"Remortgaging activity bounced back to strong levels in April, as both homeowners and landlords put their house in order by locking into attractive fixed-rate deal"
There was strong growth in remortgaging in April 2018, with new homeowner mortgages up 36% and buy-to-let remortgages up 32.4% compared to the same month a year earlier, according to the latest UK Finance data.
UK Finance has attributed the spike in remortgaging to the large number of customers reaching the end of their mortgage deal rates and speculation that the Bank of England may raise interest rates.
Other data shows that there were 26,700 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in the month, up 3.5% by volume compared to April 2017.
Homemover remortgages dropped by 4.2% and buy-to-let purchases fell by 5.7%.
Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said: "Remortgaging activity bounced back to strong levels in April, as both homeowners and landlords put their house in order by locking into attractive fixed-rate deals ahead of an anticipated interest rate rise.
“This spike in remortgaging was also driven by a large number of short-term mortgage deal rates coming to an end, combined with increased efforts by lenders to contact their customers before their deal rate expires.
"The number of first-time buyers has grown year on year, outstripping the number of homemovers. This may reflect the impact of measures such as the recent stamp duty cut and the Help to Buy scheme that are focused on getting more people onto the housing ladder."
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, commented: "Remortgaging is where it’s at with owner-occupiers and landlords taking advantage of competitively-priced mortgage deals. With the challenger banks eager to carve out market share, and the big lenders realising they need to offer attractive deals in order to compete, it is good news for borrowers.
"The threat of an interest rate rise may have provided the impetus for many to remortgage but it is looking increasingly unlikely that there will be a rate rise anytime soon. With wage growth slowing in the three months to April, despite the fall in unemployment, the chance of a near-term increase in interest rates has been reduced.
"The remortgage spike was also caused by a large number of two-year fixes coming to an end. We are finding that a lot of borrowers are locking into five-year money in order to protect from future rate rises and take advantage of cheap five-year deals. This is also true of landlords, as five-year deals enable lenders to do the rental assessment using this rate, which makes a huge difference. If standard assessments are used on property bought in London and the south, it often means it is only possible to borrow sub 50 per cent loan-to-value."