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Buy to let landlords added 84,000 rental properties to their portfolios in 2011, according to the latest figures from mortgage firms.
To put the market into perspective, at the peak of buy to let lending, 93,000 loans worth £12.7 billion were advanced in just three months between June and September 2007.
That compared to 69,100 loans in the last six months of 2011 worth £8 billion.
During the last quarter of 2011, 34,800 buy to let mortgages were advanced – and 15,600 (45%) were remortgages.
The number was fourth quarter of 2010 (26,300 loans worth £2.9 billion).
“The buy to let market continues to operate at relatively subdued levels, but it is clearly continuing to recover from its low point in 2009,” said the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the trade body for banks and building societies that compiled the figures.
The CML reckons buy to let mortgages add up to 13% of the total outstanding value of mortgages in the UK, and 11% of total gross mortgage lending in the last quarter of 2011.
CML director general Paul Smee said: “Buy to let lending continues to perform well. Demand for rented property remains high, so the rationale for buy to let remains strong, and there is little reason to foresee any change to this positive outlook for the sector.
“These figures do not suggest that buy to let is crowding out first-time buyers; more that it is performing a really important role within the overall housing market. The benefits of the availability of good quality, private rented housing should not be overlooked, especially as there are many households which need the flexibility and mobility that the private rented sector is well placed to provide.”
The arrears performance of buy to let loans is better than the owner-occupier market, but the repossession rate is higher, said the CML.
Buy to let properties accounted for 5,900 of the repossessions in 2011, up from 4,700 in 2010.
The three-month arrears rate was 1.98% for all mortgages at the end of December – broken down as 2.06% for owner-occupiers and 1.38% for buy to let borrowers (1.79% including receiver of rent cases).
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