The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that gross mortgage lending reached £19.9 billion in December. This is 3% lower than November (£20.5 billion), but 23% higher than December 2014 (£16.2 billion). This brings the estimated total for the year to £220.3 billion, an 8% increase on 2014’s £203.3 billion and the highest annual gross lending figure since 2008.
Gross mortgage lending for the fourth quarter of 2015 was therefore an estimated £62.3 billion. This is a 1% increase on the third quarter and a 23% increase on the fourth quarter of 2014.
Commenting on market conditions in this month’s market commentary, CML economist Mohammad Jamei observes:
Lending ended the year stronger than it started, with our estimate of nearly £20 billion lent in December. This brings total lending to just over £220 billion for 2015 as a whole, and slightly higher than we had anticipated. The low inflation environment, along with real wage growth, an improving labour market and competitive mortgage deals have all helped to underpin demand.
Having said this, the upside potential looks limited over the near-term, as the supply of existing and new properties on the market remains weak, and affordability pressures weigh on activity. There is an added element of uncertainty as we wait to see the impact of tax changes on the buy-to-let sector.