Optimism that borrowers can cope with return to normal interest rates

10th December 2013

The Council of Mortgage Lenders is predicting gross mortgage lending will reach £195bn from an estimated £170bn this year. In 2015 it expects gross lending to reach £206bn. Net advances are likely to be £10bn this year, £15bn next year and £20bn in 2015. It also believes that the number of mortgages 2.5% or more in arrears this year is likely to stay stable at around 150,000 rising to 160,000 in 2015. It suggests repossessions will fall from 30,000 this year to 28,000 next year before returning to 30,000 in 2015.

In terms of specific features currently influencing the mortgage market, the CML suggests that the volumes of business written under the new Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme may be relatively modest.

The CML says that its forecasting horizon covers a period when the Bank of England may consider increasing interest rates. While this is likely to have a greater impact from 2016, the benign period of falling arrears and possessions may be coming to an end – although most households will cope with the transition to more normal interest rates.

CML chief economist Bob Pannell says: “Gross mortgage lending climbs above £190 billion next year, its highest level since 2008. While this is largely on the back of the continuing revival in housing market activity, we also expect to see a meaningful turn-round in remortgage activity.

“Despite a strong pick-up in gross mortgage lending, we have pencilled in relatively modest net lending figures – £15 billion in 2014 and £20 billion in 2015. While this would mark a climb out of the sub-£10 billion doldrums, where the market has languished since the credit crunch, it does nevertheless represent a rather muted position. This reflects, among other things, our view that some households will use the relatively benign economic conditions to prioritise debt repayments, ahead of medium-term interest rate rises.

“We think there are good grounds to be optimistic that the vast majority of households will cope with a slow but certain transition to more normal interest rates. This seems to be the game-plan which the Bank of England has in mind, but presumes (as we do) that the UK avoids a destabilising housing boom over the next few years.”


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