Property cash purchases at new high

New research from IMLA has found that a record amount of cash was injected into residential property purchases in 2016.

According to IMLA, the total value of residential house purchases in the UK reached £261bn in 2016, with £152bn provided by mortgage finance and £109bn made up of cash funds including the proceeds of existing property sales.

Cash funds have risen by 12% from 2015 and 57% since 2013, far outpacing the growth of mortgage lending over the same periods. Growth of £6.8bn in house purchase mortgage lending from 2015 to 2016 was overshadowed by the extra £11.8bn in cash contributions. As a result, cash provided 41.8% of funds for residential house purchases.

Three-quarters of the annual growth in house purchase lending came from first-time buyers in 2016. However, the growing influence of cash in the house purchase market has potentially negative implications for aspiring homeowners and home-movers.

Analysis from the CML suggests that outright cash transactions (with no mortgage finance involved) continue to make up just over a third of all transactions.

Peter Williams, Executive Director of IMLA, commented: “The shift towards cash is partly a consequence of trying to manage housing demand by restricting mortgage supply, with Financial Policy Committee actions in 2014 quickly layered on top of the Mortgage Market Review affordability rules. With the market having cooled and interest rate expectations shifted since then, there is a legitimate case for asking whether current restrictions on lending are still appropriate or have become over-zealous.

In the meantime, rising house prices and stagnant incomes mean that access to wealth as well as mortgage finance will increasingly separate the ‘haves’ from the ‘have nots’ in the property market if the importance of cash continues to grow. The recent Housing White Paper was a missed opportunity to take strong action on housing supply, and we must hope that the upcoming election manifestos will be used as an opportunity to put that right.”

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