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British mortgage approvals fell in September for the first time in four months

British mortgage approvals fell in September for the first time in four months, official figures have revealed.

According to new data from the Bank of England, the number of mortgages approved by lenders fell 1.1% from 70,664 in August to 68,874 in September. Year-on-year, approvals rose 21.6% in September from 100,290 to 121,983.

Despite the slight dip in mortgage approvals for the month, total lending in September to individuals rose £3.6 billion, the most since 2008.

The number of approvals for remortgaging was at 41,163 in September, up from 40,922 in August.

Brian Murphy, head of lending at the Mortgage Advice Bureau, said the rise in total mortgage lending indicated a strong level of confidence in the market among lenders as well as growing consumer demand.

Murphy said: “The rush to remortgage is on, as the average pricing for two and five-year fixed rate mortgages saw the first rise in over a year last month. Savvy homeowners who are watching the market closely are therefore likely to be making the most of the competitive pricing currently available before rates start to creep up. Today’s remortgagers will be in a strong position to access these deals, with many possessing improved housing equity as a result of healthy house price growth.”

Peter Williams, executive director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, said: “A stable month of mortgage lending ‒ concluding with approvals 3% above the six-month average ‒ is likely to pre-empt a push by lenders for more business towards the end of the year with intermediaries playing a vital role to support them in achieving their targets.”

However, Williams warned that further regulation could push the recovery off track.

Last week, Chancellor George Osborne said that the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee would be given further powers to regulate buy-to-let mortgages, but did not go into specific detail.

Williams said: “We’re finally getting glimpses of a market recovery bedding in following the introduction of new regulation. The year 2015 may be shaping up as something of a mirror image of 2014, where instead of a fast beginning and a slow end, we’re seeing a slow beginning and a bounce-back in the second half of the year. So, we can only advise the government to remain cautious and not let the possibility of more regulation curb a recovering market.”