BBA figures show steadier mortgage market

Approvals for remortgaging and equity release have also fallen.

Gross mortgage borrowing stood at £10.6bn in September, 7% higher than the same month last year.

The BBA said a less buoyant housing market is no bad thing. Richard Woolhouse, chief economist at the BBA, said: “A year ago there were many of us who were concerned by the heady pace of property price rises.

“Today’s figures suggest we are now experiencing a steadier housing market and that’s no bad thing.”

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors, agrees. Commenting he said: “Looking ahead, the road looks steady. We are still a way off where we should be, but there are reasons to be optimistic.

“First-time buyers are the backbone of the UK’s mortgage market and the foundation on which the mortgage market’s post-recession recovery has been built.

“But after an extended period of flat wages, low interest rates and high inflation, many of them are still struggling to save for a deposit.”

Mortgage stock is still 1.5% higher than September last year.

Mark Harris, chief executive of SPF Private Clients, said: “While the market may be taking a breath, now is a very good time indeed to get a mortgage.

“The mortgage market review slowed applications down and lenders are playing catch-up before the end of the year. They also want to create a strong pipeline for 2015.

“Swap rates are very low and are driving record low fixed-rate mortgages. Margins are tightening as lenders compete for business, preferring to cut rates rather than ease criteria and offer more flexible underwriting.

“Some borrowers will therefore still find it tough to get a mortgage, particularly if they require interest only, are an older borrower or are self-employed.”

Sexton stated that Help to Buy is still crucial for the market.

He added: “Help to Buy has stirred new vigour into much of the dormant property market, waking up many regions from housing market hibernation.

“We are now seeing areas of the country previously forgotten in the property market recovery experiencing a surge in demand, largely thanks to Help to Buy.

“Young, low income and first time buyers are now looking for first homes across the country, taking advantage of lower house prices in much of the UK.”