18:52 PM, 15th March 2011, About 11 years ago
The pent up demand for buying and letting homes is reflected in some new figures that act as barometers for the housing market.
Countrywide, one of the country’s largest letting agents, had 19,000 new home hunters sign on as tenants during February – up 11% compared with February last year but a slight dip on January’s registrations.
The firm also reported their 650 mortgage consultants dealt with a 40% increase in applications and estate agents had a 40% increase in property viewings.
Overall, agreed property sales were up 47% across Countrywide’s 1,300 offices, but were still slightly lower than February last year (4%).
The figures were backed by the National Mortgage Index, revealing mortgage applications rose by 39% from January to February.
The number of people applying for mortgages increased by 10% from February 2010.
Most applications were for fixed rate mortgages (90%) with an average loan of £123,508 and average loan-to-value of 71.4%.
The average age of a mortgage applicant was 37 years old.
Grenville Turner, chief executive of Countrywide, said: “We are beginning to see some early signs of improvement in the property market, but whether this can be sustained against a backcloth of challenging economic conditions is difficult to determine.
“The reintroduction of competitive mortgage products is the key to turn the increase in buyer activity we’ve seen into house sales. Gathering a deposit remains a big hurdle for many would-be buyers.
“With four of the most popular mortgages applied for in February requiring a 10% deposit, this shows the level of demand for these types of mortgages and highlights the issue of affordability. With more mortgages available requiring only a 10% deposit, there are positive signs of increased lender appetite.”
The Financial Services Authority has also published mortgage lending figures for the last three months of 2010.
New mortgages added up to £37bn, 10% lower than in the previous quarter and 11% down on the amount advanced in the last quarter of 2009. Almost all loans (98%) were for mortgages at less than 90% loan-to-value of homes for the third quarter in a row.
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