UK homeowners repay £1.4bn more mortgage debt in July than they borrow
Tapering of stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland fuels drop in housing market activity
UK homeowners made a rare net repayment of mortgage debt in July as the tapering of the stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland fuelled a drop in housing market activity after a record June.
The Bank of England said individuals collectively paid back £1.4bn more of mortgage debt than they borrowed, in the first net repayment since the housing market ground to a halt during the first wave of Covid-19 in April 2020.
Threadneedle Street said it was only the second net repayment in a decade, and followed record borrowing of £17.7bn in June in the final month of the full stamp duty holiday tax break in England and Northern Ireland.
Until 30 June, the first £500,000 spent on a property was tax-free, which meant a saving for a buyer of up to £15,000. On 1 July the tax break was scaled back, with the threshold at which the tax on property purchases begins falling to £250,000. This so-called “nil rate band” will return to its pre-pandemic level of £125,000 on 1 October.
The latest figures showed mortgage approvals for house purchases, an indicator of future borrowing, dropped further in July to 75,200, hitting the lowest level since July 2020 before Rishi Sunak first launched the stamp duty tax break. However, approvals remained above pre-pandemic levels, in a sign of continued elevated activity in the housing market despite the winding down of the tax benefit.
House sales across the UK have tumbled since June after a rush by consumers to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday. Figures from HMRC show a record surge in activity in June, when 213,370 UK homes changed hands, was followed by a slump in July as transactions collapsed by 62% to 82,110.
Property prices have also cooled after a boom during the pandemic, according to figures compiled by mortgage lenders including Halifax and Nationwide.
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