mortgage housesThe Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has released data that reveals mortgage lending reached its highest level for seven years in 2015. The total amount borrowed last year was £220.3 billion.

An increase of 8% year-on-year

This figure represents a healthy increase compared with the figure for 2014. The total is 8% higher than the amount borrowed for the whole of 2014.

2015 was also the biggest year for lending since 2008, when the UK property market was crashing. At that point, the amount loaned in mortgages in the UK was £27.5 billion higher than it was last year.

Still significantly lower than the figure seen at the market peak in 2007

The data from the CML also revealed the current marketplace has a long way to go before reaching the levels seen just prior to the property market crash. Back in 2007, the total loaned in mortgages across the UK was £356 billion. The figure attained in 2014, seven years later, may have been high, but it was still £135.7 billion below that peak level.

Yet figures dropped in December

While the overall year-on-year figures are encouraging, we can drill down into them to gain more information on whether the year finished in reasonable shape. December’s total amounted to £19.9 billion, which was around 3% down on November’s total lending. It was, however, much healthier than we had seen 12 months earlier. At that stage, mortgage lending was 23% lower.

Encouraging signs… but only for early 2016

All of this makes one wonder what 2016 will bring. Many people suspect there will be healthy mortgage lending activity for the first three months or so of the year. This will take us to the time when the increases in stamp duty will kick into action, making the cost of buy-to-let properties rather more expensive than they are at present.

Indeed, some experts are predicting a drop-off in mortgage lending after this point. With that said, though, it is unlikely there will be a pronounced drop in mortgage lending throughout the remainder of 2016.

Interest rates to stay low

According to Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, interest rates are set to remain at historic lows throughout the rest of 2016. While we may see modest rises, they will be on the small side. This should give many first-time buyers confidence to finally jump into the property market.

The effect the new stamp duty rules will have on things remains to be seen. If some landlords do leave the market it will free up more properties to be sold, and this could mean a price drop in some areas. This could have an effect on mortgage lending in terms of the total amount loaned.

It will certainly be interesting to see the figures for January when they are released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders. We have some time to wait for that information, but it could well be higher than was the case for December.

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