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Mortgage lending up as UK house prices settle

Gross mortgage lending increased by 7% in July to hit its highest monthly figure in almost six years, but international and UK mortgage lenders said pressures on budgets could start to dampen housing market activity.

Figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) showed that a total of £19.1bn was advanced to borrowers during the month, 15% higher than the £16.7bn recorded in June 2013 and the highest figure since August 2008.

The pick-up in lending follows a slowdown in the wake of the mortgage market review in April, which brought in new rules on affordability tests for borrowers and forced lenders to “stress test” applicants to ensure that they could still meet repayments if interest rates rise. The new rules only affect those applying for main home loans and not buy to let purchases.

The CML said activity had “remained robust” despite the changes, but warned the market still faced “headwinds”.

Recent data from surveyors and the property website Rightmove suggested the market has started cooling in recent weeks, as more homes have been put up for sale and the supply-demand balance has shifted in favour of buyers.

That was backed up by the most recent UK Land Registry data which showed process had ground to a halt in June. Whilst many parts of the country actually experienced a slight decline in values, London, for so long the engine room of average price growth, ground to a halt, recording just a 0.1% rise for the month.

International mortgage brokers are expecting the market to tighten, as at least one major lender has stopped offering UK mortgages for expatriates in Singapore and Qatar, two important expat centres.

Meanwhile, the broker has reported a surge in interest in expatiates looking for euro mortgages to buy in France, as interest rates there continue to fall.

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