Mortgage lending was £220.

3 billion last year, up 8% from £203.3 billion in 2014, new figures have revealed.According estimates from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, mortgage lending reached £19.9 billion in December, slightly down on the previous month’s figure of £20.

5 billion but 23% higher than December 2014 (£16.2 billion).CML economist Mohammad Jamei said that total lending for 2015 as a whole was slightly higher than anticipated.”The low inflation environment, along with real wage growth, an improving labour market and competitive mortgage deals have all helped to underpin demand,” Jamei said.

“Having said this, the upside potential looks limited over the near-term, as the supply of existing and new properties on the market remains weak, and affordability pressures weigh on activity. There is an added element of uncertainty as we wait to see the impact of tax changes on the buy-to-let sector.”In its monthly market analysis, the CML said that near-term prospects for buy-to-let remained uncertain due to the upcoming tax changes and questioned whether the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee should be granted new powers over the sector.”The HM Treasury consultation on macro-prudential powers for the Financial Policy Committee over the sector was largely in line with our expectations, although we continue to question whether there is sufficient evidence to justify intervention,” the report said.

“The uncertainty around buy-to-let is unlikely to dissipate soon, and we do not expect to have a clearer picture until early summer, once any impact of the stamp duty changes comes through in the data. The Bank’s credit conditions survey suggests demand for buy-to-let could be strong in the first quarter of 2016, as some transactions are brought forward to avoid the stamp duty hike before it comes into effect. Longer term, however, buy-to-let volumes are likely to fall over 2016 and 2017, returning to levels seen in 2014.”Richard Sexton, director of e.

surv chartered surveyors, said: “Supply issues have become more of a factor in some areas as we head towards the turn of the year, as both growing demand and house prices finally get the attention they deserve from the government, but limited choice of affordable homes is certainly proving a challenge to some buyers. Alongside this obstacle, higher stamp duty changes are finally making their mark upon the top end of the market.”Undoubtedly, 2016 looks set to bring challenges and opportunities for lenders, with the Mortgage Credit Directive and a potential interest rate change on their radar.”

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