The mortgage market is in neutral gear, lenders claim, after gross lending for the first quarter of 2017 fell 6% annually to £59.1bn.
Estimates from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show that mortgage lending slipped 4% on the final three months of the year but was up 19% on a monthly basis in March to £21.4bn.
Last year’s Stamp Duty rush, when £26.3bn was lent in March, has also slightly skewed the figures, putting lending 19% down annually.
Mohammad Jamei, senior economist for the CML, said: “Mortgage lending appears to be in neutral gear. Our gross estimate for March is £21.4bn and this is broadly in line with average monthly lending over the past year.
“Within this aggregate level, there has been a shift towards first-time buyer and remortgage customers, away from home movers and buy-to-let landlords.
“We expect this profile to continue over the short term, as low mortgage rates encourage existing borrowers to remortgage and government schemes help first-time buyers. We do not expect any marked effect from the General Election.”
Commenting on the findings, Mark Dyason, director of mortgage broker Edinburgh Mortgage Advice, provided yet more driving puns.
He said: “The market overall may be in neutral gear but first-time buyers are in top gear.
“We are seeing a huge amount of pent-up demand from first-time buyers hit the market.
“For so long landlords have held all the cards, but with the various tax changes applied to buy-to-let, first-time buyers are firmly in the driving seat and are putting the pedal to the floor.”