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UK lenders approve fewer mortgages in sign of new housing slowdown

Published 01/06/2023, 10:20
Updated 01/06/2023, 10:25
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Painted houses are seen in London, Britain, March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

By William Schomberg

LONDON (Reuters) - British lenders approved fewer loans for house purchases in April than in March and the value of new mortgage lending also dropped, according to Bank of England data that added to signs of a fresh slowdown in the housing market.

Lenders gave the green light to 48,690 new mortgages in April, down from 51,488 in March and below all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.

The BoE said net mortgage lending to individuals was zero in March and that there were 1.384 billion pounds ($1.75 billion) of net repayments in April, representing the weakest net lending on record excluding the COVID-19 pandemic, as gross lending grew at the weakest pace since July 2021.

The housing market recovered somewhat early this year after weakening at the end of 2022 following a jump in mortgage rates triggered by former Prime Minister Liz Truss's "mini-budget".

However, many economists expect a fall in house prices this year as the BoE's increases in borrowing costs filter through into higher mortgage costs.

Data published earlier on Thursday by mortgage lender Nationwide showed house prices edged down by 0.1% in May from April and fell by the most in annual terms since 2009.

Further pressure on the housing market is now forecast after a smaller-than-expected decline in inflation figures last week prompted a fresh rise in bond yields and prompted some lenders to rein in or reprice mortgage offers.

The BoE data on Thursday showed the annual rate of growth in consumer borrowing - a gauge of households' appetite for spending - held at 7.7%, the joint-highest pace since November 2018.

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