Buy-to-let growth slowing down, says CML

At the end of 2004 there were an estimated 526,200 buy-to-let mortgages worth £52.2 billion, a 34% increase in value over the previous year. Buy-to-let lending continues to account for 6% of total outstanding residential mortgage lending.

New lending in the second half of 2004 was an estimated £9.8 billion, 18% lower than the £12 billion in the first half of the year, and 16% lower than the £11.6 billion in the second half of 2003. However, at £21.8 billion, total residential investment lending for 2004 as a whole was still 14% up on 2003.

The typical maximum percentage advance remained 80% and lenders continued to require rental income to exceed mortgage payments by an average 30%, the same as in the first half of the year. Arrears in the buy-to-let sector remain lower than for mortgages in general (0.63% of buy-to-let loans are in arrears of three months or more, against 0.8% of all mortgages), but have increased more than those on mortgages in general. This probably reflects the additional pressures on landlords from variable rental yields, on top of the general pressures from rising interest rates felt by mortgage holders as a whole.

Commenting on the latest survey, CML Senior Policy Adviser Andrew Heywood said:

"As the housing market boom gradually subsides, it is no surprise that growth in buy-to-let lending is slowing down. Our survey suggests that buy-to-let investors are largely holding on to their existing portfolios, but simply making fewer acquisitions. This trend of slower, but continuing, market growth is what we expect to see throughout 2005.

"Recent CML research to gauge buy-to-let landlords' intentions suggests that most expect to maintain or increase their holdings, and have a long-term interest in the market. We are confident that the buy-to-let sector will continue to grow and to form an attractive part of many investors' portfolios."