16:01 PM, 4th May 2012, About 12 years ago
Buy to let lending was the only bright point in a year when mortgage lending slumped to the lowest levels for almost 40 years, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).
Landlord loans were up 40% in the year with advances of £14.1 billion against £10 billion a year earlier, says the CML annual report for 2011.
However, buy to let lending is still hugely down on the £45 billion handed to landlords at the height of the property bubble in 2007.
CML chairman Martijn van der Jeijden pointed out that government welfare reforms that include paying housing benefit to tenants rather than landlords discourages lenders from agreeing loans on properties for housing tenants receiving housing allowances.
He also attacks the European Commission as misguided for trying to impose a single mortgage market across Europe. Under the directive, buy-to-let mortgages would be underwritten like ordinary residential mortgages and assessed on the borrower’s income, not on rents.
The CML is lobbying for buy-to-let lending to stay outside of mortgage regulation.
The CML – the trade body for all the UK’s major bank and building society mortgage lenders – revealed 124,000 property investment loans were completed in 2011, which is a massive 32% surge from 2010 levels.
Mortgage lending to homeowners was down. The CML report disclosed 508,000 loans for buying a home were advanced in 2011, excluding buy to let – that figure is down from 538,000 in 2010 and the lowest figure since 1974.
Overall, 870,000 properties were sold including buy to let and cash purchases.
Lending to first time buyers was down 2%, but remortgaging was up 18% to £46.7 billion.
The future for homeowners looks bleak.
Van der Jeijden predicts government support for borrowers in difficulty will put ‘upward pressure on mortgage arrears and repossessions in 2012 and beyond’.
He also slammed ‘less helpful’ government housing and mortgage policies that he feels will increase repossessions.