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Buy to let hits four year peak as lenders pour in cash


By Simon Thompson
 
     
Buy to let borrowing has hit the highest level for four years as lenders pour billions in to private rented housing.

Landlord loans accounted for 11.5% of all mortgage lending last year, according to the latest figures from trade body the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

This was a 17% increase on the previous year.

Total lending added up to £16.4 billion, compared to £13.8 billion 12 months’ earlier – the highest since the peak of the housing boom in 2007.

In the final three months of last year, around 36,700 buy-to-let loans were advanced, worth a total of £4.6 million. This is up from 34,000 loans worth £4.2 billion in the previous quarter, and a rise also on the fourth quarter of 2011, when 34,200 loans were made to a total value of £3.9 billion.

During 2012, 136,900 buy-to-let loans were taken out, and nearly half were remortgages.

At the end of the year there were 1,445,300 buy-to-let loans in place, accounting for 13% of all mortgages.

Average deposits on buy-to-let mortgages were 25% and the average minimum rental cover was 125%.

Just 1.14% of buy-to-let loans were in arrears by more than three months by the end of the year, compared to 2.03% of owner-occupier mortgages. However, the annual repossession rate was 0.48% - higher than the equivalent level of 0.27% for owner-occupiers.

Paul Smee, director-general of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, said the buy-to-let market is benefiting from strong tenant demand, and this is likely to continue.

“Loan performance compares favourably with the owner-occupier sector, and the overall outlook for the buy-to-let sector is positive,” he said.

"Landlords who can demonstrate a strong track record are in a good position to expand their portfolios. However, new potential landlords need to tread carefully before entering the buy-to-let market; considerations such as landlord licensing reinforce the need for potential landlords to gain a strong understanding of the legal and operating environment.”

The CML says during 2013, landlords will find out if buy-to-let lending under the proposed European Directive for Mortgages that is being finalised, Smee explained.

If the EU does regulate buy-to-let, landlords will find borrowing for investment much harder under strict new rules.

 
 
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