Buy-to-let lending hits highest level since stamp duty surge

There was a significant rise in the amount buy-to-let landlords borrowed to invest in property before the introduction of new affordability tests brought in at the start of this month ahead of changes to tax relief from April this year, new figures show.Landlords borrowed £3.2bn in November 2016, up 10% month-on-month, but down 9% year-on-year, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said.

In total, 21,000 buy-to-let loans were issued in total, up 13% compared to October but down 10% compared to November 2015.Gross buy-to-let lending in November was the highest monthly level since the stamp duty changes on second properties introduced last April. Over two thirds of buy-to-let loans were remortgages rather than house purchase.“Buy-to-let lending, driven by remortgage activity, saw its strongest monthly lending level since the stamp duty changes on second properties introduced last April,” said Paul Smee, director general of the CML.“Despite the recent increase in buy-to-let lending, the CML predict that lending levels will slow, owed in part to changes to the existing rules that permit landlords to offset all of their mortgage interest against tax from April 2017.“We expect buy-to-let lending levels in both 2016 and 2017 to prove lower than their 2015 recent peak as further tax changes take effect,” Smee added. Additional data from the CML reveals that homeowners borrowed £11bn for house purchase, up 5% month-on-month and 2% year-on-year. They took out 60,800 loans, up 5% on October and up 0.2% on November 2015.First-time buyers borrowed £4.7bn, up 4% on October and 9% on November last year. This equated to 30,100 loans, up 5% month-on-month and 8% year-on-year.Home movers borrowed £6.3bn, up 7% on a month ago but down 5% compared to a year ago. This represented 30,700 loans, up 6% month-on-month but down 6% on November 2015.Remortgage activity totaled £5.8bn, down 5% on October but up 14% compared to a year ago. This came to 34,700 loans, unchanged month-on-month but up 13% compared to a year ago. Smee commented: “November lending reflected stable market conditions. Overall, 2016 did not match recent years in terms of house purchase lending growth, but lending remained resilient through regulatory and political change and aspirations for home-ownership remain strong in the UK. “Our forecasts for 2017 may be less bullish than a year ago, as economic uncertainty weighs on the market, but we still predict 1.2m transactions and a slight increase in gross lending to £248bn.”