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Massive Slump in buy to let lending - mortgage figures

UK Finance has published its housing and mortgage market forecasts for 2024 and 2025 together with projections for 2023 full year numbers.

Key figures for 2023 - In 2023, higher interest rates and household costs limited access to mortgage credit. Affordability constraints have also dampened external remortgaging activity, although there was growth in the internal product transfer market, where affordability tests are not required. Cost of living and interest rate pressures also pushed more customers into arrears, which were up on the historically low number in 2022, although the total represents only around one per cent of total outstanding mortgages in the UK.




Year on year change

Gross Lending

£226 billion

-28 per cent

Lending for house purchase

£130 billion

-23 per cent

External remortgaging

£65 billion

-21 per cent

Internal product transfer

£219 billion

+11 per cent

New buy to let purchase lending

£8 billion

-53 per cent



+30 per cent



+13 per cent

2024 forecast figures - UK Finance says the outlook for 2024 is one of continuing challenges in the mortgage market; however, the main pressures on affordability look to be peaking now.  Whilst it will take some time for the pressure on household finances to recede, we expect things to begin to look up in 2025.  Meanwhile, prudent lending standards and extensive lender forbearance will minimise the number of customers who struggle with their mortgage payments through this period.

UK Finance is forecasting the following for 2024:

- Gross lending to fall by a further five per cent to £215 billion;

- Lending for house purchase to fall by a further eight per cent to £120 billion;

- External remortgaging activity to fall by a further eight per cent to £60 billion;

- Internal product transfers to fall by eight per cent to £202 billion;

- Buy-to-let purchase lending to fall by a further 13 per cent to £7 billion;

- Arrears to increase to 128,800 cases by the end of 2024;

- Possessions to increase by 16 per cent to 5,100 – this would still see possessions lower than in any year from 2019 all the way back to 1981, when the mortgage market was a little over half its current size.

James Tatch, Head of Analytics at UK Finance, says: “2023 was a challenging year for both prospective and existing mortgage borrowers, facing affordability pressures from higher interest rates and the increased cost-of-living, as well as house prices still at elevated levels relative to income. In the face of these challenges, borrowing for house purchase has been constrained. At the same time most existing customers looking to refinance their loans chose to take a Product Transfer with their current lender, where affordability tests are not required.

"With these pressures unlikely to ease significantly in the short term, we expect lending to remain weak in 2024, with a gradual improvement in affordability reflected in a modest increase in activity levels in 2025.

"The challenging environment has also pushed more households into mortgage arrears. However, the rigorous affordability tests in place since 2014 are now working to ensure that the vast majority of customers can still afford their mortgage payments even with the increased pressure on their finances. Although we forecast more customers will encounter arrears next year, we expect numbers to peak well below levels seen previously.

"As always, any customers who do find themselves in difficulty should speak to their lender at an early stage, as the industry continues to provide help to anyone struggling with a range of tailored support options."

Market overview: a sharp contraction following post-lockdown strength - Amidst the ongoing squeeze on household finances, 2023 was, as expected, a difficult year for mortgage customers.

For those looking to enter or move in the housing market, the higher cost-of-living and interest rate rises seen since the start of 2022 significantly raised the bar for consumers to pass affordability tests for mortgages. This led to a fall in lending for house purchase in 2023 of some 23 per cent, to £130 billion. In 2024, despite some easing in cost pressures, the level of prices and interest rates will continue to weigh heavily, and we forecast house purchase lending will fall by a more modest eight percent to £120 billion.

The same factors have also acted as a brake on activity in the external remortgage market, which fell by 21 per cent in 2023 to £65 billion. However, with lenders competing to retain customers against a backdrop of weak new lending volumes, more customers took out a new Product Transfer (PT) deal with their existing lender, which are not subject to affordability tests. 

The PT market grew by 11 per cent in 2023 to £219 billion. Next year, UK Finance anticipates that both external remortgaging and PTs will fall away slightly, following a peak in maturing two-year fixed rate deals in 2023.

Although the outlook for next year is for a modest further contraction, the organisation sees conditions beginning to improve in the following year. By 2025, the combination of wage growth, softer house prices and inflation and interest rates falling back somewhat will see a gradual recovery in lending activity as affordability improves.

Buy-to-let activity constrained on multiple fronts - Cost and rate pressures have also depressed buy-to-let lending, but this market has also faced taxation and regulatory headwinds through 2023. 

The cumulative effect of these factors has meant that BTL lending has experienced a sharper contraction than the residential market. New BTL house purchase lending fell by 53 per cent in 2023, and remortgaging by 47 per cent. 

In the coming year, UK Finance forecasts a smaller contraction but the greater challenges for BTL investors remain, particularly for smaller-scale landlords who are less able to spread costs across their portfolios.

Arrears increase but set to peak well below previous cycles - UK Finance says: “In line with our previous forecasts the pressure on household finances, which had built through 2022, began to feed through into an increase in mortgage arrears by the end of that year. This continued through 2023 and, by the end of the year, reached an estimated 105,600 cases with arrears of over 2.5 per cent of the outstanding mortgage balance – an increase of 30 per cent compared with December 2022. 

“Next year, although no significant increase in Bank Rate is expected, the existing pressure on payments will persist, and we forecast arrears will rise to 128,800 by the end of 2024. In 2025, we predict arrears will rise more modestly to 137,800 cases, as the pressure on mortgage payments begins to recede.”

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  • icon

    They should talk to the Mortgage Lender who, according to another article on here, takes the opposite view. 🤔

  • icon

    There are 24 reasons why buy to let lending is declining.


    46 reasons, the sum of 21 plus 24 plus Michael Gove!


    Surely Robert our friend Gove is worth more than one?


    Gove is a 'Number 2' surely?

  • Peter Why Do I Bother

    Most will either be reducing the mortgage borrowings or getting out.

  • icon

    Yes, high interest rates, high cost of living, endless additional regulation and Compliance costs, higher taxes, Expensive licensing Schemes, Additional, Selective and Mandatory, The Renters Reform Bill removing Section 21 to lumber us with a Sitting Tenant in effect loosing control of the property that you are totally responsible for physically and financially.
    I can’t understand why all this didn’t encourage us to buy more, not.


    You forgot mentally responsible too!

  • icon

    One sad repercussion of the renter's reform bill is that millions of PRS landlords who rented out their mortgaged property as a substitute pension will no longer have sufficient income and may have to rely on a government benefit.

    Peter Why Do I Bother

    Excellent Point. I fall into this, at least working abroad and out of the tax system I can stash money at a faster rate than being in the UK. Otherwise I would be knackered...

  • icon

    Peter ginger- group
    It may pay to pay your ni stamp because you could find accessing your state pension, difficult. Further its correct to say that the economy is suffering due to economically unfixable properties not being purchased and done up by the PRS sector and prs landlords exiting.
    Legal and general are offering 1 bed flats for rent in Cardiff from £1100 per month. 1 bedroom, 1 toilet and bathroom and 1 kitchen diner lounge. 3 rooms, tiny ! No doubt service charge and council tax on top.

    Peter Why Do I Bother

    Hi Edwin,

    I do continue to pay the NI stamp and will get full pension but my outside investments have been into property as work pensions have been shagged, however as I have mentioned elsewhere on here I have had two properties go rogue and cost me 3 years profit. This money was normally reinvested into paying down debt or buying further properties.

    Out of 11 properties I owe just under 50% so plenty of equity but certainly not selling to give this shower a chunk of my profit that I risked after I had paid tax on it. I may continue to rent the two out which are now being refurbished or put them as a test through Air BnB, either way I think once I do reach retirement I may just remortgage the profit out of them and let my daughters take over the running of them (currently in training for this).

  • David Hollands

    50% of landlord have now sold up.
    this is not good for the landlords or the tenants.
    The result is a shortage of rental properties and sky high rents for tenants.
    Tax relief for mortgage interest need to be brought back to save whats left of the PBL market.!!


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