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Mortgage lenders handed out 251,000 loans to home-movers, which is a drop of 26% compared to 2022

The number of mortgages given to people moving home has fallen sharply(PA Archive/PA Images)

The number of mortgages given to people moving house last year was the smallest since 1974, says UK Finance, the group that speaks for the banking and finance industry.

They gave out 251,000 loans to home-movers, which is a drop of 26% compared to 2022. The number of first-time buyers who got a mortgage last year also fell. There were 287,430 given to new buyers which is the lowest number since 2013 and a drop of 22.4% compared to 2022.

These numbers come out just as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is getting ready to give his Budget speech later this week. Fixed rate for mortgages have been going down in recent months, but some have increased recently because of uncertainty about what the Bank of England will do next.

In the last year the housing market has been hit by the cost of living going up as well as historically high mortgage rates. This led to a big drop in mortgage lending across all sectors, according to UK Finance.

By the end of 2023, about one in five first-time buyers were borrowing for more than 35 years. This is compared to fewer than one in 10 the year before. They were doing this to make their mortgages more affordable.

Personal savings levels saw a fall each month last year as households used their rainy-day funds to cover the increasing cost of living, according to UK Finance. However, households are managing unsecured debt well, with half of all credit card balances being interest-bearing, the lowest proportion since 1995.

Mortgage arrears increased last year, but they still account for less than 1% of the total number of outstanding mortgages. The number of homes being repossessed remains largely static.

Eric Leenders, managing director of personal finance at UK Finance, said: “2023 was a tough year for UK households and we expect to see continued challenges in 2024. Affordability remains a barrier to home ownership, but pressures should start to ease gradually through this year and next.”

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