The Bank of England data has revealed that house purchase approvals fell to their weakest levels since January 2015 during December.
According to the report, remortgage approvals also fell, dropping to 46,475 following strength in October and November.
BoE data revealed that annual growth in secured lending was unchanged at 3.3% in December, with net lending remaining stable at £3.7 billion.
John Eastgate, Sales and Marketing Director of OneSavings Bank, commented: “The ongoing state of political and economic uncertainty continues to weigh heavily on consumer confidence, and anyone wavering on a decision to apply for a mortgage may well have been dissuaded from doing so by the base rate increase, so it is hardly surprising that approvals decreased. The removal of stamp duty for first time buyers is unlikely to make a material difference, and with low wage growth and higher inflation, it would be fair to expect a generally subdued tone to continue. Renting remains the only viable option for many, and it is important that the government should recognise the importance therefore of the private rented sector.”
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and former RICS residential chairman, had this to say: "Although approvals were relatively flat in December it is probably no more than we expected at this time of year following relatively strong lending in October and November.
What we have seen since on the ground is viewing numbers well up on this time last year but it remains to be seen whether this translates into sales in the next month or two. We are waiting for more commitment from buyers before deciding whether this is going to be a better-than-anticipated start to 2018."
Richard Pike, Phoebus Software sales and marketing director, added: “A decent end to 2017 was confirmed in December’s lending figures from the Bank of England this morning. Whether this has any bearing on the outlook for the market for 2018 is debatable though.
We are moving into what, traditionally, is a busy time for property sales so the coming months are likely to show an improvement on December. However, as the general trend was of a slowing market towards the end of the year, compared to 2016, the next couple of months could show more subdued results than the beginning of last year.”