Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB), comments:
“A successful year of mortgage lending was rounded off by a strong final quarter, which saw a 19% year-on-year increase in lending volumes. This drives home the progress made throughout the rest of the year: overall, annual mortgage lending was up 11% on 2012. The greater availability of mortgage products and historic low rates has helped to renew consumer confidence, propelling aspiring owners into a great starting position in 2014.
“The resurgence of the first-time buyer market has played a particularly significant role in this recovery. Lending to first-time buyers was up in volume by 23% last year, with the fourth quarter seeing a year-on-year rise of 30%. This reflects improved accessibility to mortgage finance thanks to Help to Buy, and the return of 95% mortgage products to the market – giving those with smaller deposits a realistic hope of fighting their way onto the property ladder.
“Although 2014 has begun with mortgage lending on an upwards trajectory, challenges lie ahead. The market will have to cross the hurdle of the Mortgage Market Review in April as well as keeping a handle on rising house prices. But with the Bank of England carefully monitoring interest rates, we look in good shape to take on these challenges. Consumers can be reassured by the prospect that a healthier and more affordable mortgage market is here to stay.”