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BTL mortgage activity dips as rules get tougher

Activity in the buy-to-let mortgage market took a dip in November, owed in part to the base rate rise and tougher lending conditions which has forced some private landlords to take stock of their existing position, and may explain why some property investors are planning to reduce the number of properties in their portfolio

Data from UK Finance shows that the number of BTL house purchase approvals fell to 6,500 in November, down 1.5% year-on-year. By value this was £0.9bn of lending in the month, the same as the corresponding month last year.

There were 13,500 new BTL remortgages in November, some 3.6% fewer than in the same month a year earlier. By value this was £2.1bn of lending in the month, down 4.5% year-on-year.

Paul Smee, head of Mortgages at UK Finance, said: “Declines in buy-to-let lending reflect the changing regulatory and fiscal environment for landlord businesses, where some landlords might be inclined to reappraise the viability of their portfolios.”

Despite the drop in buy-to-let mortgage activity, the data shows that the overall level of mortgage lending continued to pick up pace in November, with the number of mortgages taken out by first-time buyers, home movers and those remortgaging up by around 13% year-on-year.

Jonathan Sealey, CEO at Hope Capital, commented: “Confirmation of activity in November today shows an upbeat end to the year.  Negativity that arose from the public’s nervousness around Brexit negotiations appears to have abated, and espite a rise in interest rates there are still plenty of good deals on offer.  As the figures bear out, people are now taking advantage. 

“Although buy-to-let has suffered under new regulations, the opportunities are still there for specialist lenders to provide funding as landlords look to improve their housing stock, rather than increase their portfolios.” 

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