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142% surge in buy to let mortgages (mostly thanks to George Osborne)

Chancellor George Osborne’s stamp duty surcharge imposed on landlords and other second home buyers from April 1 prompted an enormous 142 per cent surge in mortgage lending to landlords.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders says landlords borrowed £7.1 billion in March - the latest available figures - which was up 87 per cent on the previous month (itself unusually high) and up no less than 142 per cent compared to March 2015.

“Activity was distorted in March due to a rush to beat changes to stamp duty, alongside the seasonal uptick in activity before Easter. While the increases are substantial, these supercharged levels of activity are likely to be temporary and will fall back over the summer months” warns Paul Smee, director general of the CML.

“We estimate that there will be an average of 10,000 fewer mortgage transactions in April, May and June, which would largely offset the increase in mortgaged transactions that came through in March” predicts CML economist Mohammad Jamei.

“Just as the dust begins to settle on this stamp duty change, we’re likely to see further distortion caused by June’s EU referendum, which is already weighing on sentiment and affecting commercial property transactions and the wider economy. It is likely to feed into the residential property market, too. It may be that we have a housing market of two halves in 2016 - but we'll just have to wait and see” he says.

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