The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) estimates that gross mortgage lending reached £20.1 billion in May. This is a 12% increase on both April last month and on May last year, of which £17.9 billion was advanced. The CML’s buy-to-let forecast for 2017 and 2018 has been revised down from previous expectations at the end of last year, reflecting tax and prudential burdens in the housing and mortgage markets.

The CML now expects buy-to-let lending of £35 billion in 2017 and £33 billion in 2018, a decrease from £38 billion in each year, forecast in December last year. Commenting on market conditions, CML director general Paul Smee highlighted the fact that remortgage activity and first-time buyers continue to drive lending this year and that he expects to see this trend continue, but not as strongly as in the past as the factors supporting lending are blunted by less favourable economic conditions.

Buy-to-let had a weak start to 2017, and the sector’s contribution to overall net mortgage lending has fallen considerably over the last year. While falling mortgage interest rates have helped support borrowing, tax and prudential measures are exerting pressure on the buy-to-let market. Following the distortion of the stamp duty change on second properties last year, the CML expected a slight recovery in lending levels. However, this has not materialised, and they have therefore lowered their forecast for buy-to-let lending this year and next. The trade body has called for the need to avoid further changes to the tax and regulatory framework until the effect of those changes already in train have been properly assessed


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