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UK mortgage approvals at their highest since 2009

By Philip Smith

Figures show more are borrowing to buy a home, indicating a rise in consumer confidence

Mortgage approval figures suggest that the UK housing market may be showing signs of revival.

UK Finance, which represents more than 250 firms across the banking and finance industry, said the number of mortgages approved last year was the highest in a decade.

Nearly 982,000 mortgages were approved by the main high street banks during 2019, a rise of 7.4 per cent on 2018. The figure was the highest since 2009, when there were nearly 987,000 home loans approved.

The increase is down in part to low interest rates, suggests Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. "The jump in mortgage approvals in December likely solely reflects the stimulus provided by the sharp fall in mortgage rates in the second half of last year.”

According to the Bank of England, the housing market is closely linked to consumer spending, which is a driver for overall economic growth.

House prices rose by an average of 4 per cent last year, according to the Halifax House Price Index, with demand for homes once again rising, those price increases could soon escalate.

It will be seen as a further fillip for the UK’s post-Brexit economy.

The Bank of England is to review its base rate later this week. Some had been expecting that a cut to stimulate the economy. After some positive economic indicators few now think the current rate of 0.5 per cent will be changed.

FURTHER READING: UK Housing market poised for spring revival

FURTHER READING: Mortgage explained

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