Consumers Face Testing Time Ahead

By: Steve_smith
Gross mortgage lending increased over the course of last month, new research shows.

In a study conducted by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), such loans accounted for 32.4 billion pounds during October - a rise of about six per cent from the previous month. This figure also reveals an increase from the 30.6 billion pounds noted in October 2006 and is twice the average rate of growth for the time of year. According to the CML, the rise was mainly due to the applications and approvals for loans which were filed before the mortgage market felt the impact of "wholesale funding problems".

As a result of this, the council reports that mortgage advances could be due to fall over the remainder of this year. The assertion follows research from the Bank of England which pointed out that mortgage approvals decreased between July and September.

Commenting on the figures, Michael Coogan, director general for the CML, claimed that despite of the increase in lending over October, consumers may find that cheap loans are harder to come across in the coming months. He said: "The next few months will be a testing time as ongoing pressures in financial markets feed through into the wider economy. Funding constraints will continue to restrict lending activity and make loans more expensive. The Bank of England's recent quarterly inflation report reinforced the likelihood of a reduction in rates early next year and that should provide some relief for borrowers sooner rather than later."

Meanwhile, David Stubbs, senior economist for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), suggested that although the housing sector continues to slow down, "buoyant economic conditions" mean that many people will remain encouraged to purchase a home. The Rics spokesperson also asserted that those consumers who have "solid earnings" will still be able to access a loan to help them get on housing ladder, despite the recent withdrawal of several mortgage products.

Mr Stubbs pointed out that lending figures are set to plummet over the coming months. In turn, he stated this could cause the Bank of England's monetary policy committee to lower the base rate of interest. Such news may be particularly welcomed by prospective borrowers as it could mean the interest attached to mortgages, secured loans, and other forms of credit will also dip, making it more affordable for people to meet demands for repayment on their borrowing.

However, for those who are concerned that their ability to manage finances will come under insurmountable pressure in the short-term, applying for a low-rate loan could be one way to relieve such anxieties. Earlier this month, a study conducted by the Alliance Trust Research Centre showed that spending by British households decreased during the third quarter of 2007, as consumers' finances continued to come under pressure due to rising mortgage costs, high council taxes and a slow in earnings growth. And with Christmas about five weeks away, those looking to reduce strains on their spending may wish to consider taking out a personal loan as a means of debt consolidation to help free up disposable income quickly.
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