Financial News

  • 1 July 2014, 13:03

Mortgage Approvals Fall To 11-Month Low

UK mortgage approvals have dropped to their lowest level since June last year, according to the Bank of England (BoE).

It said 61,707 loans were agreed in May, down from the April figure of 62,806.

The May figure was a fifth below January's peak of 76,000.

Those loans totalled 15bn, which was also the lowest since June 2013.

New capping rules, known as the Mortgage Market Review (MMR), were brought in at the end of April to ensure borrowers have sufficient ability to increase repayments if rates rise.

Under MMR, lenders have been forced to increase their scrutiny of potential customers.

Applicants are asked detailed questions about their spending habits, such as gym fees, monthly expenditure on toiletries, and the ratio of fresh produce to other food types.

Would-be customers are also quizzed on what they consider to be essential and non-essential outgoings.

Meanwhile, the total amount of consumer credit continued to rise in May compared to April, up 13% to 740m.

But the net change in credit card lending dropped by more than half in May.

April's 428m new credit card lending plunged to 182m in May, possibly because people decided to clear outstanding debt ahead of applying for a mortgage.

On the weekend, homeowners were told to expect interest rates returning to their pre-recession levels within a decade.

In an exclusive interview with Sky News, BoE deputy governor Sir Charlie Bean, the Bank's longest-serving senior policy maker, said that this lower rate was only caused by a range of temporary factors.

Last week bank Governor Mark Carney suggested that even once borrowing costs rise, the "new normal" for them to settle at would be around 2.5% - significantly lower than the long-term average of 4-5%.

However Sir Charlie said that in the "long term", meaning beyond five or ten years, it could easily rise again towards 5% - the level traditionally considered "neutral".

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