher LTVs and are even returning tentatively to the buy-to-let arena in search of higher margins.
But let’s not be under any illusions here, the mortgage market, like the economy, is still in the very early stages of recovery and could be set off course by any number of external factors. But in the meantime, now is the best time in a long time to take advantage of some highly competitive products.