UK: In recent months, British lenders have witnessed a significant surge in mortgage defaults, marking the largest increase since 2009, according to a recent survey conducted by the Bank of England. As a result, lenders anticipate a reduction in the availability of both home loans and unsecured borrowing, reflecting growing concerns over the stability of the housing market.
The survey, known as the Credit Conditions Survey, revealed that the gauge for reported mortgage defaults rose to 30.9 in the second quarter from 14.0 in the first quarter, marking the highest reading since mid-2009 when the same indicator exceeded 60. The Bank of England highlighted that losses and default rates on secured loans to households increased during the second quarter and are expected to rise further in the third quarter.
Furthermore, the survey indicated that lenders anticipate a sharp decline in demand for mortgages in the third quarter, aligning with the expectations of most economists who predict a cooling of activity in Britain’s housing market. This slowdown is primarily attributed to consecutive interest rate hikes implemented since late 2021, which are gradually impacting mortgage costs.
The impact of the mortgage crisis and persistently high inflation on personal finances is becoming increasingly evident. Looking ahead, the data from UK Finance indicates that approximately 2.4 million fixed-rate mortgages are due to expire between now and the end of 2024.
In addition to mortgage defaults, the survey revealed that default rates for non-mortgage lending are also projected to increase slightly by the end of August. Corporate lending default rates are expected to rise for small businesses, while remaining unchanged for medium and large businesses. Moreover, lenders anticipate a squeeze on households as they foresee a reduction in interest-free periods on credit cards for balance transfers, along with a decrease in interest-free periods on new credit cards for purchases.
While the results of the survey do not necessarily reflect the Bank of England’s official stance on credit conditions, they serve as a valuable indicator of the evolving landscape for lenders and borrowers alike. The tightening of home loan availability and the overall credit market reflects the need for caution and prudence in light of the mounting mortgage crisis and the persistently high inflation that continues to impact the UK economy.