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Bridging loan activity stays strong amid property sales fall

According to Land Registry statistics, property sales in the UK fell by 3.9% between November and December 2017. In December, there were 99,100 residential and 10,390 nonresidential property sales.

The small dip in property sales are not regarded by property experts as significant and there is optimism about 2018. The abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers purchasing houses for £300,000 or less could stimulate residential property sales. Mortgage rates, though they have had a slight rise due to the increase in the Bank of England’s base rate, remain low.

Many property owners have been put off by the high cost of moving. Instead of purchasing a larger house, there has been a tendency to stay in an existing house but improve it by adding an extension or converting the loft space to a living area.

Property prices rose slightly at the end of 2017, which means that some people are remaining in rented property longer than expected in order to save for a deposit for their first home.

At the end of 2017, there was an increase in bridging loan activity and gross annual bridging lending totalled £4.7bn which is the highest lending total since the Brexit vote. Bridging is a flexible form of borrowing with many uses. Though many bridging loans are used to complete house purchases quickly, they are increasingly being used for refurbishing property and to finance extensions that add space to a house.