An increase in remortgages offset an overall drop last year in the number of mortgages agreed in Scotland, new figures published by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) Scotland.

There was a 7 per cent fall in the number of Scottish mortgages agreed, with 44,500 being completed in 2011, the CML said, although there was an impressive 18 per cent leap in remortgaging, with 36,900 such loans being taken out. Across the whole of the UK, there was an overall 5 per cent drop in the number of mortgages arranged.

In the final three months of last year, there were a total of 11,700 mortgages taken out in Scotland, with a total value of nearly £1.4 billion – but this was still an 8 per cent drop in both value and volume compared to the preceding quarter. Last year, Scotland represented 9 per cent of the total market for house-buying in the UK, and 10 per cent of all remortgages.

The average Scottish first-time buyer spent some 11.1 per cent of their monthly income on mortgage interest payments, making their payments the cheapest in the UK. Despite this, however, the number of first-time buyers north of the border dropped by 4 per cent in the final quarter to 4,500.

CML Scotland chairman Jim Dunn commented: “Scotland, as well as the rest of the UK, continues to see a constrained mortgage market. However, it is encouraging to see positive signs, such as better affordability for first-time buyers and a decrease in average deposits for home movers, emerging.”

He went on to warn that “2012 will still be a challenging year but we hope to see the slight easing of constraints continuing throughout the year.”

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