London FTB numbers up 1.6% in Q1 2019

Despite economic uncertainty during a time where house prices in the capital are stagnating, the number of first-time buyer (FTB) mortgage completions in the first quarter of 2019 was up 1.6 per cent on Q1 2018, reaching 9,410.

While FTB figures saw positive growth, the data from today’s UK Finance Regional Mortgage Trends update revealed there were 5,980 new homemover mortgages completed in London in the quarter, 3.7 per cent fewer than in the same quarter last year.

The downwards trend in the capital continued into the remortgage market, with 14,170 new homeowner remortgages completed in London in the first quarter of 2019, down 1.3 per cent when compared to Q1 2018. The negative figure from Q1 2019 follows a period of strong growth in remortgaging in London during 2018.

It was not just London that saw an increase in the number of FTBs in Q1 2019, as the number of first-time homeowners also increased in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with the numbers rising to 2,440 (+11.4 per cent), 6,760 (+4.5 per cent) and 3,450 (+1.2 per cent) respectively on Q1 2018.

Furthermore, homemover mortgage completion numbers were up in Scotland and Wales, with the figures rising to 6,620 and 3,140, highlighting year-on-year growth of 6.6 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively. However, the number of homemover mortgage completions in Northern Ireland was down 0.7 per cent in the quarter, falling to 1,490. Despite the drop, the fall is not as dramatic as the one seen in London.

While homemover mortgage completions were down in Northern Ireland, the number of homeowner remortgage completions increased by a staggering 24.8 per cent, when compared to the same period last year, rising to 2,820. According to UK Finance, this is the highest level of remortgaging in Northern Ireland since Q1 2009, when 3,280 remortgages were completed.

Scotland’s remortgage market reported positive growth in the quarter, with the rise not too far off that seen in Northern Ireland. There were 9,670 new homeowner remortgages completed in Scotland in Q1 2019, 18.8 per cent more than in the same quarter in 2018. This is the highest volume of remortgaging in Scotland in a decade, when 9,850 remortgages were completed in the third quarter of 2009.
However, remortgaging activity fell in Wales, with 4,810 new deals completed in the first quarter of 2019, 0.2 per cent fewer than in the same quarter in 2018. This result comes following a period of strong growth in remortgaging in Wales during 2018.

Commenting on the figures, Vida Homeloans director of sales Louisa Sedgwick said: “Encouragingly, we have seen the highest number of first-time buyers get on the property ladder in the last ten years. At a time when millennials are facing significant affordability restrictions brokers have been vital in supporting and enabling these new buyers to get that longed for first home. However we are seeing this happening later, as the average age of a first-time buyer in London is currently 33 and 31 in Scotland.

“Lenders have also worked hard with brokers to provide new and innovative solutions that supports first time buyers who would ordinarily be turned away by high street lenders. Whether that be recognising the role the Bank of Mum and Dad plays or government schemes such as Help to Buy and Shared Ownership. As an industry, we must continue to support driving generation rent into generation buy.”

Also commenting, Trussle mortgage expert Dilpreet Bhagrath added: "While the slight uptick in house prices in the year to March, from 1.0% to 1.4%, may bring some good news to those currently hoping to sell their property; it’s clear that the overall slowdown since mid-2016 continues to keep growth fairly subdued.”

“It’s also interesting to see that London remains to have the lowest annual house price growth, with house prices falling by 1.9% over the year since March 2018. While this may not be ideal for current sellers, this fall provides some hope for those looking to buy, especially for first-time buyers who are looking to step a foot on the property ladder.”

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