Opinion Former Article

BSA: Lending and Approvals Jump in March

Gross mortgage lending by building societies and other mutual lenders rose 58% in March 2012 compared to the same month last year, and by 40% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011. Net lending by mutuals was positive for the sixth consecutive month.

Mortgage approvals by mutuals were up 39% in March compared to March last year, and they were up 40% in the first quarter of the year compared to the first quarter of 2011.

Retail savings balances at mutuals fell by £266 million in March, compared to an increase of £273 million in the same month last year. After interest credited is removed there was a net withdrawal of £945 million in March.

Commenting, Adrian Coles, Director-General of the Building Societies Association, said:

"Gross lending and approvals by mutuals were particularly strong not only in March, but the whole of the first quarter, which was well up on the same period in 2011. The additional lending in March can, in part, be attributed to the increased number of first time buyers who took action to get the benefit of the stamp duty concession before it ended on 24 March.

"In all around 6,500 mortgage loans were made to first time buyers by building societies and other mutuals in March, up from 3,100 in March last year. Of these about two thirds are estimated to have benefited from the stamp duty exemption. Some purchase decisions are likely to have been brought forward as a result of the deadline so lending to first time buyers may dip slightly in coming months.

"More broadly, mortgage lending to those moving home or remortgaging was also up strongly. This reflects the attractive mortgages on offer from mutuals with them accounting for more than three-quarters of mortgage best-buys in the quarter*. Approval figures demonstrate that there is a strong mortgage pipeline, which suggests that mutuals' mortgage lending will hold up well into the summer.

"Attracting retail savings remains challenging when the Bank Rate remains at such a low level, wage growth stays below the growth in prices and real disposable household income is in falling. In fact, many households are now relying on their savings to supplement their incomes and are not in a position to increase their nest eggs. A fall in savings balances in March was therefore unsurprising."

~ Ends ~

Hilary McVitty
Tel: 020 7520 5926
Email: hilary.mcvitty@bsa.org.uk

Notes for Editors:

*Data sourced from Moneyfacts

Mutual statistics March 2012 - data is not seasonally adjusted.

Additional data tables are attached.

1. The Building Societies Association (BSA) represents mutual lenders and deposit takers in the UK including all 47 UK building societies. Mutual lenders and deposit takers have more than 25 million customers, total assets of over £375 billion and, together with their subsidiaries, hold residential mortgages of nearly £240 billion, 19% of the total outstanding in the UK. They hold more than £250 billion of retail deposits, accounting for 22% of all such deposits in the UK. Mutual deposit takers account for 34% of cash ISA balances. They employ approximately 50,000 full and part-time staff and operate through approximately 2,000 branches.

2. Data in this release relates to 47 building societies and five other mutual deposit taking and lending institutions in the UK.

3. Photographs of Adrian Coles are available from the BSA press office, or from the Association's website at www.bsa.org.uk or Headlinemoney www.headlinemoney.co.uk

Katie Wise
Policy and External Affairs Officer
Building Societies Association
6th Floor, York House
23 Kingsway

Tel: 020 7520 5904
Email: katie.wise@bsa.org.uk
Web: www.bsa.org.uk
Twitter: @BSABuildingSocs

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