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More mortgages agreed in early 2021

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Mortgage commitments agreed by lenders were a quarter more at the end of 2020 than at the end of 2019, the private investor platform Hargreaves Lansdown has highlighted.

Advances actually paid in the fourth quarter of 2020) were also up on the same quarter a year earlier, but this time by only 4.2 per cent. In the year as a whole they were unsurprisingly down by 9.8 per cent.

The value of balances in arrears rose by 3.4 per cent in the last quarter and is now just under 1 per cent of all mortgage balances.

‘The race for space has turned out to be more of a marathon than a sprint’, said Hargreaves Lansdown personal finance analyst Sarah Coles.

‘We’ve been snapping up mortgages at the fastest rate since the onset of the financial crisis – and that was even before we knew the stamp duty holiday would be extended.

‘The mortgage market was booming at the end of last year, and the mortgages being agreed for the start of 2021 were at their highest for 14 years’.

Meanwhile, arrears are starting to grow, said Coles. But ‘let’s not get ahead of ourselves, arrears are still incredibly low: right now they’re at 0.93 per cent compared to 3.64 per cent in early 2009. However, during the pandemic millions of borrowers have been able to rely on payment holidays, so have been able to avoid paying without running up arrears. Now that support is winding down, anyone who’s still struggling is running out of road. When the FCA asked people in October, 19.6m expected to be struggling to pay the bills or service their debts by April. By the time we get the March figures, arrears could look much worse’.

  • Those looking to capitalise on the stamp duty holiday extension will welcome the news that there is now the highest number of mortgage deals on the market since March 2020, but should be aware that average two and five year fixed rates have continued to rise, according to Moneyfacts. Its latest UK Mortgage Trends Treasury Report shows there are now just over 3,500 mortgage deals available; the highest number since March 2020. The average two year fixed rate now stands at 2.57 per cent, 0.14 per cent higher than a year ago.