The Bank of England said mortgage approvals for house purchases rose to 74,000 in January, above the 12-month pre-pandemic average up to February 2020 of 66,700. Britons borrowed £5.9bn in mortgage debt, up from £4bn in December and above the pre-pandemic average of £4.3bn.
The figures suggest the UK housing market remained buoyant at the start of the year, and experts said many people are trying to move house before interest rates go up further.
Simon Gammon, managing partner at Knight Frank Finance, said: “Purchasing activity in the mortgage market remained above seasonal norms during January, despite Omicron clouding the economic outlook stock levels wallowing close to all-time lows relative to demand.
“We expect the data to show another pick up in the coming months. Many potential purchasers opted to wait during the pandemic, whether due to low stock or the uncertain outlook. We’re now seeing large numbers seeking to move before rates rise further. The limiting factor on purchasing activity during the weeks ahead will be the shortage of properties to purchase.
“The Bank of England’s remortgaging data doesn’t capture deals when borrowers stick with their current lender, but we are seeing significant numbers of borrowers looking to remortgage ahead of another potential rate rise in March. There is little doubt that mortgage rates will continue to rise over the course of the year, what’s unclear is how fast. The outlook is much more uncertain amid the escalating conflict in Ukraine.”